Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 66.djvu/535

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
531
THE PROBLEM OF IMMIGRATION.

THE PROBLEM OF IMMIGRATION.
By Dr. ALLAN MCLAUGHLIN,

U. S. PUBLIC HEALTH AND MARINE HOSPITAL SERVICE, WASHINGTON, D. C.

AS has been pointed out, the extension of our immigration inspection service to the Canadian and Mexican frontiers, and the splendid work done on the border by the immigration officers, have closed the last gateways open to violators of our immigration laws. Not only are the laws enforced rigidly at United States ports and border towns, but by agreement with the Canadian steamship authorities, American officers are stationed at Quebec, Montreal, Halifax, St. John and Victoria, B. C, for the inspection of immigrants destined to the United States through Canada. Our present immigration laws are effective against many of the most undesirable classes of immigrants and our immigration officers by their vigorous enforcement of these laws have acquired a reputation in Europe which has a deterrent effect upon the undesirable classes. Every defective alien deported to Europe advertises the fact that we will not permit 'paupers, diseased persons or persons likely to become a public charge' to land. But the law at present is ineffective as applied to the class usually referred to as 'persons of poor physique.' They are admitted because it can not be shown definitely that they are likely to become a public charge.' They have friends, perhaps, who live in the city and vouch for their ability to earn a living, or their skill in a sweat-shop occupation is accepted as evidence that they will not become dependents.

In the immigration question, two great problems present themselves, the separation of the undesirable from the desirable classes, and the distribution of our landed immigrants. President Roosevelt in his message to the Fifty-eighth Congress, December, 1903, with characteristic directness, strikes to the heart of the question, and gives the following concise expression of its problems:

We can not have too much immigration of the right kind, and we should have none at all of the wrong kind. The need is to devise some system by which undesirable immigrants shall be kept out entirely, while desirable immigrants are properly distributed throughout the country. At present some districts which need immigrants have none; and in others, where the population is already congested, immigrants come in such numbers as to depress the conditions of life for those already there.

This brings us to the question of what constitutes a desirable immigrant. The first requisite of a desirable immigrant is good physique.