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menace to the elimination of unfit aliens through medical inspection." Figures which seem almost not to be hoped for are such as these (Public Health Service Annual Report, 1903, p. 205). "Eagle Pass Texas: certified 93, deported 93."

See also Public Health Service Report for 1915, p. 195. In the Public Health Service Report for 1910, p. 169, the following table is valuable in this connection, showing how deportations and certifications stood at Ellis Island for the preceding fiscal year:

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Of the total certifications to be acted on during the year for mental reasons, 88 per cent were actually deported during the year. The 26 who were landed were not deported for the following reasons: Proved to be United States citizens or United States born.... 11 Landed on appeal...

9 Landed on bond..

4 Died........

2 As far as the law is concerned then, only thirteen of these give us reason to pause.

The Report of 1915 (p. 205) shows that out of a total of 448 aliens certified for mental defect, 327 were deported, i.e., 72 per cent.

35 “When Liberty Turns Her Back.Outlook, August 17, 1921.

“Canada Bars the Gates." Kenneth L. Roberts. Saturday Evening Post, August 12, 1922.

“Ellis Island Sob Stories.” Ernest Greenwood. Saturday Evening Post, July 7, 1923.

"On Ellis Island.People's Journal, April 8, 1922. “Some Items from Ellis Island.Presbyterian Magazine, March 1922.

"America's International Clearing House." National Catholic Welfare Council Bulletin, September 1921, T. F. Mulholland.

"The Church at Work at Ellis Island.” Raymond E. Cole. The Living Church, January 7, 1922.

"Practical Americanization at Ellis Island. The Outlook, February 8, 1922. Series by Gino Speranza, World's Work, 1923–24. Three articles, Survey, October 30, 1920, etc.




At this point, in order to have in mind more fully, the place at which the country was in the gradual development of its immigration system at the beginning of this study it is perhaps necessary to make a short survey of the progress of the law, especially as it concerns the mental side of the immigrant.

Only after 1820 was any definite count made, and the date of the first legislation by the national government, in regard to immigration did not come till 1882. Before this time, both regulation and inspection, had rested entirely with the individual states, although the inadequacy of the plan was increasingly felt. Even after 1882, complete federal control was not established for nearly another decade.

It is hard to realize that up till so late a date, the actual responsibility in regard to immigration, had not been a matter of national care, and it is perhaps equally a cause for wonder that in the forty odd years in which the government has assumed control, so much has been done.

That the mental make up of the immigrant early called for attention, is no surprise. The strictnessó of the law in this respect has steadily increased. Below are listed the various kinds of mental defect, in their classes, followed by the date at which they appeared upon the excluded list. Lunatics (insane).

18826 Idiots....

1882 Epileptics.

1903 Imbeciles..

19077 Feebleminded....

1907 Mentally or physically defective.

1907 (Such defect as may affect the ability to earn a living) Constitutional Psychopathic Inferiority...

19178,9 In 1915 for the first time, the "Mentally or Physically Defective" class, was separated into "Mentally Defective” on the one

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side and "Physically Defective" on the other, so that from this date on, we find the two separate classifications.

Another change of interest—that has been found necessary at two separate times-is in regard to the "Insane.” In 1903 instead of the simple earlier reading, the law was made to read, 10 as follows: "Insane" and "persons who have been insane within five years previous, and also “persons who have had two or more attacks of insanity at any time previously.” In 1917 there was further change and the clause was worded "Insane” and “Persons who have had one or more attacks of insanity at any time previously.” These varying phrases suggest the difficulty that has been found in the interpretation of "Insane."

Other points in the general development that should be noted are:

1. The steady increase of the Federal Head Tax. In 1882 we find it $.50; in the text of the Law of 1917, it stands at $8, children however under sixteen who accompany their father and mother not being subject to the tax. People in discussing the immigration question often forget that this source of revenue for expenses exists.

2. That the deportation of aliens admitted contrary to law, at first (in 1891) only possible within one year after landing, then within two years and then three years, is by the Law of 1917, allowed at any time within five years after entrance into the country. Anarchists, and persons who were criminals before coming to the United States may be deported, however, "irrespective of the time of their entry,” and since 1910 the same has been true for prostitutes and those connected with prostitution.

This deportation after entrance is another fact that is sometimes almost forgotten, but if one has once seen, for instance, a group of 150, collected from different parts of the country, and brought to Ellis Island to be put on ships from there, it is not forgotten.13

3. That in 1907, the law required steamship 14 companies to furnish lists of outgoing passengers. This seems important in the consideration of the whole question of immigration. Who goes back, may be as important as who stays.

4. That the fines for bringing in aliens15 not admitted by law were both increased, in 1917 over the Law of 1907, and extended


as well, to further classes, while an added penalty is imposed in that the steamship company so fined must pay also an amount equal to that paid by each alien for his transportation, this amount to be turned over to the debarred alien by a United States official."

5. That an appeal to a Medical Board of Officers of the United States Public Health Service is allowed in mental cases, where the alien, if he so chooses, may introduce one expert medical witnessanother step made in 1917.17

6. That before the “Boards of Special Inquiry” into doubtful cases, aliens may have witnesses.

These points, singled out from many, are specially emphasized; because remembrance of them is many times a great help, to understanding.

We now have come to the consideration of a provision which in spite of much criticism, is probably more far reaching in its beneficial effect on the mental well being of the country than anything before it, however important, has been, with the exception of the exclusion of the feebleminded in 1907. This is the establishing in 1917, of the so-called “Illiteracy Test.”

For twenty years the question of some sort of "reading test" had appeared at intervals in the deliberations of Congress. In 1897 President Cleveland vetoed a general immigration bill largely because it contained such a clause. In 1898 a bill of like nature passed the Senate; but was lost in the House; yet still the question persisted. Two other Presidents gave their veto, President Taft and President Wilson, who even vetoed twice. But over this last veto Congress finally passed the measure.

The “Immigration Commission” created by Congress, had in its report spoken of some such provision as "the most feasible single means" of bringingl' about desired restriction. amount of effect that such a test would have, was of course unknown. What it might be, could only be conjectured, as no existing figures covered the problem as it stood. We must now look a bit at the law and its working.

By its provisions, in addition to the classes already excluded by law, the following are excluded: "All aliens over 16, physically capable of reading, who can not read the English language, or some other language or dialect including Hebrew and Yiddish." Then come the exceptions, and as it all bears so closely on this study, they may be quoted in detail. The wording goes on: "Provided: That any admissible alien, or any alien heretofore or hereafter legally admitted, or any citizen of the United States, may bring in or send for his father or grandfather over fifty-five years of age, his wife, his mother, his grandmother, or his unmarried or widowed daughter, if otherwise admissible whether such relative can read or not, and such relative shall be permitted to enter.” The law provides definite instructions for its own carrying out. The immigrant inspector is to provide slips of uniform size prepared under the direction of the Secretary of Labor, "each containing not less than 30 nor more than 40 words in ordinary use, printed in plainly legible type in some one of the various languages or dialects of immigrants." Each alien is to designate his particular language, and is required to read the words printed on the slip in such language.

Then follow in the law the exempt classes (individuals fleeing from religious persecution, people in transit, etc.) always a most interesting as well as dangerous section, but not of special moment perhaps in our present consideration. Commissioner Husband, in discussing the law, points out that this test is qualitative and not quantitative; for if the illiterate are excluded, the literate may come in their places, so that numbers may not be affected.

He also points out that the test is simple, and that "anyone could fit himself to meet it in a short time if he so desired.” This seems to me in a way true, and in a way not. In any case, I should say that the facts as they stand are not in the least detrimental to the value of the test. If the test can be prepared for, then surely anyone capable of such preparation” is not of the kind that the law meant to exclude.

Although we cannot in any way compare the "illiteracy” figures of 1914, with any results obtained under the working of the 1917 law, as the old figures by "illiteracy" meant lack of both reading and writing, and had 14 years as the age limit, yet I do want to show from a racial interest, the worst nationalities there quoted in this regard.


per cent illiterate

62.622 49.5

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