Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 69.djvu/164

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


IN his recent report for the Bureau of Immigration, Commissioner General Sargent again calls attention to the dangers arising from the inadequate immigration laws of the United States. He contends that the time has come when some more effective restrictions must be introduced than those that have so far obtained. Although protests against prevailing legislation on immigration have been heard for more than fifty years, real cause for alarm has, perhaps, existed only within recent years. The total number of immigrant arrivals had never exceeded one half of a million during any one year previous to 1881. Since 1820, we have received 22,932,905 immigrants, an annual average of 269,798. During the fiscal year ending June 30, 1905, the total number of aliens who entered this country (exclusive of Canadian and Mexican immigrants), was 1,026,499, the largest aggregate of immigrant arrivals in any one year of our history. At this rate, we should receive during the next twenty years the same number of aliens that flocked to our shores during the past eighty-five years. As most of the newcomers of recent years have belonged to a class having neither trade nor profession, and as many of them are totally illiterate, it would seem that some very grave consequences must ensue as the result of their congestion within an area of a comparatively few square miles of the Atlantic seaboard. The attempt is now being made to transport many of them to those sections of the United States which can more readily absorb them. In just how far the success of this movement would mitigate present evils the future alone can reveal. Meanwhile, the problems arising from the presence of these alien hordes 'loom so largely in the prospect of our country,' declares Mr. Sargent, 'that it may be said without giving just cause for the charge of exaggeration, that all other questions of public economy relating to things rather than to human beings shrink into comparative insignificance.'

The great danger from this increase of immigration, however, arises rather through the change in its character than from mere increase in numbers. Once recruited mostly from the United Kingdom, Scandinavia and Germany, the greater part of our immigrant population now comes from Russia, Poland, Austria-Hungary, Bohemia, Italy and the Balkans. During the decade 1881-90, the proportion of immigration