The new crush of immigrants which has lately rushed upon New York and Boston brings to light once more the bad features of the existing quota regulations, plus a new quirk. Secretary of Labor Davis has allowed to land from three to four thousand newly arrived foreigners in excess of the established quota. Although he is apparently within his legal rights. European governments will almost certainly take this as a frank confession that the present law is not living up to the expectations of its framers. This is a sharp break in the prevailing immigration policy, and the first question foreign governments will ask is why their citizens in previous instances of quota ineligibility have been turned back, while the present extra numbers have been allowed to come in. A significant fact in this connection is that at least two-thirds of the extras just admitted are British subjects.
It is well argued that since this country was constructed on Angle-Saxon principles, none but Angle-Saxon immigrants or Northern Europeans closely skin are proper stuff for our "melting pot". By eliminating the fallacious idea that the United States is a "melting pot" and the sentimental idea that every immigrant whatever ought to a welcomed in, the soundness of this argument is apparent. But the immigration law of 1920-1921, which attempted to put this into effect, generalized too far. In the first place, there are certainly individuals from southern Europe who are morally, mentally and physically fitted for citizenship, just as there are certainly individuals from northern Europe who are not so fitted. To discriminate against immigrants en mass by national quota is both unjust and unreasonable. And in the second place, by giving the Secretary of Labor wide personal latitude in executing the law, there is a strong possibility that international hostility many be aroused through apparent injustices.
A far more equliable law, which would also avoid the necessity for such ambiguous action as that of Secretary Davis, would make the entrance of each individual immigrant depend on a personal examination, designed to show the applicant's fitness on grounds of physical mental, and moral fitness without regard to the country from which he comes. This would undoubtedly entail a larger personnel of examiners, and examiners of bigh calibre; and to avoid the present inhumanity of sending back unlikely prospects, the examinations would have to be held on the other side. Certainly the difficulties are great but unless some such change is made immigration ought to be completely stopped or the bars let completely down.
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