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ing-house keepers, hackmen, runners, and others who try to defraud them on their arrival in this country. Already something in this direction is done. The work should be extended as far as is practicable. Too much emphasis can hardly be laid upon receiving the immigrant in a spirit of sympathy and helpfulness which will tend to strengthen his sense of civic and social obligation.
In the chapter on Oriental Immigration the discussion was perhaps made complete enough so that no further argument is necessary to justify the Government in continuing our present policy of the restriction of oriental immigration, tho the form of selection may well be modified, so as not to wound the national susceptibilities of any people. The recommendation of Mr. Straus, when Secretary of Commerce and Labor, that all be admitted "except laborers" is worthy of consideration.
Much more effort should be made by thoughtful individuals, as well as by the Government, to understand the true nature of the racial problem in immigration and to set it forth in its true light. When the problem is properly understood, it will be seen that a restriction of immigration on racial grounds is no cause for hostile or even for aggrieved feeling on the part of the races excluded. Such a policy of exclusion carries an implication of inferiority no more than one of superiority. It merely recognizes a difference in races and a lack of readiness to assimilate. There is no real and complete amalgamation of races without intermarriage. Races that do not readily intermarry seldom dwell together in amity, unless one of them
readily assumes the position of a subject or a servile caste. Such a caste is not desirable in a free country. A race, like the Japanese, that will not be servile and yet will not mix by intermarriage is sure to create difficulty in social life. This ought not to be the case, perhaps, but with human nature as it is, the experience of the world seems to justify the statement. Witness for one example the experiences of the Jews in nearly all countries from the days of the Middle Ages down. And no one who knows the Jews considers them inferior to any other race, either physically or mentally, morally or religiously. In such countries as Russia and Austria it is frankly said that the hostility to the Jews is felt because of their mental superiority, which enables them to exploit the weaker natives. Similar control of the Chinese by the Dutch in Java is for the same reason to protect the weak and less able Malay native from exploitation by the abler Chinese.
This country wants no other race problem. The negro problem is enough. Many fear that a Jewish problem threatens for a different reason. They wish to take no risks of a Chinese or Japanese or Hindu racial problem. The feeling is rather one of fear and prudence than of hostility or contempt.
CONTRACT LABOR LAW
Of greater importance, however, than any of these questions is that of protecting our industrial conditions. It seems probable that in some cases our government has emphasized too strongly our contract labor law, so that individuals whose service in special lines of employment would be distinctly beneficial to the country, have been excluded. Moreover, if it were not for the danger of importing men specifically as
strike-breakers, or under such conditions that they would tend to retard the improvement of the conditions of our skilled workers and the steady elevation of the standards of living among such classes, it would seem desirable that the immigrants coming to this country should arrive with some previous knowledge of the occupations which they are to enter; and their coming under contract, instead of being a detriment, would be a benefit to all parties concerned. Beyond doubt, there are very many evasions at the present time of the spirit of our contract labor law. If it were possible so to amend the law as to prevent our immigrants from being used as a means of oppressing American wage-earners, a decided modification of this law would be advisable.
It is certainly desirable that some change be made so that the Secretary of Labor might determine in advance the exceptions to the law as it now stands; and it seems proper that some extension in the admitted classes be made, while maintaining strictly the principle of preventing importation which could prove detrimental to wage-earners. The plan proposed in the Dillingham bill would probably prove satisfactory and would not lead to abuse.
In discussing the question of the further general restriction of immigration, emphasis should be placed upon the principles laid down by the Immigration Commission concerning the demand for labor. The point should be again recalled that a demand for labor is no sign that the welfare of the country would be promoted by additional laborers. As the Commission has well said, the measure of the wise development of
a country is to a very great extent dependent upon the economic opportunity afforded to the wage-earning citizen for his material, mental and moral development, and this opportunity is dependent to a great extent upon a progressive improvement in his standard of living. It is undoubtedly true that an increase in wages so great that our home industries could not meet the competition of foreign countries might easily result in the injury of the wage-earners. Such a redistribution of wealth, therefore, as would probably be brought about from a restriction of immigration can be brought about only within the limits made possible on account of foreign competition, or by concerted action on the part of all competing countries.
Within these limits, however, the principle may be laid down that the most desirable progress of a country is very closely bound up with the progress of its wage-earning classes, and that any influence which tends toward the lowering of their standard of living must be detrimental.
The preceding chapters indicate, beyond possibility of contradiction, that tendencies toward lowering the American standard of living are at work at the present time in this country through our large immigration, and that, therefore, it is desirable that by some wisely effective method we restrict such immigration.
ASSIMILATION AND DISTRIBUTION
This in no way contradicts the belief on the part of many that every effort should be made to promote assimilation of the immigrants and the distribution of immigrants from our overcrowded industrial centers to the rural districts. Both classes of activities
are necessary, if we are to promote our best interests. When we have finally thoroughly organized our assimilative and distributive relief measures, it is possible that no further restrictive measures will be needed; but for the time being, at any rate, there is no doubt as to their necessity.
Regarding specific measures of restriction little need be said. A majority of the Immigration Commission favored the reading and writing test as the "most feasible single method" of restricting undesirable immigration. In three instances this bill passed both houses, altho vetoed by Presidents Cleveland, Taft, and Wilson. It has now finally been passed by Congress over the veto of President Wilson and is part of our Immigration law. The literacy test on the whole seems more generally acceptable than any other test. Very thorough consideration of the whole subject would indicate that altho this law may in many individual instances work considerable hardship it will not be more likely to work hardship than any other restrictive measure. Any general legislation is certain in individual cases to result in hardship. It is thought also that this test will be felt mainly by those immigrants who come to America without wives or families and with the intention of remaining here only a short time. This, in fact, was the chief reason for adopting this test. Now that the law is actually in force, actual information on the workings of the law should be forthcoming within a very short time. A thorough discussion of the facts of this law is to be found in the chapter entitled "The Immigration Law of 1917.”