New Steerage Regulations - 1907
SECTION 42 OF THE IMMIGRATION ACT
The effect of Section 42 of the new Immigration Act which has just passed both branches of Congress is an increase after Jan. 1, 1909, by nearly 25 percent in the minimum space allowed for each steerage passenger on ocean steamers coming from Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and South America.
On the decks where steerage passengers are mainly carried the law of 1882 requires that there shall be 100 cubic feet of space for each passenger. As the height between decks is usually about 7 feet, the deck or floor space allowed is thus 14.1 sq. ft.
The British law of 1894 requires 15 sq. ft. on the deck, and the new immigration law increases this area to 18 sq. ft. The legislation in effect follows the developments in modem ocean steamship building.
In 1882 when our present law was passed the Servia, 7,392 gross tons, was the crack trans-Atlantic liner. Ten years ago the Lucania, 12,952 gross tons, was the largest ocean steamship, and there were only 10 ocean steamships of over 10,000 gross tons.
Recently the two new Cunarders of 32,000 gross tons each have been launched and there are now 102 steamships over 10,000 gross tons each, the majority of which are engaged in the immigrant business to the United States.
Many of these large steamers and some of less tonnage already provide accommodations as ample as the minimum prescribed by the new act. 1hus during the past fiscal year 175 steamships brought steerage passengers into the port of New York.
The maximum number, which they were all allowed to carry (one trip each), was 254,712. The maximum number, which these same steamers would be allowed to carry under the new act, is 203.769.
The maximum number which they did carry (taking the voyage when the largest number was carried) was 193,724. Of the entire number, 100 carried no more on any voyage last year than they are allowed to carry under the new law. On one or more voyages, 75 steamers carried more than would be permitted under the new legislation.
Generally speaking, the passenger steamers from northern Europe do not carry any more passengers in the steerage than will be permitted after 1909 under the new legislation.
The bill will apply chiefly to steamers coming from the Mediterranean, which already carry at times nearly to their full legal capacity and must two years hence either carry fewer passengers or increase their accommodations.
Substantially, Section 42 takes standards of accommodations already voluntarily established by some of the principal steamship lines and requires other steamship lines to bring their accommodations up to such standards.
Of fifty-six steamships arriving at New York with steerage passengers during January" 1907, nine carried more than would 'be allowed under the new law.
“Section 42 of the Immigration Act.” In The Marine Review, Volume 35, No. 8, February 21, 1907, Page 20