Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 83.djvu/331

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327
IMMIGRATION AND THE PUBLIC HEALTH

immigrants on a thoroughly adequate basis will cost money in large amount. But it is not only a good and economic investment, it is absolutely essential in order to conserve our national mental health and to ensure a normal mentality to coming generations.

Among the important agencies operating directly to promote mental public health is the present mental hygiene movement. This is a carefully organized effort of national scope, which is being directed and promoted by the National Committee for Mental Hygiene with headquarters in New York City. The field activities of this committee are under the direction of Dr. Thomas W. Salmon, of the U. S. Public Health Service. The object of the committee is to popularize the correct knowledge of the causes of mental impairment, to supply agencies for furnishing advice to persons threatened with, or actually suffering from mental breakdown, and to furnish preventive social service for such cases. Insanity is a disease and a large proportion of the cases are due to preventable causes. The National Committee is also making a medical survey of the country with reference to methods of caring for the 200,000 insane of the country. At present there is a lamentable lack of uniformity in the different states, in the facilities and methods employed in insane hospitals, and the standards of care are very low in many.

 

III. Importance of the Immigration Station for the Public Health

Any discussion of the relation of immigration to the public health must take cognizance not alone of the mental and physical effect of incoming immigrants on the present population, but must concern itself very particularly with the selection and enforcement of the best methods of excluding the unfit. The relative importance of the leading ports of entry in number of immigrants examined is shown in the following table:

 
1909 1910 1911 1912
New York (Ellis Island) 724,757 896,015 749,642 726,040
Boston 47,895 62,075 54,759 59,893
Baltimore 20,510 31,245 23,543 22,667
Philadelphia 15,083 39,671 46,857 47,742
Total for U.S. 944,235 1,198,037 1,093,809 1143,234
 

It is seen that Ellis Island, the immigration station for New York, is by far the largest port of entry. Hence it is the most representative place to study practical methods of immigrant examination. These methods have been described elsewhere in detail.[1] Certain features only need mention at this time.

  1. Alfred C. Reed, "The Medical Side of Immigration," The Popular Science Monthly, April, 1912; and "Going through Ellis Island," The Popular Science Monthly, January, 1913.