IMMIGRATION The relief problem of the American seaboard cities is greatly affected by immigration. The immigrant of the twentieth century offers little resemblance to the colo nist of the early days of the republic. The colonist was establishing new outposts of civilization ; he was one who was capable of making his way in the face of adverse circumstances ; he was influenced by some strong religious or political or economic motive, and felt within himself a daring and strength of character sufficient to overcome the dangers, the loneliness, and the privations of the frontier. Colonization is, in short, one of those differ entiating agencies leading to the selection and survival of such as have initiative and exceptional capacity. Immi gration, on the other hand, offers a comparatively easy escape from hard conditions. The immigrant is one who follows in a path already made easy. He goes where his friends or relatives have gone, and settles in the spot where they have settled. He yields to the artifices of transportation agents, or may even be assisted by the public authorities of his own community to emigrate for his country's good. Until there is legal interference he comes under a contract to work at occupations and under industrial conditions about which he may be entirely ignorant, thus lending himself readily to a lowering of the standard both of living and of wages. He is scarcely conscious even of the handicap of speaking a foreign language, since be is worked and lodged with others of his own nationality, and under foremen who can speak to him in his own tongue.
The immigrant who goes under tempting circumstances to a place literally prepared for his arrival has, therefore, 162 rather less than the average initiative, independence, and courage, the qualities which are so predominant in the original settlers of a new country. This is, of course, by no means a correct description of all immigrants. There may be little difference between the best immigrant and the best colonist, or even between the majority of immi grants and the majority of colonists. The description applies rather to the marginal colonist and immigrant respectively —to the least efficient class who are neverthe less represented in each in considerable numbers. In the frontier colony the minimum wage-earning capacity and industrial efficiency is necessarily high ; in the immigrant it may be very low, and it is with these marginal immi grants that relief agencies have chiefly to deal.
The Immigration Laws of the United States have been framed to some extent explicitly to meet this situation. Not only is it made unlawful for lunatics, feeble-minded persons, and habitual criminals to enter, but those who are " liable to become public charges " are also excluded, and large discretion is necessarily lodged in officials sta tioned at the various points of entry, in determining whether particular persons are not included in this cate gory. The possession of a stipulated sum of money, or positive assurance from a friend or relative apparently worthy of confidence that the applicant for admission will not become a public charge, is regarded as evidence of eligibility for admission. No such test, however, can effectively bar out all who are on the brink of depend ence, and as a matter of fact many immigrants do become public charges, either in their own person or through the commitment of their children to public institutions, within a few years of their arrival.
The assisted ocean passage and the ready employment on arrival, to which reference have been made, although they serve to attract less efficient and intelligent laborers, are advantages which are not to be had for nothing. By excessively long hours, by overcrowded, unsanitary tene ments, and by insufficient wages, the immigrant returns full measure of payment for his escape from the struggle for independence and its initial hardships. Initial obstacles have been removed only that the remainder of his days may be exploited to his injury. The liberty which he has bartered he may regain by suffering and toil for him self or for his children, but there will be many who fail, and it is to meet these failures that the relief policy must be framed. The widows and infant children left behind by those who have died from consumption, or who have been killed in factories ; the shiftless, intemperate men and women whose lives have been sapped by their pre mature employment as children ; ineffective workers who are so because they are illiterate and untrained ; the sick and disabled, whose relatives are in distant lands and are poor, — these, and other types of dependents whom we have already had to consider in other relations, are increased in number and their natural resources for relief are fewer, because of immigration.