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A speech, whose transcript was presented in The Jewish Herald of Houston, Texas, dated March 26, 1909:
 

should immigration be further restricted
by maude deutchner


 

The question before as is, whether immigration should be restricted. It should not, in many ways. Taking it on the political side, it has been very helpful. Immigrants have exerted a great influence on public affairs. They have furnished many wise political leaders, they have also been on the right side of moral questions, also slavery and sound money. They have in no ways modified our institutions or ideals!

Foreigners as a class have made virtuous and patriotic citizens. The statement that municipal politics have suffered is unsound. Municipal politics have suffered from the indifference of the educated of this country; not from the illiterate of the foreign born, the present laws today, exclude all who are politically undesirable, such as anarchists, criminals and assisted persons. The interests of civilization require that immigration be as free as possible. The United States should pursue the mission of protection and education, in which it has accomplished so much.

Now take immigration on the social line of the past; it has been socially helpful; it has immeasurably increased the population; it has settled the West, given compactness to the East, and vitality and energy to the nation. The best qualities of the European race have been contributed to this country; their coming here has had a great civilizing influence on the nation, you will find that the least progressive state are those with the least number of foreign born. The most progressive are those with the most foreign born. The most progressive are those with the most foreign born. The argument that immigration has contributed in an uneven way to the vicious and pauper classes is also untrue....proportion of foreign born, able-bodied criminals and mendicants is not unduly large; the present laws exclude all who are socially undesirable, such as idiots, insane, paupers and those likely to become a public charge, diseased and immoral persons also. The statement that more Italians and Hebrews should be excluded is all uncalled for.

Take the Italians first, they are frugal, orderly and faithful, of course there are exceptions in all classes, even Americans, not only foreigners. The Hebrews are also ambitious and quick to succeed, temperate and patriotic. The cry against these races is as senseless as that against the Germans and Irish used to be. The argument that immigration should be restricted because of the tendency of immigrants to gather together in the slums, is unsound, a better system of distribution would remedy all this. That system they are working on daily. The argument that immigrants cannot be assimilated is untrue, even it cities where the proportion of foreign born is greatest, new-comers are readily assimilated.

Now let us look at this question from an economic standpoint. Immigration of the past has been economically helpful, it has enabled vast enterprises to be carried out, railroads, canals, highways and public works. It has permitted the rapid development of natural resources. Also the redemption of waste places, in all it has added directly to the Nation's wealth. So any further exclusion of immigrants would be economically harmful. Industry could not be carried on without plentiful labor. It would strengthen the hands of the union, and a further monopoly of the labor market would be possible. The illiteracy test is an unwise one, it is not based on sound principles, nor is illiteracy any criterion of worth. It has no connection with crime or vagrancy, an illiterate man will make a good worker in the field or factory; his lack of education has nothing to do with his worth as a workman. For instance, if they make a test of the illiteracy question, it would amount to nothing, as they would find in the end that it would exclude lots of good able-bodied and hard working people. Therefore, that question would stand no showing at all. Now that I have given you this debate from a studied standpoint, [I] shall proceed to give you my reasons why immigration should not be restricted.

First of all, I will ask you a question. Your parents are all foreign born, some of you likewise, they and you have made good citizens, haven't they? They have established a good business here, in fact are even independent of you. Some have accumulated lots of money, others are merely comfortably fixed; enough they are not dependent on city or county for a livelihood. Have we not room for more like them? Certainly. They you say immigration should be restricted. Yes, to those [who] are afflicted, as we have too much of that on our streets today; each country should be made to take care of their own unfortunates. Then again take the importation of potatoes from England; isn't it laughable when we have hundreds and hundreds or acres of land laying idle, good land, where everything growable could be raised. Evidently we lack people to work it, or else our farming people are too lazy to work it; if such be the case either way, then we need more immigration, not restriction of it.

There is one question, we are all thoroughly conversant with, and that is that foreigners of all descriptions, as a rule are thoroughly industrious and hard working. They know nothing else but thriftiness from infancy. I believe I could stand here for an hour or more, and cite instances where immigration should be urged and worked on, with all our might and main; but as there are others to be heard besides myself tonight, I will close this and say that immigration should not be restricted by no means whatsoever.

 


 

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