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North America, Take It Away


Rooted in racial and economic prejudices as outmoded as Salem witch-trials, the present United States immigration policy of restriction stands as a defenseless blot on our national conscience. On ethical grounds,-America, founded and populated by millions escaping political or religious persecution, is irrevocably committed to liberal immigration. But humanitarian reasons have been secondary to a people who grudgingly legalize entry for 39,000 Eastern and Southern Europeans annually, while 850,000 wallow homeless in Allied DI' camps alone. The causes of American inaction are deeper and deserve examination.

Written under the twin delusions that Americans were chiefly of Anglo-Saxon origin, and that this stock was greatly preferable to Eastern and Southern European strains, the Immigration Restriction Act of 1924 limits total annual immigration to 150,000, with individual nations held to a number proportional to their representation in the total 1920 United States population. However, the "Anglo-Saxons" and "Nordies" received a disproportionately large slice, for other Europeans were considered to be relatively inferior and undesirable. The emigration motivations of the latter were thought to be economic rather than religious or political. Unskilled and numerous, they appeared to menace full employment, the standard of living, and the assimilation process. A popular political bandwagon to jump on in 1924, restricted immigration appealed at once to lunatic fringe racists, the Southern-gentryeld-aristocrat groups and workers seeing vague threats to jobs, wage standards, and advancement opportunities. There was no opposition--restriction was unanimous.

But 1924 thinking smacks of Alice-in Wonderland in 1946. Western Europeans have shown little tendency to emigrate. Rather, the great mass of potential immigrants stem from Eastern Europe and seek no economic mecca but merely a simon simple escape from religious and political persecution. Objective tests have conclusively exposed the myth of racial superiority and inferiority. Thoroughly assimilated and educated, second generation Americans of Easttern and southern European stock have proved that previous environment, not race, accounted for the initially poor impressions made by their parents.

Large scale immigration offers no threat to the national economy. for the most part unskilled today as in 1900, the potential immigrants could, to a large extent, alleviate the present manpower shortage existing chiefly in unskilled labor fields and could not budge high wage scales which are securely guarded by organized labor. Similarly, immigrants present no long-run unemployment problems, for industry, expanding under the impetus of increased demand and technological advancement, would absorb them. Finally, a sizable increase in our population and birth rate would do much to overcome a trend which now threatens to leave us far behind other nations in manpower potential fifty years from now.

The true obstacles to increased immigration, then, are not rational but emotional. The immigrants are there and land and economic potential are here. Cushioned upon entry by relatives and welfare agencies, the hounded of Europe would soon lend the Nation their talents, enthusiasms, and numbers. Humane principles call for increased immigration. Economic standards offer no objections. The door must he opened.

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