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
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.