In the early days of the Republic immigrants still kept
coming, and helped build up the nation to power. But progress was so slow
and the country so vast that when sixty years ago immigration began on a
larger scale, the greater part of the land was still uninhabited. In 1850
it was the Germans and Irish who crowded to our welcoming shores in great
numbers. They soon became friends and Americans, and in 1861 again proved
human brotherhood, for in our second great war, for union and freedom of
the negro slaves, they fought as bravely as if they had been brothers of
one blood. And Jews were among them, serving the nation.
The Irish and Germans of those days came to us as poor
as the Russian Jews, the Italians or the Greeks of to-day. Like these,
too, they began to make their living humbly by hard and honest work. They
have forgotten the poverty, unhappiness and oppression that drove them
away from the old world. They have prospered, and they are now all
Americans. They have all had their defects because they are human beings,
but they have still had qualities that have helped make this country great
and respected throughout the world.
And so to-day America gives the Jew refuge from
persecution. She welcomes him gladly, for she knows his love of justice
and righteousness. With her all men are equal, and she gives him the same
rights and the same opportunities that immigrants in the past have found
precious. Newcomers thus have many privileges. They may travel and live
and buy and sell where they will. They pay no tax to religion, but support
their own temples and churches voluntarily, as they should. They have the
right of peace and the protection of the law. In return for all this,
America asks only that they obey the law and do no wrong. If they are
willing to make homes here for themselves and their families, America asks
them to take citizenship and become Americans, too--members of this great
family of the nation.
ENTERING THE COUNTRY AND THE LAW ON IMMIGRATION
The immigrant coming into the United States is obliged to submit to a very
strict examination by various officials and doctors, to ascertain whether
his coming is in accordance with the provisions of the law. In case of
misunderstanding due to the fact that he does not understand English, and
knows nothing of American laws, the immigrant will find it to his
advantage to ask assistance and advice from the agents of the Hebrew
Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society, which gives free assistance to
immigrants immediately upon their arrival at Ellis Island. Several of the
Society's agents are always there, and wear the words "Yiddish Committee"
embroidered on their caps. The immigrant who needs assistance from these
agents should hold in his hand or have pinned upon his coat, so that it
can clearly be seen, the card of identification which has been given out
by the ship's doctor or by an officer aboard the steamer. The agent will
come to meet the immigrants and, when necessary, will act as their
interpreter in the examination that is necessary before admission. There
is a Kosher kitchen at Ellis Island.
The immigrants who have been admitted, but who have neither relatives nor
friends to receive them, are taken by these same agents to the office of
the Society. Here they will receive all the information of which they have
need, and will be accompanied, together with their baggage, either to
their respective destinations in other parts of the city, or to the
railway station to continue their journey. The agents who undertake this
duty are entirely worthy of confidence, and their services are rendered
freely, without any charge whatever.
No one is allowed to enter the United States who has been induced or
invited to emigrate by promises or offers of work or who has made a
contract either verbal or written, implicit or explicit, by which he is
guaranteed work of any kind. Those also are excluded who have been
deported for such reason any time during the year preceding their arrival.
The American law also excludes those who come with tickets that have been
paid for either directly or indirectly by Societies, Associations,
Municipalities, or Foreign States. But the law which forbids the entrance
to persons who have come under promise or contract of labor is not applied
to those belonging to professional classes of which it is impossible to
find unemployed members in the United States. Nor does it apply to those
who are actors, artists, public speakers, singers, priests of all
religions, professors of colleges or seminaries, members of the learned
professions, servants, waiters, and cooks.
The United States law excludes foreigners who are idiots, imbeciles,
weak-minded persons, epileptics, lunatics, and those who have suffered
lunacy during the five years preceding their arrival, persons who have had
two or more attacks of lunacy at any time, preceding, paupers, those who
do not appear equal to support themselves and are liable to become a
public charge, professional beggars, persons afflicted with tuberculosis
and contagious diseases, as well as those who, though not included in the
above mentioned classes, shall be judged by the doctor who examines them
as deficient mentally or physically, or unable to earn the necessities of
life. Polygamists, anarchists, prostitutes, and those guilty of crime
involving moral turpitude are also excluded from the United States.
The children who are minors and the wife of a man who has only taken out
his first paper, if found to be afflicted with contagious disease, have
the right to ask that their deportation be deferred until it is
ascertained that their disease is incurable. If it can be proved that it
is curable, they will be at once permitted to disembark.
Persons of either sex under sixteen years of age are excluded unless
accompanied by a parent.
The Secretary of Commerce and Labor has the power to admit to the United
States under bond a foreigner who has been excluded because he is a
cripple or physically weak, provided he be not afflicted with tuberculosis
or any contagious disease. Any foreigner who, within a period of three
years from the day of his arrival, shall be found in the United States in
violation of the immigration law, and who might be included in one of the
classes of the excluded immigrants, can be arrested and deported.
The provisions of the American law on immigration apply to all foreigners
arriving in a port of the United States, no matter in what class they may
have travelled in crossing the ocean.