Page images

law, a codification of all existing laws regarding immigration and Chinese exclusion, with various proposed amendments, which formed an important part of last year's report and was extensively commented upon therein, only a few references to amendatory legislation are made herein. The proposed measure would be omitted but for the fact that I have reason to believe the subject of improving the law is likely to be quite generally discussed

during the ensuing twelve months, with a resulting demand for the Bureau's views.

The Bureau and Immigration Service proper are engaged in enforcing the immigration and Chinese-exclusion laws. The body of this report, therefore, is devoted to a discussion of that work. The Naturalization and Information Divisions and Services are under the supervision of their respective chiefs, whose reports are submitted herewith as Appendixes II (pp. 217–243) and III (pp. 247-258). The contents of the former need not be discussed here, but the subject covered by the latter requires some comment.

By section 40 of the immigration act authority was given the Commissioner General to establish a "division of information,” the duty of such division to be “to promote a beneficial distribution of aliens admitted into the United States among the several States and Territories desiring immigration.” Congress specified the manner in which this “beneficial distribution” should be promoted, thus:

Correspondence shall be had with the proper officials of the States and Territories, and said division shall gather from all available sources useful information regarding the resources, products, and physical characteristics of each State and Territory, and shall publish such information in different languages and distribute the publications among all admitted aliens who may ask for such information at the immigrant stations of the United States and to such other persons as may desire the

When any State or Territory appoints and maintains an agent or agents to represent it at any of the immigrant stations of the United States, such agents shall, under regulations prescribed by the Commissioner-General of Immigration, subject to the approval of the Secretary of Commerce and Labor, have access to aliens who have been admitted to the United States for the purpose of presenting, either orally or in writing, the special inducements offered by such State or Territory to aliens to settle therein.

It is gratifying to observe from the report of the division that considerable progress has been made in the past year toward carrying out the intent of Congress with regard to cooperation between the States and Territories desiring immigration and the Federal authorities, looking to the furnishing to admitted aliens of information respecting the opportunities afforded by different sections to those who desire to take up land.

That Congress intended that two methods should be followed in furnishing information and thereby promoting a “beneficial distribution” is evident from the plain language of the statute, viz, (1) the collection, by correspondence and otherwise, of useful information regarding the resources, etc., of different sections, and furnishing same to admitted aliens and others desiring it, and (2) by the States and Territories placing, representatives at immigrant stations to advise aliens orally or in writing of the opportunities offered by the various sections. "Beneficial distribution," in the light of the origin and history of the law, undoubtedly means a distribution that will benefit both the alien and the locality to which he goes; another purpose, incidental rather than immediate, being the benefiting of congested localities (cities) to which the alien is induced not to go.



That it is desirable that sparsely settled districts shall secure good settlers all must admit. That it is even more important that the further concentration of aliens in localities already overcrowded shall be prevented is not quite so generally understood, but is conceded by all who have studied the subject with any degree of care. This latter phase of the “distribution of aliens” has received such extensive consideration at the hands of philanthropic organizations and others more or less directly interested in an almost unrestricted immigration that I believe it will be of interest and profit briefly to point out some of the particulars in which the arguments of its supporters are fallacious and would if put into practice tend rather to injure than to help the interests of both the immigrants themselves and the localities.

Various organizations are struggling with this “problem” of putting the alien "where he is needed” and preventing his settling in colonies in the large cities and centers of industry, to which places most immigrants of to-day wish to go. Some of these organizations are purely of a business nature. Others are, or pretend to be, patríotic or philanthropic in their purposes. Still others combine two or all three of these features. In their actual and avowed purposes, they range all the way from combinations of ticket agents, money lenders, and labor agencies working to a large extent for the benefit of the steamship companies and employers of cheap unskilled labor (mentioned more in detail at p. 119), or labor agencies on the Mexican border engaged in procuring Mexican peons and distributing them throughout the West and Southwest, to the State and municipal organizations conducted bona fide and from high, pure motives, but often incidentally producing some of the same effects as the selfish organizations.

These various schemes for distribution in the broad sense are subject to several practical difficulties which are often overlooked by those who deal with the matter from the theoretical viewpoint only, viz:

1. If it ever was feasible to devise a complete, efficient plan for the general distribution of aliens, it is probably now too late to stem the tide which has set toward certain localities where alien nucleus colonies have been established, constituting additional reasons why the new immigrants are drawn to them.

2. Even though a certain number of aliens may be “distributed," they will not remain where placed unless the arrangement coincides with their desires and unless physically and mentally adapted to their new surroundings, as a large percentage of those who now insist on herding in the cities never will be.

3. Distribution is not now, if it ever was, the real remedy for the evils which admittedly result from immigration; although, doubtless, if some far-reaching plan could have been devised years ago it might have alleviated or postponed some of those evils, at least in their local manifestations as observed in the congested centers, and, doubtless, also, some slight good effect may be expected to result incidentally from the efforts exerted to induce settlers to locate in agricultural districts in the manner specified in the law above quoted.

4. As a matter of fact, in the present condition of the immigration business (for it has become a business in the fullest sense of that term), I am inclined to believe that our difficulties in the aggregate, viewing the matter from a national standpoint, are increased rather than reduced by the various schemes--private, charitable, and publicthat are being operated or advocated and advertised for the general distribution of aliens.

The fourth point above stated needs some further consideration. So far as transoceanic immigration is concerned, the greatest beneficiaries are the steamship lines; with respect to Mexican peon labor, the large employers and labor agencies. Any plan for the distribution of alien laborers, if carried out, must have a tendency to increase immigration and confer additional benefits upon the beneficiaries mentioned. If the distribution affects the aliens at the time of importation, and extends the field in which they may be placed at a wage sufficient to afford a bare existence, the demand for additional numbers is increased directly: The theory upon which most of these plans rest, that there is an almost unlimited demand for common labor in this country, is now, and has been for some time, unwarranted by the facts. It is true, of course, that such concerns as railway lines, constructing contractors, meat-packing houses, and the like, using large numbers of unskilled laborers, are always glad to have a surplus on hand, so as to be in position to keep wages at the minimum; but the demand in this direction is too frequently created by the refusal of the employers to pay a living wage or to furnish steady employment to be a reliable indication of actual conditions. It is also true that at certain seasons of the year, when crops are being harvested, there is a heavy demand for farm labor in the West; but such labor is expected to have some knowledge of farm work, is wanted only for limited periods, and, except in few instances, can not be employed by the year or even for a season. In recent years this temporary demand for an increased number of farm hands has been met in various ways—in some localities by the farmers offering exceptional inducements, thereby securing the services of laborers usually employed in other industries, such laborers going back to their regular employment after receiving a high wage for a short period on the farms. Because the farmer needs additional help during certain periods, it does not follow that the country should be flooded with cheap foreign labor which during the greater part of the year is forced to accept a wage that affords only a bare subsistence, tending to reduce the American standard of wages and living. In reference to the willingness of certain agencies to employ new immigrant laborers rather than those who have been here for a considerable time, also as to the bad economic conditions prevailing among many alien workers in the congested districts of New York City, see what is said in the report of the commissioner of immigration for New York (p. 152).

This so-called problem of distribution, in so far as it relates to others than settlers (i. e., those who desire to acquire land), will, it seems to me, be solved by the natural law of supply and demand, assuming, of course, that the aliens are fit subjects of distribution, as otherwise artificial means could have no lasting effect. Thus, if it is true that our large centers are congested with people who are barely able to eke out an existence, while on the other hand there is a scarcity of labor in other sections, the demand should be sufficiently insistent to produce such an offer of wages and working conditions as would influence those in the congested districts to take advantage of it; for, after all, the average wage earner, if

unencumbered, has but little preference between different sections, providing wages are made an inducement; but just so long as the demand is met by importing cheap labor from abroad this congestion must continue, and while the demand will in a way be supplied that result will be brought about only to the ultimate disadvantage or utter destruction of that kind of living and wages which we have been so proud to term the "American standard."


Immigration for the past fiscal year was 878,587, which is less than the total for the preceding year (1,041,570) by 162,983 aliens. The decrease is confined to the last eight months of the year, November having shown an influx of 10,696, December 9,230, January 13,881, February 15,154, March 55,058, April 37,016, May 38,183, and June 34,006 less than the same months, respectively, of the previous year; whereas July recorded 6,935, August 18,797, September 16,312, and October 8,197 more, respectively, than the corresponding months of the fiscal year 1910. ·

In addition to the 878,587 aliens of the immigrant class above mentioned, 151,713 of the nonimmigrant class entered a total of 1,030,300. Departures during the year embraced 518,215 aliens, 295,666 of whom were of the emigrant and 222,549 of the nonemigrant class. The net gain in population by immigration, therefore, was 512,085, as compared with 817,619 for the fiscal year 1910 and 543,843 for 1909. With this preliminary statement of the chief totals, it seems desirable to discuss the more interesting details of the statistics. Some of the tables do not require any comment; others are referred to hereinafter.

The tables correspond numerically and in arrangement with those presented in the last report. Figures for the Philippines are presented at the bottom of each table, the Chief of the Bureau of Insular Affairs having again courteously cooperated with this Bureau, to the end that all the insular possessions may be represented and the tables show immigration to the United States as an entirety, and thereby be made more valuable for reference and citation.

In Table I the year's work is concisely summarized. This table shows arrivals and departures of aliens of the immigrant and nonimmigrant and the emigrant and nonemigrant classes, the number rejected, and the number expelled after entering the country; also the arrivals and departures of citizens. Notwithstanding the fact that immigration has decreased by 162,983 aliens, the rejections in 1911 were 22,349, as against 24,270 in 1910; so that the ratio of rejections to admissions has increased 0.1 per cent (i. e., 2 per cent of the applicants were rejected in 1910, while 2.1 per cent were excluded in 1911). In the former year 2,695 aliens were arrested and expelled from the country; in the past year 2,788, an increase of about 2.8

per cent.

1 In the classification of aliens the terms (1) immigrant and emigrant, and (2) nonimmigrant and nonemigrant, respectively, relate (1) to permanent arrivals and departures, and (2) to temporary arrivals and departures. In compiling the statistics under this classification the following rule is observed: Arriving aliens whose permanent domicile has been outside the United States who intend to reside permanently in the United States are classed as immigrant aliens; departing aliens whose permanent residence has been in the United States who intend to reside permanently abroad are classed as emigrant aliens: all alien residents of the United States making a temporary trip abroad and all aliens residing abroad making a temporary trip to the United States are classed as nonemigrant aliens on the outward journey and nonimmigrant on the inward.

Tables II to IV show the net increase or decrease of population by arrival and departure of aliens, comparing the fiscal years 1910 and 1911 by months, by countries, and by races. In the past fiscal year 878,587 immigrant aliens and 151,713 nonimmigrant aliens, a total of 1,030,300, were admitted, and during the same period 295,666 emigrant aliens and 222,549 nonemigrant aliens, a total of 518,215, departed from the United States. The net increase in population by immigration, therefore, has been 512,085. From this number, however, to arrive at an absolutely correct conclusion, it would be necessary to deduct the number of naturalized citizens of the United States who have left this country for permanent residence abroad, and it is impossible to obtain from existing records figures in relation to them. The net increase for 1910 was 817,619, or 305,534 more than that for the past year.

Table VI gives the occupations of aliens entering and leaving the country, segregated into professional, skilled, and miscellaneous. Of common, unskilled laborers, 175,674' (155,996 immigrant and 19,678 nonimmigrant) entered, and 237,046 (173,952 emigrant and 63,094 nonemigrant) departed, as against arrivals of members of the skilled trades aggregating 177,676 (148,892 immigrant and 28,784 nonimmigrant) and departures of the same aggregating 69,020 (33,473 emigrant and 35,547 nonemigrant). These figures should be compared with those shown in the same table in the last report, which were as follows: Unskilled laborers arriving, 239,026 (214,300 immigrant and 24,726 nonimmigrant); unskilled laborers departing, 131,672 (89,393 emigrant and 42,279 nonemigrant); skilled laborers arriving, 163,789 (138,570 immigrant and 25,219 nonimmigrant); skilled laborers departing, 51,942 (21,574 emigrant and 30,368 nonemigrant).

The second series of detailed tables, numbered VII to XII A, covers immigrant aliens admitted and emigrant aliens departed, and furnishes with respect to each, in consecutive order, items of interest and importance. These are the most important tables, as they deal with the true immigrant and the true emigrant, economically the most interesting of the classes statistically recorded. Data regarding sex, age, literacy, financial condition, how passage was paid, and whether coming to join a relative or friend are given in Table VII with respect to admitted aliens; while there are given in its counterpart, Table VII A, data regarding sex, age, and how long in the United States with respect to emigrant aliens leaving the country.

Of the total number of immigrant aliens admitted (878,587), 714,709 were between the ages of 14 and 44, while 117,837 were under 14 and 46,041 were 45 or over. The figures for the preceding year were: Total admitted, 1,041,570; aged 14 to 44, inclusive, 868,310; under 14, 120,509; 45 and over, 52,751.

Of those admitted, 182,273 (122,735 males and 59,538 females) could neither read nor write and 2,930 (1,496 males and 1,434 females) could read but not write. These figures do not include any aliens less than 14 years of age. In the year 1910, 253,569 of those admitted could neither read nor write and 4,571 could read but not write, a total of 258,140 illiterates, against a total of 185,203 for the past year, a decrease of 72,937. This may be more correctly presented, however, by saying that of those admitted in 1910 over 14 years of age (921,061), 258,140, or 28 per cent, were illiterate; of those admitted

« PreviousContinue »