Source: Gunton’s Magazine
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: “Three Objects of Immigration Restriction”
Date of publication: October 1901
Volume number: 21
Issue number: 4
|“Three Objects of Immigration Restriction.” Gunton’s Magazine Oct. 1901 v21n4: pp. 302-04.|
|anarchism (laws against).|
Three Objects of Immigration Restriction
There are several lines of policy that might be, ought to be,
and for the safety of free government must be, undertaken without further delay.
Some of them ought to have been undertaken long ago, and further neglect will
be unpardonable cowardice.
A rigid and comprehensive immigration law ought to be enacted, with a three-fold object: first, to exclude absolutely all persons who are known as believers in anarchistic principles or members of anarchistic societies; second, to exclude all below a certain educational standard of fitness for citizenship in the United States; third, to exclude all below a certain standard of economic fitness to enter our industrial field as competitors with American labor.
The first provision would not, of course, be infallible, but it would serve at least as a sieve and intercept the majority of the worst type of anarchists seeking asylum in this country. To enforce this would require a more extensive secret service in connection with our consular  posts in foreign countries, and a more rigid system of examination at our immigration ports. It ought not to be nearly so difficult to do this as to thwart spies in disguise, coming from an enemy in time of war. The anarchist’s hand is against all government, and he should be classed as a public enemy and excluded for the same kind of reasons that the spy is watched for and captured. Much can be done in this direction, and must be; it is futile to pass repressive measures against anarchists already here, while doing nothing to stop the constant incoming of fresh recruits.
The second object of a rigid immigration law should be to secure, by a careful and not merely perfunctory educational test, at least some intelligent capacity to appreciate American institutions and act sanely as American citizens. It is very true that this alone probably would not keep out a single anarchist; they are usually men of considerable intelligence and sometimes high education; but it would do what is almost equally important,—tend to reduce the background of ignorance in which envy, passion, suspicion and hatred of authority are born, and out of which anarchistic sentiment most naturally springs.
The third point of an immigration law should be an adequate economic test,—proper proof of personal capacity to earn an American living, and the possession of a stated sum of money, enough to insure a decent start under American conditions. This would serve a purpose somewhat like the educational test, in insuring a higher general standard of immigration, but it would also give two other results even more important: first, it would practically stop the influx of cheap labor competition, which gives rise to so much of bitterness in American industrial life; second, it would help dry up the springs of the pestilential social conditions in our great cities, where anarchistic organizations flourish,  and to which the anarchist haranguers and agents constantly point as proofs of the tyranny of government. Both the educational and economic tests in a new immigration law should be designed to protect and elevate the general social background, and thus aid in destroying anarchism by inexorably closing in on its field of opportunity.