Immigration History Film Clips
To read this 100-year-old article is to understand that the inhumane conditions of today's alien detention centers on the Southwest border are a part of a larger continuum in American history. This article addressed the atrocious conditions and brutality that was the norm on Ellis Island in the Twenties.
"But it is not the stupidity of the literacy test alone that is to be condemned. It is its inhumanity."
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 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 gross quota allowance of immigration for the new year is the same as for the last, 357,803, of which 20% or 71,000 is the maximum which may arrive in any single month... Germany has sent only 43,000 immigrants, although her quota was 67,000."
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