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aliens are detained for observation as to their mental condition, a plan which is impracticable.
CONTRACT LABOR AND INDUCED AND ASSISTED IMMIGRATION.
Since 1884 aliens brought to the United States in pursuance of contracts to perform labor in this country have, with certain exceptions, been debarred by law. This provision does not apply to, skilled laborers where labor of a like kind unemployed can not be found in this country. The law has been made more rigid from time to time until under its terms almost any semblance of a contract or agreement is now sufficient to include immigrants within the contractlabor clause. Owing to the rigidity of the law and the fact that special provision is made for its enforcement there are probably at the present time relatively few actual contract laborers admitted. There are annually admitted, however, a very large number who come in response to indirect assurance that employment awaits them. In the main these assurances are contained in letters from persons already in this country who advise their relatives or friends at home that if they will come to the United States they will find work awaiting them. On the other hand, it is clear that there is a large induced immigration due to labor agents in this country who, independently or in cooperation with agents in Europe, operate practically without restriction. As a rule only unskilled laborers are induced to come to the United States by this means.
It is impossible to estimate what part of the present immigration movement to the United States is assisted to come either by friends in this country or by persons here and abroad who advance transportation contingent on the immigrants repaying the same from wages received after admission to the United States.
In earlier times a good many immigrants were enabled to come to this country through public assistance, and, in fact, it is recorded that many paupers and even criminals who had become a burden upon the public in Great Britain and some of the German States were practically deported to this country. So far as the Commission is able to learn, however, no part of the present immigration movement direct to the United States is thus publicly assisted.
THE PADRONE SYSTEM.
In the case of the earlier immigration of several southern and eastern European races to the United States the control of some individuals in this country by padrones has occurred. Under this system persons have taken advantage of their better knowledge of our language and conditions to control the labor of the new immigrants of the same race. The system was somewhat prevalent in the case of the earlier Italian immigrants and in such case the padrones controlled the labor of their fellow-countrymen in construction and other work. Later a good many Syrian peddlers were controlled by padrones who furnished them with stocks in trade and profited unduly by their labor. With the development of immigration of any such race, however, and the establishment of such races as factors in the population of the country, the padrone system has substantially disappeared. At the present time practically the only aliens under the control of padrones in any considerable numbers are the Greek boys employed in shoe-shining establishments or in peddling
flowers, fruit, or vegetables in the larger cities. This evil became so prevalent that when the immigration law of 1907 was enacted the following were included in the debarred classes:
All children under 16 years of age unaccompanied by one or both of their parents at the discretion of the Secretary of Commerce and Labor, or under such regulations as he may from time to time prescribe.
Under this provision the importation of boys by padrones has been curtailed and the Bureau of Immigration makes persistent and continual efforts to stamp out the evil. While this condition in the case of the Greeks may continue for some time, it seems altogether probable that as persons of that race progress in the United States the influence of the padrones will largely disappear, as has been the case with other European races.
IMPORTATION OF ALIENS FOR IMMORAL PURPOSES.
The Commission's investigation of the importation of women for immoral purposes, commonly known as the "white slave traffic, disclosed the fact that this business is regularly carried on between some European countries and the United States. There is a considerable movement of prostitutes to this country, but the most serious phase of the situation is the traffic in women and girls through both male and female procurers who make a regular business of importing alien women for houses of prostitution, as well as for the large number of foreign-born pimps who control these women and live upon the proceeds of their prostitution. As a result of the work and upon the recommendation of the Immigration Commission, Congress has already passed a law that if vigorously enforced will do much to minimize the evil.
While the conditions under which immigrants are transported by sea are immeasurably better than in the days of sailing vessels or even in the early days of steam navigation, bad conditions are still found in the steerage of many transatlantic ships. Agents of the Commission traveled as immigrants in the steerage of 14 ships, representing practically all the more important transatlantic lines. These agents found that some of the lines had entirely abolished the proverbial steerage and substituted so-called third-class accommodations which were in every way comfortable and satisfactory, while on the ships of some lines the old-time steerage still prevailed. These bad conditions are at the present time entirely avoidable; and as the conditions under which immigrants are brought to the United States and the treatment they receive on shipboard are matters of concern to this country, not only from a humanitarian but from a practical standpoint, measures should be taken to insure the improvement of the immigrants' accommodations, where such improvement is needed.
IMMIGRANT HOMES AND AID SOCIETIES.
There have been established at a number of our important ports societies which, with the permission of the immigration authorities, send representatives to meet incoming aliens whose friends and relatives fail to call for them. In case these immigrants need advice or a
a See Vol. II, pp. 744-747.
place where they can remain in safety for a few days, these societies furnish such aid and permit them to come to the homes which have been established for that purpose. These societies and homes have usually been founded by and are under the direction of societies connected with some religious body. In a number of instances they receive subventions from foreign governments, inasmuch as they care for the immigrants of the countries concerned.
As the welfare of the immigrants, especially young women, might be materially affected by the care exercised by the representatives of these homes, it seemed wise to investigate their methods of work and the conditions of the homes. The results were surprising. While in a number of cases the societies were doing excellent work and the homes were giving due attention to the welfare of the young women placed in their charge, securing them positions and ascertaining that the positions were those suitable for the girls, in a number of instances it was found that the managers of the homes had apparently deceived the directors and supporters of the societies and were making of the homes mere money-making establishments for themselves. In a few cases, in order to promote their own financial advantage, the managers overcharged the immigrants, permitted the immigrant homes to remain in a filthy condition from lack of care, and even were ready to furnish to keepers of disreputable houses young girls as servants in such houses. The Commission called the attention of the immigration commissioner at Ellis Island and of the authorities at Washington to these abuses. In a number of cases vigorous action was taken, and representatives of seven societies were forbidden access to the immigrant station until a complete change in the management had been brought about. Under the vigorous action of the immigration authorities the worst abuses have been stopped and care is taken to prevent their recurrence. The homes in some places are now inspected to prevent a relapse into the former conditions. In New York escorts from Ellis Island to their destination in the city are furnished by the immigration authorities at nominal rates to those needing them. The immigration authorities need to maintain constant vigilance and make frequent inspections in order to prevent abuses. It is believed that the societies and homes can be adequately controlled by the immigration authorities without additional legislation.
"Immigrant banks" are important factors in the life of southern and eastern European immigrants during their earlier years in the United States. The term "bank" as applied in most cases is a misnomer, for the bankers are usually steamship ticket agents, small merchants, saloon keepers, or labor agents, who, because of superior intelligence and a better knowledge of conditions in this country, become the general advisers of newly arrived immigrants of the same race. A great amount of money is annually placed in the hands of these so-called bankers for safe-keeping or for transmission abroad. Except in three or four States they are entirely unregulated by law, and in the past, through failure and defalcation, they have often. been responsible for heavy losses on the part of the new immigrant population. In two or three States more or less effective measures
a See Vol. II, pp. 434-436.
have been adopted for the regulation of these "banks," and it is desirable for the protection of the immigrant that strict control be exercised over such institutions in all States where they are located.
BOARDS OF SPECIAL INQUIRY.
Boards of special inquiry are one of the most, if not the most, important factors in the administration of the immigration law. To them are referred for decision all cases held by the examining surgeon because of disease or mental or physical defects, and also every alien who may not appear to the examining immigrant inspector to be clearly and beyond doubt entitled to land. In the case of aliens certified by the examining surgeon as being afflicted with a loathsome or dangerous contagious disease, tuberculosis, or pronounced mental defects, the board has no alternative but to exclude, and from its decision in such cases there is no appeal. In the case of persons held as contract laborers or because of the likelihood that they may become a public charge, and in other cases, the board exercises discretionary power as to the admission or rejection of the alien, in which cases, however, there lies the right of appeal to the Secretary of Commerce and Labor. The boards exercise a power which if not properly used may result in injustice to the immigrant or, through the admission of undesirable aliens, in harm to the country. It is important, therefore, that these boards should be composed of unprejudiced men of ability, training, and good judgment. Under the present law these boards are appointed by the commissioners of immigration at the various ports, from such of the immigrant officials in the service as the Commissioner-General of Immigration, with the approval of the Secretary of Commerce and Labor, shall from time to time designate as qualified to serve. At ports where there are fewer than three immigrant inspectors other United States officials may be designated for service on such boards.
All hearings before boards are required to be separate and apart from the public, but a complete permanent record of the proceedings, including all testimony produced, is kept. The decision of any two members of the board shall prevail, but either the alien, or any dissenting member of the board, may take an appeal to the Secretary of Commerce and Labor, and the taking of such appeal shall operate to stay any action in regard to final disposal of the case until it has been passed upon by the Secretary. At all the important ports the boards of special inquiry are composed of immigrant inspectors, who generally are without judicial or legal training. This, together with the fact that they are selected by the commissioners of immigration at the ports where they serve, tends to impair the judicial character of the board and to influence its members in a greater or less degree to reflect in their decisions the attitude of the commissioner in determining the cases. The character of their decisions is indicated somewhat by the fact that nearly 50 per cent of the cases appealed are reversed by the Secretary of Commerce and Labor, whose decision, under the law, must be based solely upon the evidence adduced before the board. This record of reversals on appeal suggests that their decisions which are not reviewed may be equally wrong.
In justice to the immigrant, and to the country as well, the character of these boards should be improved. They should be composed of men whose ability and training fit them for the judicial functions performed, and the provision compelling their hearings to be separate and apart from the public should be repealed.
In view of the number and importance of these appeals from the boards of special inquiry, and the amount of time and labor demanded of the Secretary and Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Labor, an additional assistant secretary should be authorized by Congress.
IMMIGRATION AND CRIME.
It is impossible from existing data to determine whether the immigrant population in this country is relatively more or less criminal than the native-born population. Statistics show that the proportion of convictions for crimes according to the population is greater among the foreign-born than among the native-born. It must be remembered, however, that the proportion of persons of what may be termed the criminal age is greater among the foreign-born than among natives, and when due allowance is made for this fact it appears that criminality, judged by convictions, is about equally prevalent in each class. It is obviously impossible to determine whether the proportion of unpunished criminals is relatively greater among the foreign or among the native born. It is sometimes stated that the detection and conviction of criminals, especially for higher crimes, is more difficult in the case of the foreign-born. Probably this is true of certain localities and perhaps generally true in the case of certain nationalities, but there is no proof that this condition applies to the foreignborn element as a whole in the country at large. It is possible that in some localities prejudice against or sympathy for foreigners influences convictions or acquittals. In large cities a part of the apparent criminality of the foreign-born consists merely of violations of ordinances, which are offenses only because the persons who commit them are not naturalized. Prominent in this class of offenses is street peddling without a license in cities where such licenses are granted only to citizens.
The proportion of the more serious crimes of homicide, blackmail, and robbery, as well as the least serious offenses, is greater among the foreign-born. The disproportion in this regard is due principally to the prevalence of homicides and other crimes of personal violence among Italians and to the violation of city ordinances previously mentioned.
The United States immigration law provides for the exclusion of persons who have been convicted of or who admit having committed a crime involving moral turpitude, but notwithstanding this a considerable number of aliens of the following classes succeed in entering the United States:
1. Those who have been convicted of crime abroad and have served out their sentence.
2. Those who have been convicted of crime by foreign courts during their absence from the place of trial, having escaped arrest and fled the country.
a See Vol. II, p. 732.