The Investigations of 1893 Into Immigration Law
Notwithstanding the new law, however, the question of immigration continued to receive attention in Congress, and was extensively agitated throughout the country, a strong movement for restriction being developed, owing to the industrial depression, 18g0-18g6, and the general curtailment of employment.
Extensive investigations were also conducted by joint cominittees of Congress and by the Industrial Commission, but with the exception of an amendment to an appropriation act in 1894, raising the head tax on immigrants from 50 cents to $1.00, no immigration legislation was enacted until 1903.
The agitation of the subject in Congress continued, however, and the period is interesting chiefly because of the adoption by both houses of Congress of a bill providing for an educational test for immigrants and the veto of the bill by President Cleveland.
The final report of the Industrial Commission, containing recommendations relative to immigration legislation, was submitted to Congress on February 20, 1902, and shortly afterward a bilt was introduced in the House which was substantially in accord with the recommendations made.
The principal object of the bill was to codify in concise form all immigration legislation before enacted, from the act of March 3, 1875, to the act of 1894, and to arrange the legislation in regular order and sequence according to the specific subjects dealt with in the bill.
When the Industrial Commission bill was before the House, an amendment was added providing for the exclusion of all persons over 15 who were unable to read the English language or some other language, excepting the wives, children under 18 years of age, and parents and grandparents of admissible immigrants.
Immigration Amendment Adopted
This amendment was adopted in the House by a vote of 86 to 7, and the bill thus amended passed the House on May 27, 1902.
The Senate did not act upon it until the following session. Besides eliminating the educational test, and raising the head tax from $1 to $2, the Senate added provisions making it unlawful for any person to assist in the unlawful entry or naturalization of alien anarchists.
These amendments were accepted by the House. Before the final passage of the bill a provision was added providing that no alien, even if belonging in the excluded classes, should be deported if liable to execution for a religious offense in the country from which he came, but this provision was eliminated in conference.
The bill was approved by the President, March 3, 1903. From the act of March 3, 1903, until the act of February 20, 1907, no laws of general importance affecting immigration were enacted by Congress.
Department of Commerce and Labor Established
On February 14, 1903, the Department of Commerce and Labor was established, and the Commissioner General of Immigration was placed under the jurisdiction and supervision of that department.
By the law of June 29, 1906, providing for a uniform rule for the naturalization of aliens, the designation of the Bureau of Immigration was changed to the "Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization," and it was charged with the administration of the new naturalization law.
Jeremiah W. Jenks, Ph.D., LL.D. and W. Jett Lauck, A.B., "The Investigations of 1893" In The Immigration Problem, New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1912, P. 308-309.