Washington (Apr. 4)
That it was not the Eastern and Southern Europeans who have cause to protest against the 1890 census as discriminatory, but rather the Northwestern European nationalities who could claim that the 1910 census provided for in the immigration bill now before the Senate, discriminated against them, was the entirely new argument featured in the three hour speech of Senator Reed of Pennsylvania in the Senate yesterday.
Senator Reed, who is the chairman of the Senate Sub-Committee on Immigration, declared that originally, for the sake of expediency, he favored the 1890 census, but that he abandoned his support of it, in favor of the 1910 census, because of the many protests made by the Jews and Italians, in order to show them that no discrimination was intended. He was not, however, satisfied with the 1910 census because it discriminated against the Nordics, and to prove his point, the Senator placed upon the walls of the Senate Chamber, charts showing the immigration into America for the past fifty or sixty years.
He argued that the proper basis for the quota allotments was not the number of immigrants who happened to be in the United States in 1910, but the racial origin, as far back as could be traced, of the entire present population of this country. He contended that that was the only fair method of computation. According to the data submitted, which he obtained from the Census Bureau, he claimed that 78% of the present population of America is of Northwestern European origin; but that the proportion alloted that group under the 1910 census was only 40%. Reed declared that inasmuch as the Nordic was the predominating racial stock of American population, the greater consideration given to other racial groups under the 1910 census “is a discrimination against us.”
At one point in his speech, Senator Reed dealt with the question of close relatives from the quota, and he expressed his gratification at the deliberate omission of the Senate bill to grant this privilege. He stated that the chief superiority of the Senate bill over the Johnson Bill, which exempts close relatives from the quota, was in that point.
The purpose of the new immigration law, he declared, is to reduce immigration, and the Senate Bill for that reason is more acceptable, in spite of the 1910 census, because, without the relative exemption clause, it would reduce immigration to a much lower figure than the
Johnson Bill. He also prophesied that under the Johnson Bill, unlimited opportunities would be given for fraud, because the Government would have no way of investigating or proving that immigrants who claimed to be close relatives were not so in fact.
Senator Reed’s speech took up the entire time of the Senate yesterday, and discussion on the bill will be continued today. According to present indications, the debate will be quite protracted, and there seems to be no prospect of a vote until the latter part of next week.