Immigration Archives - The Protection of Immigrant Women
BY FRANCES A. KELLOR
IN a preceding article I attempted to show the growing economic and social value of immigrant women, and that they are not always to be found in domestic service. There are two great risks incurred by the immigrant who starts from her native shore. First, can she reach her home and place of labor in this country in safety ? Second, has she a prospect of fair living and working conditions after arrival ? I shall attempt here to answer the first question by showing some of the risks incident to the journey to, and settlement in this country, and by indicating especial protection that is needed.
The dangers for which America is responsible begin on the other side. What seems a simple journey may be filled with hardships. Considering the many disadvantages and dangers, it is remarkable how many come through safely and become honest hard-working women, and law-abiding citizens. The loyalty and self-sacrifice among those already here who help them to come are almost incredible unless really witnessed. Especially in view of the little help that is given by Americans, it is a remarkable tribute to human character that so many win out in the hard struggle.
While Americans are willing to provide labor, and to support philanthropies which help the immigrant in time of distress, there are many times when no friendly hand is held out except that of the ignorant or inexperienced immigrant who has just arrived or who is trying to make his own way among strangers and new conditions.
Let us follow the journey from Antwerp to New York and see what these typical dangers are, and how they may be avoided. First come enthusiastic letters
from friends or relatives in their first days of wonder in the new city, when they are fired with the enthusiasm and vitality of the new life. The sweat shop, the tenement, the low wages, and hundreds of ways of exploitation have not yet been learned.
To what extent does our government undertake to see that this enthusiastic immigrant who writes others to come has correct views and information to send them ? Once released from Ellis Island, its chief interest is to deport her if she subsequently violates the immigration law. Both state and nation permit her to get information and experience as best she can. Are the laws she needs to know, opportunities for labor, wages, directions in case of need, rights, educational opportunities and requirements for citizenship printed in concise form and placed in her hands in a language she can understand ? By no means.
What is to counteract the information given by employment agents, "notary publics," steamship ticket agents, and some of the political leaders among "her own people," who see in increased numbers an increased profit to themselves ? When resident immigrants are left so utterly in such hands for their ideas of American life and laws, they are frequently made the unsuspecting tools of employment agents and unauthorized peddlers of steamship tickets, and others who urge that friends and relatives be brought over, and who advance or help them borrow the money to send, but assume no responsibility after arrival.
Sometimes the employment agent offers honest work, sometimes not. The young procurer for dens of immorality lives in the crowded tenements, and he too urges that she come, and offers to marry her or to find her work. These arc but illustrations of the way in which well-meaning persons here play into the hands of those who wish to exploit the immigrant girl. Thus her future is sold or heavily mortgaged even before she starts.
But she does not always wait for such letters from her friends and relatives. Some enterprising broker gets her name and address and sends her one of the thousands of copies of papers printed in this country in her language, which contains a romantic talc of the wages, liberty, and good times in America, and how the young people And prosperous husbands and live in plenty. It is not dry reading; to her it is a live thrilling tale, and it tells only what she can get, not what she must give, or what the requirements are.
Once here, one of the great difficulties is that she has started on misleading information. She has false ideas of freedom, wages, prosperity, and good times, and discontent begins. Is the newspaper romance a true picture ? Can she get all that is promised ? It is evident that the first step in protection must begin in America and must give honest information about America.
Our immigration law is explicit in prohibiting steamship agents from advertising or stimulating emigration abroad, but says nothing as to the many publications printed here in foreign languages and sent abroad. It is said that some of the steamship companies back these papers by expending huge sums in circulating them abroad.
Their influence is wide, for in every community where one is sent it goes from family to family. Does the government know the number of such publications, what they contain, and in whose interest they are published ? Is it in no wise interested in the kind of information with which its future citizens start ?
The immigrant girl is now stirred by the letters and stories to the point of leaving. But she has not enough money. So that is borrowed in America and entrusted to a "banker." But the promised sum may fail to arrive. What has happened ? Just this. In America, the cities are infested with small unauthorized banker-steamship-ticket brokers, who are allowed to take the deposits of immigrants without giving a bond or having any financial responsibility.
Her little sum has fallen into the hands of such a banker, and he has not sent the money, though he has repeatedly told the sender that he has done so. After several such transactions, he moves to another part of the city, assumes a new name, and proceeds to rob others.
Why does not the immigrant select one of the hundreds of reliable bankers ? Why does not some one inform her who they are ? Why does not the state protect her from robbery ? Why does not the immigrant who sends the money prosecute the banker for so simple a fraud ? With his witness in Russia or Hungary, how can he prove that the money was not sent and lost ? Can he afford the loss of several days' work, to say nothing of lawyer's fees and car-fares, in order to recover thirty dollars or forty dollars, often representing his entire savings, which he has sent to the waiting girl ?
But suppose he is cautious and thinks it safer to see the ticket and send it himself. The same banker is quite willing to accommodate him, and if he has not enough money, offers him a ticket on the installment plan. Sometimes, when the immigrant here has no intention of sending for friends, these peddlers pursue him in his home and place of business with offers of tickets on such easy payments that he buys them.
Fradulent Tickets Sold To Immigrants
The installment ticket is sold for from five to fifteen dollars above the market rate to cover the risk, although most immigrants are required to give a guarantee and are sometimes charged interest on the unpaid balance 1 On a ticket costing thirty-three dollars, he pays ten dollars down and one to two dollars per week, with the express understanding that the girl on the other side is to have the ticket at once. Fully one-third of the prepaid third-class tickets are sold to immigrants in American cities on the installment plan.
But this "ticket " is only an order — it mentions no steamship line and in many cases is not even signed by the broker who sells it. It is a bogus piece of paper until the broker sends its price to his cooperating foreign office. In the mean time, the girl has received this bogus order, sold out everything, leaves her home and arrives in Antwerp ready to sail. She goes to the ticket office and is told that her "ticket is no good "us no money has been received.
The foreign police know these tickets so well that they often tell the immigrants before they reach the office that they have been duped. Of course the order is no good ! Some of these unauthorized, irresponsible agents sell as many as one hundred tickets a week. They have no capital. How can they send over $3300 for tickets when they have received only $1000 on installment?
Imagine the girl's plight with all ties cut behind her, with not enough money to sail or to return. Stranded, she must endure the long delay of writing to her friends here, and of awaiting a reply from this side. The purchaser is put off from time to time until the agent disappears. Here is one story of what happens in the mean time and is a typical hardship: —
"I bought a ticket for passage from Antwerp to New York for the stun of forty-five dollars, by paying ten dollars down and two dollars each week thereafter until the full sum of forty-five dollars was paid. At the time I paid the ten dollars down, I received an advice or order which I sent to my sister in Russia, who, immediately upon the receipt of same, started for Antwerp, and when she presented the said advice or order she was told the same was no good, and that it would not be honored.
My sister was stranded in Antwerp and was obliged to beg. As soon as I learned about the above-mentioned facts, I went to the company, and they told me that I must pay an additional ten dollars to have the original advice or order given to me stopped, and for them to give another order or advice.
I did receive the second order or advice and sent the same to my sister, but while waiting in Antwerp for the ticket to come to New York, she was arrested for begging, and when the second advice or order arrived, the police told her that it was not good. The said sister was compelled to stay in prison for several days, and after she was released she again begged and nearly starved for eight months until I sent her another ticket to come to New York. She is in New York at the present time.
As soon as I learned that the second order or advice was no good, I went to the office of the company, but found the office closed, and I have never been able to find them. nor have I been able to have refunded the money which I paid to them for the first order or advice, nor the additional tea dollars which I gave for the second order, nor have I ever been able to receive the steamship ticket for passage from Antwerp to New York."
The evils of such frauds are two-fold. They imperil the girl's morality and entire future. There are many cases where local charities have had to send the girls back to Russia or Hungary from Antwerp, because there was no more money; or where families have been separated, there being enough money to bring only part of them over. Second, they lower the standard of living of the immigrants here, who save and sacrifice only to be robbed.
One man slaved for three years and nearly starved himself to save $160 to bring over his children, and lost it through such an agent. The family is still separated. In the past three years, it is estimated that over $500,000 has been wasted through dishonest agents in New York city alone. and many thousands of dollars of losses are never reported. And these sums vary from the servant girl's savings of two dollars a week sent to a friend to come over on, to $500 — the savings of years.
The protection offered is meagre. Massachusetts has a law requiring a fifteen thousand dollar bond of bankers who sell steamship tickets, but no steamship ticket regulations. New York, as the result of investigations made by the Research Department of the Woman's Municipal League and Welfare Committee of the National Civic Federation, has two laws which went into effect September 1, 1907.
One provides for a fifteen thousand dollar bond for bankers, and the other prohibits the sale of unauthorized tickets not binding on the steamship companies. Up to this time no adequate protection whatever had been afforded the immigrant. The other ports and the great industrial cities like Pittsburg and Chicago, where large numbers of tickets arc sold, have no regulations and there is no federal protection.
The immigrant, if she can meet these hardships or escape them, is now safely aboard ship. Has our government any matrons or inspectors who make it impossible for the procurer, who wishes to travel steerage or second cabin for the purpose of meeting her, to accomplish his purpose ? Is she safeguarded so carefully that members of the ship's crew cannot mislead her ? There is so little supervision that evilly disposed persons find it profitable to make her acquaintance in the steerage.
Their knowledge of her home and language, combined with their wonderful stories of America, cement the friendship, and when she lands, her new-found friend is her adviser. The conditions on shipboard are inexcusably negligent, and the government has long been urged to provide matrons and inspectors.
It is unfair and unreasonable to expect the immigrant girl traveling under such conditions to resist the evil of a great city, so long as the main idea of the government is not to protect but to deport- It is hard to find a reason for such criminal negligence when so simple a method can be tried, and when the government has so ample a fund, made up of the hed-tnx paid by the immigrants for the privilege of coming here.
The Single Immigrant Woman at Ellis Island
Once at Ellis Island, the greatest care is taken to protect her. She can be released only when the government is satisfied that the persons who claim her are really the ones to whom she is coming.
If it is a male relative, even a brother, he must be accompanied by his wife if married, or give satisfactory assurance that she is to live with a woman, before she is released. If it is her intended husband who claims her, the commissioner may require that they be married there. Where the girl has no relatives or friends, the missionaries representing the various churches and immigrant societies take her in charge, house her, find her work, and take a friendly interest in her.
If they did not she would frequently have to make the long journey back. This is a splendid, necessary work, efficiently organized at Ellis Island, and having the sympathetic interest of Commissioner Watchorn. But it is by no means so effective and systematic at all of the other ports, where there are fewer immigrants, but where the individual dangers are also great.
It is not a system of protection equally applicable to all ports, and fostered by the government, but depends entirely on the amount of interest and support that each nationality can obtain from its own, or from religious organizations. Therefore some immigrants are better protected than others.
When no precautions are taken on board ships, these well-meaning immigrant homes may find their work useless. I have in mind four girls who were instructed to go to an immigrant home, accept positions, and then send their address to the young procurer who induced them to come here. This they did.
But many do not stop in New York and so do not come under this good influence. Suppose the girl has a through ticket to Chicago. The responsibility of the government ends when she is safely on the train, and the railway is not held responsible for her safe arrival.
Suppose she loses her address, or the street number is wrong, or her friends fail to meet her, or have moved, or any one of fifty things that may break the connection has happened ? Suppose a procurer meets her on the train (as they do) and she is induced to go with him ? Her friends and relatives are anxiously awaiting her, and the government is not aware that she is lost. How long will it be before both begin to look for her together ?
At present nothing is done by the state or federal government to meet this great defect. The states do not know who arc coming into them to live, or under what conditions. They make no effort to get into touch with them or help them to become citizens.
What so simple as for each state to have its department or bureau, and receive from the federal government the names and addresses of all immigrants coming in, and to visit them and make an effort to make them into citizens ? How else can the compulsory education law be enforced, when there are hundreds of children coming in who are never on the school roll and cannot be traced ? How else can the child-labor laws be enforced, when children slip from the station to the factory and arc reported above the age which they may look to be ?
The ship manifest, with the ages, would enlighten many duped inspectors if the state had it from the federal ports. Such bureaus could also cooperate with other states and notify them of removals.
The Problem in Protecting Immigrant Women
This defect in the protection of women is so fraught with moral dangers that Commissioner Watchorn has given it special attention. Upon his recommendation an agent has been appointed at Ellis Island. A group of representative organizations at various large distributing points have been interested by the Inter-Municipal Research Committee, and the experiment is being tried of having friendly visitors meet these young women on arrival, or immediately afterward in their hom, and help them to find work, good lodgings, night schools, or whatever they most need, and to give them a fair chance.
The system of distribution and protection of women in transit is being studied with a view to recommending that a state and national protective policy be adopted. The great number of arriving immigrant girls makes it impossible that this should
be continued effectively by philanthropy alone. The maintenance of friendly visitors who can speak their language and go to their homes in each of the great cities is a tremendous expense — to say nothing of the expense involved in giving them the immediate assistance they frequently need.
A part of this protection should fall upon the railways. Matrons at the stations and on the immigrant trains, to protect and look after the comfort of women and children and to safeguard young girls, are an essential part of an adequate system of protection.
But what of the many thousands who come to New York city ? The real danger begins when the girl lands at the Battery. The hangers-on there grab her baggage and try to get her to go with them. The missionaries sometimes have great difficulty in getting the girl to their homes, as these hangers-on speak her language and try to warn her against her new-found friends. If this fails, they may follow her, get her address, and visit her later. The government has tried to break up the robbery and graft which goes on at the Battery, but it has no authority in the city, and thus far has not succeeded.
What Happens After The Immigrant Women Leaves Ellis Island
There has been no body of information showing what happens to the immigrant woman after she leaves Ellis Island for her destination in the city. Four things the Inter-Municipal Research Committee deemed it essential to learn: how and where she lives; whether she needs work, and how she obtains it; whether she is illiterate, and what are her chances for learning English; and, lastly, her amusements.
Through the cooperation of the Commissioners of Immigration, the following programme was followed in four cities: Lists of the arriving girls were obtained, giving the nationality, age, date of arrival, and name and address of the person to whom they are released.
No girls released to immigrant homes or charitable institutions were visited, but only girls normally released to friends. relatives, or strangers, and who had to take up the struggle for existence in the city.
Each girl was then visited at her home by a woman who spoke her language and was of her religion, and the following information was obtained: living conditions, including kind of house, number of rooms, number in family, number of lodgers, cleanliness and sanitation, sleeping accommodations, rate of lodging, kind of lodging; object in coming; whether ticket was purchased here and by whom; employment abroad and wages; present employment, including the kind, place, wages, hours; whether steady work, how obtained, and whether night work is done; and a general statement of conditions not included in the above.
When the first visit to her home was made, if the girl was found to need help of any kind one of two things was done. Preferably, wherever possible, the organization, institution, or person already doing such work was asked to help the girl and to report results. Where there was no such existing group or person, aid was given directly, or new individuals were interested in being friendly to the girl.
At first it was intended merely to study conditions, but so many girls were found needing work, lodging, help, and protection, that the friendly work was undertaken in connection with it.
Up to the present time, this study has been carried on in the various cities through the representative organizations of the Inter-Municipal Research Committee and other cooperating organ as the Research Department of the Woman's Educational and Industrial Union in Boston, Research and Protective Association in Philadelphia, Woman's Trade-Union League in Chicago, and the Council of Jewish Women, who have also made similar studies in other cities not included here.
Six thousand five hundred and fifty girls have been visited, in some cases many times, and the conditions were learned as carefully as possible. The details of the study cannot be given here, but it proves beyond all doubt that a system of protection and assistance is needed for immigrant women, and that it should extend over the first three years of their residence.
The very least this can include is: —
(1) Housing. —
These girls should be furnished with information in their own language about housing, boarding-houses, cost of living, transportation facilities, etc. As a result of the study above detailed it has been possible to change many of them to better lodgings, for the same money they were formerly paying.
For instance, in four rooms, living with a family of five, were six boarders, four of whom were men. Some of the girls had no prepared food whatever, eating cold things they bought, when close by was a countrywoman of theirs willing to cook food for them if they lodged with her.
New York City is the most dangerous city in the country in the matter of housing green immigrant women, for its vice is not chiefly in one section, as in Chicago, but nearly every street is honeycombed with it; and next to the respectable tenement or apartment may be found a den of immorality. The danger is a hundred-fold greater because the girl thinks she is safe; in reality the need for protection in choosing her home is very great.
The question has often been asked, Would immigrant girls live in hotels and clubs if provided ? The question can safely be answered in the affirmative, provided that religion and red tape are omitted, and a woman who speaks their language and understands their customs, needs, habits, and traditions, is at the head of the house and surrounds it with the atmosphere they need.
If a number of women could be engaged to go into the immigrant neighborhoods and run small boarding-houses, — not big institutions, but small homes, — with the backing of some one financially interested, it would be a great thing for the girls and for the neighborhood. Few of their lodgings have any place for recreation or reedy. ing company, or are anything more than mere places to eat and sleep. A number of girls were interviewed with the idea of ascertaining their attitude toward such boarding-houses. The following are typical answers.
Sales-girl, wages $6, lives with step. mother who often refuses to cook for her. Her father would be glad to have her make more room for them if the board was not over $2.50.
Another, salary $6, is willing to pay $3 for board; is boarding in crowded quarters. Would welcome a boardinghouse of this kind.
Another lodges with relatives, buys her own food, which they cook. Tried boarding, but food was poor, accommodations bad, and service irregular. Costs her $2.50 a week and would be glad to spend more but cannot find a place.
(2) Employment. --
This is a matter of adjustment as well as of finding work. During the investigation, it was possible to acquaint many girls with other lines of work and find them better-paying positions. If the immigrant girl comes to a family that does sweat-shop work, she naturally falls into it, though she may be better fitted for other work.
At least one-quarter of the girls visited never did any work for pay at home. Here they undertake to do things they know little about, and accept low wages because they do not know what it costs to live. They work over-time; submit to illegal and unfair docking of wages; are the most pitiable victims of the "learner system," whereby they are hired at a dollar or two a week while learning, and are then discharged, and go to another employer "who will learn them."
Some spend their first year or two learning. They are in debt when they arrive, and they are among the worst violators of child-labor and compulsory-education and factory laws, Why ? Because neither the state nor any one else thinks it worth while to inform them of their rights, and because the people whom they know and with whom they live often do not know them any better. Progress is immeasurably retarded by this short-sighted policy!
(3) Education. —
The one great necessity and desire is to learn English. The majority of those visited, though they had been here several months, had never heard of evening classes. Where they had heard of them they frequently had no one to show them the way to the school and were timid. Even when they begin, the methods used are frequently so unsuited to their needs that they soon get discouraged or drop out.
Some schools assume that because they need baby methods in English, they need it in all else, which is a great mistake. By their lack of English they are hampered in getting better-paying work. Oftentimes the families with whom they live discourage it, saying, "Reading and writing are not needed to marry on."
The settlements and philanthropies cannot meet this need alone. The night schools have no truant officers for adults. How shall the immigrant know her need and how to satisfy it and how to demand adequate facilities ? Only the citizens who see the future of the state and country recognize the responsibility. Will they help meet it ?
(4) Recreation and Amusements.
The immigrant girl does not in many cases get any facilities for recreation, and rarely such as she needs. She goes to the dance-hall because it is often the only place of amusement within reach where she can find her own people and her own dances. She does not prefer them at the back of saloons.
But she is not a reformer — and she goes just because she finds them there. What else is she offered ? Playgrounds and parks there are indeed, but how is she to find them ? H others tell her, she often lives too far away to go. Have you ever heard the wonderment and joy in a green immigrant girl's voice, who has been immersed daily for months in our tenement and industrial system, when she sees Central Park ?
"Trees, here!" she exclaims, and with tears in eyes and voice, "just like home!" It is not more Coney Islands and "merry-go-rounds" that are needed, but time, —shorter hours, so that the girls can get into the country; and excursions to give them something of home; and native folk-dances in place of our meaningless American dances.
Even philanthropies provide but little reasonable recreation, and playgrounds and gymnasia are overtaxed. It is one of the crying shames that we expect women, who come here directly after enjoying the freedom of the soil or of the small villages, to be crowded into tenements, to work eight to fourteen hours daily, and for whom no adequate decent amusement places are provided, to stand the moral strain.
With what wisdom has Hull House installed its own five-cent theatre and dances open to any one from the street! The only way to lessen the attraction of the dance-hall is to compete with it. How eagerly the girls grasped the offer of the friendly visitors for a free concert! If they could only be directed to what does really exist! but much of it is in English and seems so far away to them. What seems such a small service of the friendly visitor sometimes changes a whole life. One difficulty- is to get support for such small service. In this age every one wants to give or do big things which do not always accomplish the purpose.
But even when immigrant girls are well housed and cared for on arrival — it may all change tomorrow. The people to whom they come may not be well established, or capable of sound advice, or able to help them. A young girl came to an aunt who was her only relative. A few weeks after, the aunt was taken to the hospital, and, when the friendly visitor found her, the girl was entirely alone and unknown.
The relative may die, the job may be lost, the family be evicted, or the girl may be ill. In the study above outlined a central bureau was established and many girls who were all right when first visited came to it later when in trouble. They had made an intelligent, powerful, friendly connection, which brought them into a life larger than that of their own family and group, often too handicapped to help them. And so little is needed if it is the right thing !
It is not the intention to underpraise any of the good work done by the splendid organizations that are working in an unselfish way. It is rather to emphasize the need of state and federal protection, and to urge the necessity for a system of protection which will get hold of the immigrant as soon as she arrives, and educate and advise and help her.
The protection of immigrant women is the business of a people, not of racial philanthropies; of a state, not of a corporation; and of mankind, not of a few individuals. This appeal for a governmental system of protection is not for dependents or for those needing charity not for rescue work, for most immigrants do not need this upon arrival, but for the average normal healthy immigrant who wants to work and to become a citizen.
Under a philanthropic system, immigrants do not have equal opportunities. Look at the splendid institutions for the Jews. What have the Poles to compare with it ? Where is there an Educational Alliance which so fits the children of other races to enter the public schools ? What government other than the Italian gives sums for schools in labor camps? Do not the Hungarians need it ? Neither is the work uniform.
The educational facilities in New York may be good, for money can be more easily obtained; but is it true of the immigrant in Buffalo, or of those out at work on the road ? Not If immigrants are to have equal opportunities and facilities and become equally good citizens, our states must awaken to their responsibility and provide protection equally for all.
It is good to know that the past year has been one of the most hopeful the immigrants have ever seen, in this increasing sense of protection.
The new immigration law provides that any person who "shall directly or indirectly import or attempt to import into the United States any alien woman or girl for purposes of prostitution or any other immoral purpose, or whoever shall hold or attempt to hold any alien woman or girl for any such purpose, in pursuance of any such illegal importation, or whoever shall keep, maintain, control, support in any house or other place, for the purposes of prostitution or for any other immoral purpose, any alien woman or girl within three years after she shall have entered the United States, shall be guilty of a felony and be imprisoned not more than five years, and pay a fine of not more than 85000."
Unfortunately the government does not realize the power of the strongly in-trenched syndicate, with its many agents abroad and distributed in the various cities, with large financial backing, which imports immigrant girls and sells them from city to city, and has not provided adequate machinery to reach this all-powerful combine.
The new immigration law has also provided for a bureau of information which it is hoped will consider the subject of the education and labor of women. It has also created a commission which there is reason to hope will conduct investigations with a view to the further protection of women, and will perhaps recommend some such national system of protection as has been outlined and is now being tried by a group of philanthropies.
Through the efforts of the Inter-Municipal Research Committee and Federation of Women's Clubs, New Jersey has a new employment-agency law protecting contract laborers and immigrant women, and the Research and Protective Association of Philadelphia has obtained a new employment-agency law for Pennsylvania, with the same features. How soon will the United States consider it worth while to prevent inter-state abuses in the finding of employment and interstate traffic in women, by passing a federal law ?
New York has tried an employment-agency law enforced by the municipalities, and the conditions under its inadequate enforcement furnish a most striking comment upon the need of state and national protection.
New Jersey and Pennsylvania lead in the educational line. Governor Stokes of the former state appointed an immigration commission that obtained the passage of a law providing for night schools for adult foreigners, and Pennsylvania passed a law empowering local boards of education to establish schools in labor camps for foreigners.
New York passed a banking and steamship-ticket law, previously referred to; a midwives bill putting all midwives under control of the Board of Health, thus protecting the health of immigrant women and children. An investigation by the Association of Neighborhood Workers showed that ninety-five per cent of these midwives were foreigners.
New York also passed the Cobb marriage bill, aimed at fake marriages practiced among immigrant women for the purpose of getting them into lives of shame. New York also increased the appropriation for distributing immigrants in the state through the Department of Agriculture.
This is only a part of the record of 1907. These new laws are typical of the signs of the times, and lead us to hope that this year may see further legislation for the protection of immigrants.
Back of all of this legislation for protection are groups of citizens and individuals who have gathered the facts and created a public sentiment for the protection of immigrants. This legislation marks but the beginning. To those who think that much has been accomplished, the following suggestions for further work show the field more clearly.
There is a crying need for the publica- tion in the simplest terms of the laws and ordinances vitally affecting daily living -- as labor laws, tenement-house regulations, fire regulations, health laws, etc. Ask an immigrant what she wants to read and she invariably replies, "Something about America in my language."
A Polish woman was arrested in a New Jersey town and fined two dollars and a half for putting ashes in the street. When she found out what her offense was she was amazed, because in her country the law required that she should put the ashes there to make good roads!
Schools for teaching English and simple American civics are needed in the smaller towns and factory towns, and better systems of instruction in the cities.
The establishment of state departments or commissions of immigration, which shall primarily protect, educate, and distribute the immigrants within the state and not merely seek laborers, is worth considering. These should cooperate with the federal government and take up the work where it lays it down — when the foreigner becomes a resident of the state.
Extension of free loan associations, neighborhood lodging-houses, friendly visiting of newly-arrived foreigners, and other movements that will bring the immigrant into relation with persons who know the standards and opportunities and ways of American city life.
Establishment of a federal system of protection of immigrants in transit and until they really reach their destination, and of compulsory railway protection.
Enforcement (and adequate machinery for the purpose) of the few laws which specifically protect immigrants.
The next decade can be profitably spent by those interested in the immigrant in working out a system. of protection to meet the system of exploitation, and this will in a measure explain if not meet many of the "problems of immigration?'
ATLANTIC MONTHLY - A MAGAZINE OF Literature, Science, art, and Politics. VOLUME CI, FEBRUARY, 1908