Lapas attēli
PDF
ePub

Besides these our law does not exclude those who are regarded at home as dangerous or suspicious persons or probable criminals. There are two fundamental defects in the law relative to the immigration of criminal aliens. In the first place no adequate provision is made for securing a knowledge of the criminal record of aliens in other countries, and the inspection at United States ports that is largely depended upon for the detection of arriving aliens of the criminal class is in the nature of the case entirely inadequate to control the movement. As previously explained, in the case of Italy, advantage is not taken of the only instance in which arriving immigrants bring with them any written evidence as to their moral character at home.

The other serious, and in the opinion of the Commission inexcusable, defect is the fact that aliens admitted to this country, unless it appears that such admission was in violation of law, may pursue a criminal career without danger of deportation. To deport an alien of any class is entirely within the rights of any Government, and provision should be made for ridding the United States of aliens who, within a relatively short time after arrival, become criminals. It seems entirely reasonable and just that this country should not harbor dangerous criminals of another country, especially when their residence in the United States has been so brief that their tendency to crime can not be attributed to conditions arising subsequent to their entry into this country. Under the Canadian immigration law aliens who become a charge upon the public, by reason of crime or any other cause, within three years after their arrival may be, and in considerable numbers are, deported to the countries whence they came. Under the British aliens act the right to deport criminals is exercised, and the Commission emphatically believes that the same principle should be applied in the United States. It is not believed that the practice of deportation should be sufficiently extended to include minor offenses, nor that the period of time within which deportation could be made should be longer than the period required for naturalization.

IMMIGRATION AND THE PUBLIC HEALTH.

The effective administration of the present immigration law insures the admission to the United States of physically healthy immigrants, so that there is no adequate cause for concern in this regard. While it is true that a large part of the present-day immigration is drawn from countries where certain dangerous and loathsome contagious diseases are prevalent among the immigrating classes, the medical inspection conducted by the steamship companies at foreign ports of embarkation and elsewhere in Europe prevents the coming to this country of great numbers of diseased aliens, and the inspection here by officers of the United States Public Health and Marine-Hospital Service effectively supplements the examination abroad.

It is doubtless true that some cases of contagious or infectious disease are introduced, and to a limited extent spread, in this country because of immigration, but there is no cause for serious alarm in this regard. From investigations of the Commission in industrial localities and from other investigations that have been made it seems. probable that a considerable number of persons afflicted with vene

real diseases are admitted to this country and that such diseases have been spread in many communities as a result of immigration. It is difficult always to detect the existence of such diseases by means of a medical inspection as it is now conducted at United States ports, and it would seem impracticable to make the medical examination more thorough in this regard than it is at the present time.

The Commission included within the scope of the investigation the study of cases admitted to Bellevue and Allied Hospitals in New York City. These hospitals are public charitable institutions, and a sufficient number of persons are treated there to warrant some conclusions relative to the existence of disease among the poorer classes of the foreign-born. While it appears that a considerable number of immigrants are treated at these hospitals for various causes within a comparatively short time after their admission to the United States, it does not appear that the number is sufficiently large or the diseases for which they are treated are sufficiently serious to warrant the conclusion that diseased persons are being admitted in any considerable numbers. A study of these cases, however, permits an interesting and significant comparison between immigrants of the old and the new class with regard to alcoholism. Of the 23,758 cases treated at Bellevue and Allied Hospitals during the period covered by the Commission's inquiry, 25.5 per cent of the native-born and 18.2 per cent of the foreign-born persons involved were treated for alcoholism. Among the foreign-born this treatment was confined almost entirely to the races of old immigration, such as the Irish, Scotch, English, and Germans, while relatively very few southern and eastern Europeans were treated for that cause. A striking difference between the old and new immigration in this regard was also apparent to a greater or less degree in many industrial communities included in the Commission's general investigation. Some complaint was made that drunkenness interfered with the industrial efficiency of some southern and eastern Europeans, but these cases were comparatively rare.

IMMIGRATION AND PAUPERISM.

In the earlier days of unregulated immigration pauperism among newly admitted immigrants was one of the most serious phases of the problem. In New York, Massachusetts, and other States which received immigrants in large numbers the care of those who either were paupers on arrival or became paupers soon afterwards so taxed the public resources that various attempts were made to levy a duty on arriving immigrants for the purpose of supporting the large number of those who became charges upon the public. It is recorded that in some cases a considerable part of the immigrants arriving on a ship would be so destitute of means of support that it was necessary to transport them immediately to almshouses, and the earlier poorhouse records show that there were constantly being cared for large numbers of newly arrived foreign-born. At the present time, however, pauperism among newly admitted immigrants is relatively at a minimum, owing to the fact that the present immigration law provides for the admission only of the able-bodied, or dependents whose support by relatives is assured.

• See Vol. II, pp. 253-290.

The number of those admitted who receive assistance from organized charity in cities is relatively small. In the Commission's investigation, which covered the activities of the associated charities in 43 cities, including practically all the larger immigrant centers except New York, it was found that a small percentage of the cases represented immigrants who had been in the United States three years or under, while nearly half of all the foreign-born cases were those who had been in the United States twenty years or more. This investigation was conducted during the winter of 1908-9 before industrial activities had been fully resumed following the financial depression of 1907-8, and this inquiry showed that the recent immigrants, even in cities in times of relative industrial inactivity, did not seek charitable assistance in any considerable numbers. Undoubtedly conditions would have been otherwise had it not been for the large outward movement of recent immigrants following the depression, but however that may be, it is certain that those who remained were for the most part self-supporting.

CONGESTION OF IMMIGRANTS IN CITIES.

Of late years the general impression that owing to immigration the poorer districts of the large cities are greatly overcrowded and that in consequence the living conditions are insanitary and even degrading, has been so prevalent that it seemed desirable to make a very thorough investigation of this question. In consequence, in seven cities-New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, Cleveland, Buffalo, Milwaukee a very careful study was made of the conditions prevailing in the poorer quarters of the city inhabited by immigrants of various races. As was to be expected, many extremely pitiful cases of poverty and overcrowding were found, at times six or even more people sleeping in one small room, sometimes without light or direct access by window or door to the open air. On the whole, however, the average conditions were found materially better than had been anticipated. Moreover, a comparison of the conditions in a great city like New York or Chicago with those in some of the smaller industrial centers, such as mining or manufacturing towns, shows that average conditions as respects overcrowding are very materially worse in some of the small industrial towns than in the large cities. For example, the per cent of households having six or more persons per sleeping room of the race which showed the worst conditions in these large cities was only 5.2, whereas in the industrial centers studied in several cases the proportion was higher than this and in the case of one race as high as 9.5 per cent."

Moreover, in the large cities the population changes much more fre- ❤ quently than is generally thought. New immigrants are attracted to these poorer residential quarters by the presence of friends or relatives and the necessity of securing living quarters at the lowest possible cost, but as their economic status improves after living in this country for some time, they very generally move to better surroundings. The undesirable districts of the cities that are now inhabited largely by recent immigrants were formerly populated by persons of the earlier immigrant races. Few of these are now found

a See Vol. II, pp. 87-157.

See pp. 435 and 746,

there, and these remnants ordinarily represent the economic failures the derelicts-among a generation of immigrants which, for the most part, has moved to better surroundings.

In many instances, too, where deplorable conditions were found they were due in part, at any rate, to circumstances over which the inhabitants have little direct control, such as a poor water supply or insanitary drainage-matters that should be attended to by the city. authorities.

While instances of extreme uncleanliness were found, the care of the households as regards cleanliness and an attempt to live under proper conditions was usually found unexpectedly good, about fivesixths of all the families visited in the poorer quarters of these large cities keeping their homes in reasonably good or fair condition.

There seems to be little doubt that the various races, owing presumably to their differing environments in Europe, differ somewhat as regards overcrowding and the care of their apartments, but the differences are less than might have been anticipated. The reports seem to indicate clearly that the chief cause of the overcrowding is a desire of the families to keep well within their income or to save money, even at the expense of serious discomfort for the presentin order that they may better their condition in the future. The worst conditions were found among those who live in boarding groups, largely unmarried men, whose purpose in the main is to save money in order that they may send it back to their home country or return thither themselves as soon as a sufficient amount has been secured.

Although, as has been intimated, the average conditions are distinctly better than had been anticipated, the bad conditions still prevail to such an extent that the city authorities, as well as landlords and philanthropic people, have rich opportunities of improving them. It should not be forgotten that the bad conditions can not be estimated by the number of people that live on a square acre, but rather by the number of people per room and per sleeping room, by the amount of air space, the opportunities for light and ventilation, and the care that is taken of the rooms. Conditions in New York, where the largest number of people live per acre, were found, generally speaking, distinctly better than in some of the other cities where less care had been taken to pass or enforce proper laws and ordinances.

IMMIGRANTS IN MANUFACTURING AND MINING.

A large proportion of the southern and eastern European immigrants of the past twenty-five years have entered the manufacturing and mining industries of the eastern and middle western States, mostly in the capacity of unskilled laborers. There is no basic industry in which they are not largely represented and in many cases they compose more than 50 per cent of the total number of persons. employed in such industries. Coincident with the advent of these millions of unskilled laborers there has been an unprecedented expansion of the industries in which they have been employed. Whether this great immigration movement was caused by the industrial development or whether the fact that a practically unlimited and available supply of cheap labor existed in Europe was taken advantage of for the purpose of expanding the industries, can not well be demonstrated. Whatever may be the truth in this regard it is certain that southern and eastern European immigrants have

almost completely monopolized unskilled labor activities in many of the more important industries. This phase of the industrial situation was made the most important and exhaustive feature of the Commission's investigation, and the results show that while the competition of these immigrants has had little, if any, effect on the highly skilled trades, nevertheless, through lack of industrial progress and by reason of large and constant reinforcement from abroad, it has kept conditions in the semiskilled and unskilled occupations from advancing.

Several elements peculiar to the new immigrants contributed to this result. The aliens came from countries where low economic conditions prevailed and where conditions of labor were bad. They were content to accept wages and conditions which the native American and immigrants of the older class had come to regard as unsatisfactory. They were not, as a rule, engaged at lower wages than had been paid to the older workmen for the same class of labor, but their presence in constantly increasing numbers prevented progress among the older wage-earning class, and as a result that class of employees was gradually displaced. An instance of this displacement is shown in the experience in the bituminous coal mines of western Pennsylvania. This section of the bituminous field was the one first entered by the new immigrants, and the displacement of the old workers was soon under way. Some of them entered other occupations and many of them migrated to the coal fields of the Middle West. Later these fields also were invaded by the new immigrants, and large numbers of the old workers again migrated to the mines of the Southwest, where they still predominate. The effect of the new immigration is clearly shown in the western Pennsylvania fields, where the average wage of the bituminous coal worker is 42 cents a day below the average wage in the Middle West and Southwest. Incidentally, hours of labor are longer and general working conditions poorer in the Pennsylvania mines than elsewhere. Another characteristic of the new immigrants contributed to the situation in Pennsylvania. This was the impossibility of successfully organizing them into labor unions. Several attempts at organization were made, but the constant influx of immigrants to whom prevailing conditions seemed unusually favor able contributed to the failure to organize. A similar situation has prevailed in other great industries.

Like most of the immigration from southern and eastern Europe, those who entered the leading industries were largely single men or married men unaccompanied by their families. There is, of course, in practically all industrial communities a large number of families of the various races, but the majority of the employees are men without families here and whose standard of living is so far below that of the native American or older immigrant workman that it is impossible for the latter to successfully compete with them. They usually live in cooperative groups and crowd together. Consequently, they are able to save a great part of their earnings, much of which is sent or carried abroad. Moreover, there is a strong tendency on the part of these unaccompanied men to return to their native countries after a few years of labor here. These groups have little contact with American life, learn little of American institutions, and aside from

a See p. 534.

« iepriekšējāTurpināt »