Stronger Immigration Laws Needed
MUCH may yet be done toward strengthening the exclusion features
of the immigration laws, and that task must be executed by Congress.
The laws now take cognizance of Anarchists, but some of these pests
manage to get into this country, as into every other.
It has been suggested that it ought
to be insisted that each immigrant should produce a certificate
from the police authorities of the community from which he departs,
this certificate to be a guarantee of his law-abiding character.
It is generally understood, however, that this system would not
work with complete satisfaction, because the authorities would be
anxious to rid themselves of dangerous persons.
The Immigration bureau has adopted
the plan of enlisting the services of the physicians of the marine
hospitals to pass upon the physical and mental health of every intending
immigrant. This plan has worked well, the physicians recommending
the prevention of immigration in many cases.
The duty also has been imposed upon
American Consuls abroad of guarding against undesirable immigration,
and this system also has been beneficial. If the duty and authority
of the Consuls could be extended so that they would investigate
the character of intending immigrants, as well as the physical health
of such persons, that, it seems to me, would be a great advantage.
I assume that nobody but a madman
of the nature of a wild beast would commit an atrocity like that
which has startled and horrified us all at the present time, and
it seems reasonable to suppose that closer investigation of the
character, disposition, and environment, and of the political and
social affiliations of intending immigrants, would exclude many
more dangerous persons than the laws now can reach.
The laws, then, must be made more
stringent, and a system of more detailed observation and investigation
be established. This latter plan, as I have said, may be operated
through the agency of our consular system.
One is tempted at this moment to recommend
any measures, however severe, to keep these shores clean of the
foul brood of anarchy, but it is a serious problem, and one with
which Congress has wrestled in the past and will have to wrestle
with in the immediate future. The horror and indignation which have
resulted from the striking down of a man of the noble character
of our President will, I am sure, find immediate results in concerted
and decisive legislative action against anarchy.