Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

public institutions of that city contain nearly 65 per cent of foreigners, although they are but about 30 per cent of the population,

Thus far we have in our grouping of facts kept strictly within the literal limitations of the title at the head of this article. The subject cannot, however, be fairly treated without a thought of our larger foreign population, which includes the children of foreigners. These make up a body of our citizens who enter into a larger life and liberty than their parents, with all the inherited prejudices and vices of their parentage, spending their early years in an environment distinctly foreign in thought and often foreign in language. It is from this class that we find our criminal army most largely recruited. It takes more than one generation to get the taint of “effete monarchy” out of the blood, and the shamrock is a plant of such strong root that it takes more than one generation to replace it with the golden-rod. We have not time to study the complex and often confused tables of nationality to be found in our various reports of prisons. But if we turn to the report of the Prison Association of New York for 1888, and study the tables of discharged prisoners, we shall find quite enough to convince us that a danger incident to unrestricted immigration is to be found in the unborn families of incoming aliens. Of 584 discharged prisoners who applied for assistance to the Prison Association of New York in a single year, 174, or 30 per cent., were foreigners, and 238, or 41 per cent., though born in this country, were the children of foreign-born parents. If in our thought we consider the foreign population as the foreign-born together with the children of the foreign-born, we find that this class furnishes rather more than 71 per cent of our prison population. Lest these figures should not be considered a fair showing, as having been gathered outside the prisons, I will take the figures of a typical institution, the report of which happens to be lying close at hand as I write. Of 182 prisoners committed to the Massachusetts Reformatory for Women in 1880-81, 88 were of foreign birth, and 149 were either of foreign birth or the children of foreigners ; that is, 48.3 per cent. were alien in fact, and 81.4 were the children of foreigners, having the prejudices and vices of foreigners and the crime tendency of their respective nationalities.

From the figures that I have quoted, it is very evident that there is some relation between the great stream of immigration and the ever-increasing crime class of our country. Let us try to find out just what this relation is,- whether a relation of quantity or quality; whether our action in the matter should be in the direction of reducing the number of immigrants or of demanding an improvement in their character. If we again examine the figures of the census reports, we shall no doubt be surprised that, with the enormous volume of immigration, the percentage of the foreign to the native element remains much the same in the last three census. periods, ranging between 13.1 per cent. and 14.4 per cent. of the population. The increase of crime, however, is enormous and out of all proportion to the increase of the population. Going back to 1850, as the first census period of our reckoning, we find that the ratio of prisoners to each million of the population was 290 for that year; for 1860 it was 607 to each million; in 1870 it was 853; in 1889 it was 1,169. These figures force us to the conclusion that the increase in crime has no relation to the mere volume of immigration. The relation, if any exists, must be found to be a relation of quality rather than of quantity.

This naturally brings us to an analysis of our immigratory increase, since, if any relation is to be found between this factor of population and our crime increase, it must be found in the kind of people that are coming to us. In regard to nationality, we find that, of our foreign population,

.

The British Empire furnishes
Ireland furnishes .
Germany
Norway and Sweden furnish
China furnishes
Italy

5.5 per cent.
3.6
3.9
0.7
0.2
0.08

ow, let us see if these percentages are in proportion to the foreign element of our prison population. I find by the figures of the United States census* that, of our prison population,

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

This, it will be seen, is only placing our reckoning among those born in foreign countries. A glance will show us the disproportion between Ireland's 3.6 per cent. of the population and her 9.2

• In this estimate, prisoners convicted for minor military offences are omitted, leaving the aggregate of prisoners 57,684.

[ocr errors]

per cent of the criminal class; that her crime tendency as represented here is in strong contrast with the figures for Germany which show 3.9 per cent. of the population and only 3.6 per cent. of the prisoners, or just above of Ireland's record in the imprisoned crime class. It is much to be regretted that we have no statistics easily available for similar comparisons in that larger class, the children of foreign-born parents. The best we can do and it gives us an approximate idea of the condition of things — is to turn once more to the report of the Prison Association of New York. We see at a glance that 276 of the 584 discharged prisoners who applied for help, or more than 47 per cent., were either born in Ireland or were of Irish parentage; while Germany, furnishing 134,254 more of the population of the country than Ireland, furnishes but 12.8 per cent. of these beneficiaries, – a trifle more than one-fourth the number furnished by Ireland. Wherever in the United States prison figures are obtainable, the results are not greatly different.

If there is among the Irish immigrants a tendency to lawlessness, a superabundance of unrestrained Celtic energy that makes for crime, surely we ought not to have been the first to discover it. It has been hinted at from time to time in the British House of Commons; but, as I was told by an impartial Irish agitator, "if you hear anything against Ireland in the House of Commons, you are not to believe half of it; and, if you hear anything good, you may know that the half of it is not told.” I will set any statements made in that place aside, and seek my figures in the tables prepared by one of the coolest and most careful statisticians the world has known. We have seen that Great Britain furnishes 12 per cent. of our prison population, and that more than 9 per cent. is Ireland's portion in this sum. I take up an essay by Professor Leone Levi “On Indictable and Summary Jurisdiction Offences in England and Wales," and I find therein a reckoning for England similar to that which we have been making. Professor Levi states that the percentage of foreign-born population and prisoners was as follows:

Population. Criminals. 1871.

1878. Natives of Scotland,

0.9

2.3 Ireland,

13.1 colonies,

0.3

0.4 foreign countries,

0.6 Professor Levi attempts no explanation of the preponderance of

[ocr errors]

66

25

1.3

Irish offenders. He says further that “the total number of persons charged with crime was to each 1,000 of the population, in 1876, in France, 19.38; in 1878, in England, 27.8, in Scotland, 41.25, and in Ireland, 51.10. Thus it will be seen that the crime tendency of the Irish is more than double that of the French, and nearly double that of the English. We have no occasion here to discuss the cause of this crime tendency among the Irish. We have nothing to do with operative causes only so far as they appear in the personal history of every emigrant who seeks to land upon our shores; and no emigrant should be allowed to land of whose antecedents something is not known. At present, the facilities for investigating the antecedents of emigrants are meagre and inadequate. They do, however, constantly reveal cases that may well cause us alarm, and which emphasize the demand for more concise and thorough laws. Since we have found that the parallel between the increase of crime and the increase of immigration is not one of numbers, it behooves us to examine carefully the raw material for population that is being shipped to us.

The special committee of Congress to which I have already referred has in its report given us much carefully collected evidence, showing us that we are constantly receiving those who are known to have been burdensome to their own governments and are likely to become so to ours. Our consular reports on the subject are corroborative of the same danger. The reports of the immigration commissioners show the annual discovery of scores of criminals, but say nothing about the other hundreds who are undiscovered at the gate of the nation. Speaking of the law as applied to this class, Senator Morrill, in the speech from which I have already quoted, says:

In the case of convicts, our present law is even more faltering and uncertain. The party may be verily guilty, but, if unconvicted, it does not count, and the law does not apply. It can hardly be expected that men on the rogue's march, hunted out or in dread of being hunted out of their own country for crimes, will come here, and, at the instant of landing, turn state's evidence and confess themselves convicts,- an act which would be likely to send them directly back to the frigid justice of the land from which they had but just escaped. ... Obviously, the detection of convicts or criminals, from their physiognomy or their wardrobe, by State commissioners, when altogether

limited to such tests, must be perfunctory and unsatisfactory. But convicts are known at home, where the taint adheres forever.

Mr. Richard Daily Lang, in the admirable essay on “Evil Effects of Unrestricted Immigration," which took the prize of the American Economic Association, referring to the inefficiency of our present law, says very pertinently:

It is hardly necessary to point out the impossibility of the commissioners (as in New York) selecting, from a mob of 9,000 human beings daily, those who are prohibited, by simple inspection and in a limited time. A convict does not assume his stripes when travelling, but, like his more lordly neighbor, he goes incognito. ... The Anarchist waits an appreciative audience before he harangues.

The investigating committee of congress (generally spoken of as the Ford Investigation Committee, from the name of its chairman, the Hon. M. H. Ford, of Michigan), already referred to, places in the evidence obtained by them the statement of Examiner Hoffman, who declares that he had "seen immigrants with brands of a foreign workhouse, ticketed to different sections of the country"; and one of the emigration commissioners declares that "the local administration of affairs at Castle Garden, by the method and system now followed, is a perfect farce."

Until within a short time, the rooms of the Prison Association were frequently visited by discharged French, English, Swiss, and German criminals, who had been “assisted ” to emigrate, in some cases with a suspended sentence hanging over them and emigration the alternative. Having been admonished, during the administration of Mr. Evarts in the State Department, that no succor must be given by the society to British criminals, a hard and fast rule was made, to the effect that in case of such applications the authorities at Castle Garden should be notified. This rule was communicated to the foreign societies with which the Prison Association was in affiliation. The law, however, has been evaded again and again. Not many months ago a case came under the writer's notice which was so strongly typical as to be worthy of detailed citation here. My memorandum reads :

Case of Charles Barrel, English, forty years of age. this country with a note of introduction from the chaplain of an English prison. He stated that he was a ticket-of-leave man, sent to Manitoba by the Sheriff's Fund of London, but provided with a ticket only to New York. No money was given him for his fare from that point to Manitoba. He secured admission to a home for discharged prisoners. Afterward found work at his trade, that

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »