Mexico City (Jan. 2)
(By Our Mexico City Correspondent, Anita Brenner)
The Mexican government contemplates putting into action an immigration quota system which will permit a limited number of immigrants from each foreign country and will admit only such persons as are not likely to create competition in the Mexican labor market. This step on the part of the government is due to the fact that many of the Jewish immigrants who came here within the last two years or so have been unable to secure employment and are exposed to various privations, and also because there are evidences of the beginning of hostility from those labor unionis into whose ranks most of them would belong-tailors, shoemakers, etc.
In the meantime the conditions among the Jewish immigrants have lateiy been such that many of them are planning to return to their native countries. According to Dr. M. L. Leff, head of the clinic conducted by the B’nai B’rith in Mexico, and practicing physician in the city, forty Jewish immigrants returned to Russia two weeks ago, and more are getting ready to leave. Those who remain are faced with the prospect of trying to peddle the same goods and in the same places (which are the only goods and places available) that all the others are working with.
The reason for this bad situation is the temporary industrial and commercial inactivity in Mexico, due to a period of reconstruction-laws being revised and reformed, doubt as to the safety of foreign capital, etc. This is the obstacle that keeps Mexico’s amazing natural riches from being united with Mexico’s enormous natural powers to produce that social well-being which at present does not exist.
The immigrants, most of them penniless, naturally share the privations of the natives, which are not negligible. The government has been wrestling with this problem, but has been unable to bring about any tangible results. Presumably, until there is a fundamental change in the economic conditions of the country, the immigrants together with the rest of the population cannot expect any relief in their situation.
Mexico has been consistently friendly to the Jews, openly because it believes that Jews can help the country: with money, with brains, with work. Jewish immigrants have come to Mexico with bright hopes, and many of them have been disappointed. It is not a land flowing with milk and honey; they do not receive the help they had been led to expect; they have received a minimum amount of relief where a maximum amount is needed, in view of the bad economic and industrial situation of Mexico just now. Many of them have been banking on he promise of the Joint Distribution Committee to supplement the at best meagre B’nai B’rith aid, and the failure of this promise to materialize to ?ate was the cause of the regrettable demonstration against the investigators of that organization, in the summer of 1925.
The solution advocated by Mr. Joseph Schlossberg, when he visited Mexico in the fall of 1924, as the establishing of small industries, to provide employment for the immigrant Jews, and this solution has generally been recognized as the most adequate. Due, however, to the fear of that newspaper bogie, “the Mexican bad man,” the hesitancy practiced by all foreign capital has been shared in this case, too, although here it would essentially be not capital, but labor in cooperation.