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parative per cent of total deported, by race or people, fiscal years
COMMISSIONER GENERAL OF IMMIGRATION
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR,
Washington, June 30, 1928.
Secretary of Labor. Sir: In the introduction to the last annual report there were discussed in a general way the functions of the Bureau of Immigration and the immigration field service and the multitudinous problems with which they are called upon to deal. The year just closed did not differ essentially in these respects from the one preceding.
For the benefit of the uninitiated a brief outline of the functions of the Immigration Service may be of interest. Aliens naturally fall into two major classifications those who seek to enter and those who are already here. Those of the class first mentioned must apply at regularly designated immigration ports of entry and there be civilly and medically examined. These ports are distributed along our coasts and borders. Prior to 1921 when the first quota law was enacted or, perhaps more accurately, prior to 1924 when the last quota law was enacted, the great bulk of immigration poured through our seaports, and Ellis Island, New York Harbor, was the great portal -the gateway through which the immigrant entered the land of opportunity. The land border ports were of secondary importance. If the expressions "Ellis Island" and "Immigration” were not synonymous, one could hardly think of the one without thinking of the other. Ellis Island was the great outpost of the new and vigorous Republic. Ellis Island stood guard over the wide-flung portal. Ellis Island resounded for years to the tramp of an endless invading army. Its million or more immigrants a year taxed its resources to the utmost. It was the target of the demagogue, the sob-story writer, the notoriety seeker, and the occasional fault-finding busybody puffed up with conceit, who meekly submitted to every form of official surveillance in his own country, accepting the same as a matter of course, but felt it unbefitting his dignity on entering free America to conform without protest and criticism to reasonable and necessary immigration regulations. Ellis Island is freed of this inundating horde and largely freed of carping critics, but Ellis Island has lost its proud place in the general immigration scheme. Its million or more immigrants yearly have shrunk to several hundred thousand.
A great change has been taking place along our borders; steadily are they approaching a place of first importance in the scheme of things from an immigration standpoint. The fiscal year just closed witnessed a movement back and forth across these frontiers made up of citizens and aliens aggregating 53,000,000 entrants. Many of these, of course, were commuters, visitors, excursionists, etc. The tremendous impetus given to travel by the automobile and the opening of myriad new roads have been the chief contributing factors.
Immigration officers at interior points in the United States are concerned chiefly with the aliens in our midst. To these officers falls the duty of investigating and bringing about the deportation of undesirables. So greatly have the demands upon the resources of the service increased in each direction—that is to say, in the interior and along our borders—that it has been necessary largely to skeletonize the organization. This situation is portrayed in a measure in a letter hereinbelow quoted, addressed by the department to a certain person who has urged the enlargement of the inspection force at a relatively small station:
I have your letter of the 15th instant, concerning the situation along the Canadian border, and note your remarks as to the breaking down of the immigration organization by reason of inadequate personnel. The situation along the Canadian border, from a personnel standpoint, is one which has given me deep concern. No one could be more anxious than I am to have the personnel reinforced to a point that would insure the proper inspection of all arriving aliens in an orderly and expeditious manner. That the traveling public is entitled to this service goes without saying.
The situation at Trout River is not an isolated one, and the same or similar conditions prevail at numerous points along the entire Canadian border. Our officers in charge are almost driven desperate in their endeavors to stretch their personnel to provide some semblance, at least, of inspection at the various points. Of course, if Trout River were the only point where such conditions existed, it would be a very simple matter to take care of it. We are doing all that is humanly possible with the force available.
Travel by means of automobiles has grown by leaps and bounds. The tourist traffic across our northern border of residents of Canada, no less than residents of the United States, is assuming tremendous proportions. New highways are being continually built, or old ones improved, and nearly every community along the Canadian border is interested in the opening of such arteries of travel
. Travelers seriously protest against detouring even for a few miles in order to pass through the regular recognized inspection ports. The traffic is not confined to daylight hours, but continues on almost uninterruptedly through the night. The same situation is true of excursionists traveling by vessels. Cham. bers of commerce, tourist agencies, hotels, and transportation interests are all inviting people to travel, and so long as people are prosperous in this country and in Canada, and particularly in this country, they will respond to the lure of the open road and the big outdoors. It is estimated that nearly 50,000,000 people crossed our borders last year. This does not mean 50,000,000 different persons, but simply that counting each successive entry of the same individual as a separate transaction there were approximately 50,000,000 entrants. This figure, of course, embraces all classes-commuters, tourists, visitors, transits, and immigrants.
We foresee these needs in formulating our estimates and in making our representations in support thereof, but we can not prove a need in advance of its actual existence. In other words, it is not convincing to say what we anticipate; we are compelled to wait until the need materializes, and it is too late, generally, for relief to be afforded in that fiscal year. Then, too, there are the contingencies that can not be humanly foreseen, the discovery of unexpectedly large numbers of deportable aliens, or the apprehension of unusually large num. bers of aliens seeking clandestinely to enter. So closely do we figure in estimating our financial needs that by the time the funds become available they are more frequently than not found inadequate. It is almost impossible for the
Appropriations Committee and the Bureau of the Budget to keep pace with the ever changing and increasing demands, without granting a larger appropriation than is proven necessary at the time appropriations are determined upon. So far the bureau has not been granted sufficient money with which to take care of unusual and unforeseen emergencies. In short we are, generally speaking, anywhere from six months to a year behind the procession.
I might add in this connection that the problem of handling aliens arriving by air is coming on apace, so that in addition to our seaport and border control problems we are right now confronted with the problem of opening many new ports of entry for aliens arriving by aircraft.
The foregoing means one thing and one thing only; we have simply got to have the men or else we can not enforce the law.
Particular stress is laid on the fact-sought to be made clear in last year's report—that our immigration laws are designed primarily for the welfare not only of our citizens but of those aliens who have lawfully taken up their residence in our midst. Just as self-preservation is the first law of nature amongst individuals, so it is amongst nations. Our first concern, therefore, must be for those who are here; in short, for our own country. As said before
It is not nearly so cruel, if cruelty it be, to reject the ones who threaten our well-being, as it would be to subject those in our midst, who are healthy, happy, prosperous, and law-abiding, to the danger of unfair competition with its inevitable train of lowered living standards and other devitalizing processes. By every means within our power we strive, in seeking to effectuate the purposes of immigration legislation, to avoid as well the causing of unnecessary suffering. By every means the bureau is seeking to emphasize and to impress upon our officers the need of the employment-along with firmness-of kindness, courtesy, and consistent helpfulness in their every contact and relationship with the alien who seeks fair and honest means to come to or remain in this country.
Heretofore the enactment of legislation designed to permit members of families to be rejoined in the United States has been recommended. Happily, needful legislation along this line has been enacted, but in dealing with the alien husbands of American women exemption from quota limitations has been confined to cases where the marriage occurred prior to June 1, 1928. No such limitation is imposed upon the alien wives of American men. American women are entitled to no less consideration in this respect than American men.
The operative date of the so-called national-origin plan of quota limitations upon immigration was, by resolution of Congress at the last session, again postponed for a year.
The problems and difficulties which theretofore attended the enforcement of the immigration act as a whole, and the provisions of the immigration act of 1924 in particular, dealing with the exclusion of aliens ineligible to citizenship, so far as American Indians born in Canada are concerned, were disposed of April 2, 1928, by congressional enactment recognizing the right of such aliens to pass the borders of the United States.
As in the preceding year, the outstanding accomplishment of the Immigration Service during the fiscal year just closed is the increase in the number of aliens, found to be therein unlawfully, who were removed from the United States. This is dealt with in more or less detail elsewhere in this report under the caption “Deportations” (expulsions).