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THE SEVERAL FILTERINGS OF THE IMMIGRANT STREAM DIRECTED
TOWARD THE UNITED STATES
The CHAIRMAN. The United States, as a sovereign nation, can control absolutely its own immigration policy. Not to do so is an abandonment of sovereignty.
Doctor LAUGHLIN. The United States, as an immigrant-receiving country, must protect its own interests by filtering the incoming stream of immigrants as thoroughly and as many times as may be necessary, in order to admit only the number and quality of immigrants whom it desires. The foreign nation from which the emigrant comes may be willing occasionally to let a few superior individuals leave the home country. But, when the home government takes a hand in selecting permanent emigrants, the American people must understand that the European nation, as an exporter, will not have primarily in mind the interests of the American people. Each nation must look after its own welfare.
Chronologically, the several filterings of this stream by America could well run as follows: First, the visé by the American consul in the country of origin, residence, or citizenship of the would be emigrant. This visé would be based upon knowledge secured by investigating the individual quality and the family stocks of the emigrant in his home community. The responsibility for supplying such information would be placed on the would-be emigrant, and would not be demanded by the American consul until the home country of the emigrant had granted the latter a passport. Second, immigration inspection at the port of landing in the United States, where thorough physical, mental, and pathological tests are given the emigrant. This filtering is the one that in ordinary American immigration practice has resulted in debarring many individuals, and knowledge of its existence has deterred many others from attempting entrance. It has always constituted the principal filtering of the stream, whereas the tendency now is to make the principal screening in the American consulates, and the Ellis Island filtering a secondary refinement. The third filtering could be constituted by the registering and checking up of aliens in the United States and deporting those who, despite earlier precautions, succeeded in passing through the earlier filters. If there was a fourth refinement legally and administratively possible, it would consist in the revocation of the certificates of naturalization of certain persons 'naturalized by fraud, or contrary to the intent of the law.
These several possible filterings are named in chronological order. We can take another viewpoint in which we would list the successive filterings from the legal point of view. In this case the first filtering is represented by the quota law, which restricts the absolute numbers of immigrants and distributes the numbers admissible among the several nationalities. The second filtering consists in selecting immigrants within these quota allotments in accordance with the high standards for individual and family stock values which we desire.
Thus, from whatever viewpoint we look at the matter, eternal vigilance and successive filterings and refinements of the immigrant stream, for any immigrant-receiving nation like America, is the price for making immigration a national asset. The American people to-day have developed these successive filterings in theory. They
now need more refined biological standards and more effective administration. We have shown that while many superior immigrants of many races have recently come to the United States, along with them there has been an undúly large percentage of dross, which should have been handled by the countries of origin and not sent to the United States for ultimate elimination by this country in its national efforts to improve the hereditary qualities of its peoples. But there is no sound biological reason why, by continually sifting the immigrant stream, in reference to those natural-trait standards so highly prized by the American Nation, immigration could not help to maintain, and even to elevate, the natural quality of the American people.
EXAMINATION OF WOULD-BE IMMIGRANTS IN THEIR HOME TERRI
The CHAIRMAN. Now, Doctor Laughlin has been instrumental in promoting the idea that we should develop a form of questionnaire on which intending immigrants would describe themselves to the satisfaction of our consuls. He held from the beginning that, inasmuch as the United States consul gives a visé to the passport of the prospective immigrant, he should have the right to make such inquiries as would warrant him in giving his visé to the passport.
Doctor LAUGHLIN. If it were possible to examine a strange individual, and by such examination to determine not only his present physical and mental qualities and his moral reactions, but also to predict future development and his probable quality as a sire of future immigrants, the ideal law would provide for examination of the would-be immigrants at Ellis Island only. But there are several factors upon which light can not be thrown by personal examination alone. These factors refer particularly to the probable future development of the individual, and to his probable quality as a parent. At best, information of value along these lines is difficult to secure. It is absolutely impossible to secure it by examining the individual alone, or by seeking testimony away from his home territories. It is, however, possible, as we håve demonstrated by the sample study' which I am laying before your committee to-day, to show that much information concerning the innate qualities of the would-be immigrant, and his probable blood value as a parent, can be obtained by modern field investigation in the home territory of the immigrant. Thus the quota allotment and the Ellis Island examination might well be supplemented by the requirement for individual case and family histories of the would-be immigrant, secured at the latter's expense, and in a manner satisfactory to the American consul who has been asked to visé the would-be immigrant's passport to America.
This Old World examination would thus not only serve to cut down greatly the number of would-be immigrants debarred under the present law, but would enable the United States to add to its list of requirements data on individual and family stock values, which would serve as a most satisfactory filtering of the immigration stream on the basis of the hereditary mental, physical, and moral quality of immigrants. Our present system of limiting examination to Ellis Island is like buying a pedigreed horse after examination for soundness, but in taking the pedigree "sight unseen.
See Series I, Appendix A, p. 1343, "An Experimental Individual and Family History Study Made of a Prospective Immigrant in Her Home Community."
The CHAIRMAN. Would Italy, for instance, permit the field worker to investigate case histories in Italy?
Doctor LAUGHLIN. Probably not willingly, but, because she needs the American market for her surplus labor, she would doubtless be glad to consent and cooperate. At present the Italian Government controls Italian emigration with an iron band. She practically selects the 42,000 emigrants who go to America each year under the present law. Italy, of course, selects these emigrants whom she believes will be admitted under the United States laws, but the American people who are asked to receive them can not go behind the face of the situation. No individual records or family histories are provided. Our decision to admit or to debar must be based upon our own responsibility for proving at Ellis Island the facts about the applying immigrant. It is our responsibility to debar, not Italy's to prove quality fitting for admission.
Italy, however, understands full well the value of pedigree study in connection with quality of public servants. She has, for instance, 64,000 carabinieri reali. These men are a sort of national police for Italy. They are an upstanding group of individuals, of fine character and thoroughly reliable. She selects them not only on the basis of personal examination, such as we might give at Ellis Island, but she goes behind that, secures the early history of the individuals, the records of the two parents and the four grandparents; thus with these additional family and individual history records, she rarely makes a mistake in selecting her carabinieri reali
. In case our laws required family history records, the immigration attaché, acting for an American consul, could not, if the country to which the consul is accredited objected, go into the home territory of the would-be immigrant and seek information, but the consul, who is well acquainted with affairs in his district, could require the would-be immigrant to bring reliable testimony and witnesses to the consular office, and could demand additional testimony until he satisfied himself that the witnesses were reputable and the testimony true and sufficient. Most countries, after once giving the immigrant a passport, as we have demonstrated, would not object to ordinary field study covering the families of the particular emigrants. If,
' however, objection should be made at first, and not later withdrawn, or if cooperation should be refused, the American consul would simply postpone the visé to the passport, until the desired cooperation in supplying the essential information were supplied by the would-be emigrant and his government. In a country like Italy which is overpopulated and which must export labor, this need would furnish the principal motive for ultimate cooperation. In an underpopulated country like Sweden, which desires to keep her men at home, the desire of the individual would-be emigrant to perfect plans for his emigration would be relied upon to secure the cooperation of his government.
The CHAIRMAN. Let me ask you this question: An American consul gives his visé to the passport of a prospective immigrant. Is it assumed, by that visé, to agree that the immigrant is properly admissible in the United States?
Doctor LAUGHLIN. That would be the logical purpose of the visé of an immigrant's passport, if the country granting the passport collaborated with the American consul and the emigrant in supplying
our consul with the facts which he needs, but it would be only the first sifting of the immigrant stream. Such a visé would presume probable admission, and definitely would entitle the emigrant to further examination at Ellis Island.
The CHAIRMAN. Therefore, does it not seem that the consul, if he is to give his visé to the passport of the prospective immigrant, should be entitled to know that the immigrant has at least the basic or primary qualifications that would entitle him to be admitted here?
Doctor LAUGHLIN. Yes, sir. That is the point. The visé presupposes adequate information, and grants or denies authority accord
The CHAIRMAN. Should the examination by the consul, with his facilities, which might be poor or good, be the final admitting act?
Doctor LAUGHLIN. No, sir. I think we have demonstrated in previous studies for this committee, on the subject of alien inmates in the custodial institutions of the United States, that one sifting of the immigrant stream at the port of entry in the United States is not sufficient to comply with American statutes. Our laws say that no person likely to become a public charge may enter the United States, yet when we take a census of the institutions for the socially inadequate we find there many thousands of aliens who, undetected in their basic qualities, have, in spite of our laws and examinations, entered our territories. We have not succeeded in keeping out those who actually have become public charges, contrary to both the letter and spirit of our law.
The point is that at the source of the stream, or in the consular districts from which the immigrants are coming, our consuls could get data of a basic nature, facts about individual history and family qualities, which are impossible to secure at Ellis Island. "In the home territories we could, if we wished to do so, make a first sifting of the immigrant stream, not only upon a racial or national basis--the quota does that—but principally upon a family stock basis, which would probably cut out a major portion of the defective and delinquent stream that insidiously is coming in. Besides the first sifting of the immigrant stream at the consular offices abroad, which I have just described, of course there would have to be a second sifting at Ellis Island, and then if we keep in touch with the immigrants in this country, as long as they are unnaturalized, there is the further sovereign right of the Government to deport aliens at any time, and also the present legal right, according to our own laws, to deport a socially inadequate immigrant within five years after his landing.
FAMILY STOCK VALUES AS SHOWN BY AN EXPERIMENTAL CASE
The CHAIRMAN. Please explain in still greater detail what is meant by and how the investigator would go about examining the immigrant on the family stock basis.
Doctor LAUGHLIN. In attacking this problem in the field I tried to find out how much information, of a basic biological nature, the American investigator, under the care of the consul, could secure about would-be immigrants, in case the consul were required by law to provide himself with certain fundamental facts before deciding to visé or not to visé the immigrant's passport to the United States. If
adequate facts of individual history and family stock could be secured, it would be possible for the consul to examine the record and to determine much more certainly than is done at present whether or not the individual would probably make a desirable American citizen, according to more severe biological standards which might be set by American laws. If the individual did not come up to that standard, according to the record, then the consul could decline to visé the passport, or if the facts were satisfactory, our consul could say, "I have investigated the individual history and the family, qualities of this particular applicant for immigration into the United States, and find, considering the nature of the standard set by the American immigration laws, it is probable that he and his near kin would make desirable citizens, and I will, therefore, visé his passport.” Under international law the visé of a passport is presumably based upon some knowledge, and it is not simply the clerical act of signing on a dotted line. Primarily, the consul's business is looking after all American interests, and just now his immigration duties involve great responsibility, because of the great variation in consequences which may result from different decisions in immigration matters.
As I stated to this committee several years ago, there are great numbers of aliens being maintained in American custodial institutions at American expense, whereas they should be maintained at the expense and responsibility of the particular nation and village which produced them. They represent individuals who have slipped
. through our several immigrant sortings.
Mr. DICKSTEIN. What is your conclusion or summing up of this matter, or what is your general view on the whole situation
Doctor LAUGHLIN. I desire to present the results of researches to show how studies could be made in Europe, under the authority of American consuls, for getting facts which would enable them more definitely to judge the prospective immigrants on the other side.
Mr. VAILE. As I understood it, he was trying to lay the groundwork for a questionnaire to be used in the examination of prospective immigrants.
Doctor LAUGHLIN. That is my immediate purpose. Permit me, therefore, to submit for the consideration of the committee a single personal and family history, which covers, in typical experimental fashion, the ground which probably would be required to be covered by law in case America were to enact a statute calling for examination of would-be immigrants in Europe. The record is too long to read at this time, but I desire to call attention to its principal features and to place it on the files of the committee. (See Series I, Appendix A, p. 1343.)
To determine the type of the examination which it is possible and practicable to make, without infringing upon the sovereignty of the country to which our consul is sent, we must actually make experimental case histories on this desired basis. The sample record in hand is of the actual case of “J-B
an actual would be immigrant to the United States who had secured the passport of her home country and was awaiting the visé of the American consul before setting sail.