Immigration History Film Clips
In this 1920 AMERICAN LEGION WEEKLY article the mojo of the Red Scare (1917 to 1920)is fully intact and beautifully encapsulated by W.L. Whittlesey who condemned the U.S. Government for ever having allowed large numbers of socialist immigrants to enter the country and spread their discontent throughout the fruited plane. On the other hand, the writer was grateful that the government was finally tending to the matter of deporting them in large numbers and doing so with every legal means available.
"'A 3 percent remedy' for our immigration ills, real or fancied, will restrict the admission of aliens from May of this year to June, 1922, to 3 percent of the total of each nationality in this country when the Federal census was taken in 1910. As passed by the house, and expected to pass the Senate, the new measure, except for the time limit, is identical with the Johnson Bill passed in the last session of Congress and killed by pocket-veto of President Wilson."
"But the Johnson Bill does not set up a permanent restrictive policy; it is intended merely to protect this country for the next fourteen months from a horde of Europe's most objectionable classes."
One hundred years ago the U.S. Government processed immigrants through a quota system - entry would be granted if the applicants arrived before the quota amount arriving from their country had not been reached - and if they passed their physical examination. The immigration agents did not accept one nationality for citizenship officially while permitting hundreds of thousands from this same country to reside illegally, as is the practice today. The attached column pertains to how unfair the quota system was and how it tended to break-up families. President Harding's response to this issue is quoted.
"...many would-be immigrants arriving at the port of New York had been refused admission and been sent home again, because they had happened to arrive a few hours after their country's legal quota for the month..."
The testimony given in this column from the early Twenties is as true today as it was then. It was written by a 1905 immigrant who observed that the first word immigrants learn when arriving in America is "BUY". When presented at every corner with products they'd never seen before in tandem with the smiling and encouraging face of the sales staff, the immigrant can't help but feel an inner drive to join the American society:
"And when he succumbs, why wonder that he grows more aggressive, demanding higher wages and striking when the demand is denied?"
In an effort to keep the writers and actors of the Works Progress Administration busy, FDR's Department of the Interior produced a 26-part radio program intended "to prove that America could never have become so great without the contributions" of all the various hyphenated groups that make up the country. On Sunday afternoon throughout much of 1938, Americans could gather around their radios, if they had them, and hear their "identity groups" being praised by the Government: African-Americans tuned in on December 18th; the WASP show was on December fourth.
Horace M. Kallen (1888 - 1974) was a deep thinker who questioned the practice of "Americanization" (ie. assimilation). In this 1915 article, Kallen contended that although immigrants to American shores are required to develop allegiances to certain self-evident beliefs that are embraced throughout our republic - but outside of that, there is no reason that immigrants should not be able to maintain their own ethnic and cultural identities. In the Eighties, those who embraced this line of thinking preferred to call America a "salad bowl" as opposed to a "melting pot".
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