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Davis Urges Selective Immigration; Lauds Jewish Community Centers

May 10, 1923
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That he is more in earnest than ever in his selective immigration plan and compulsory registration and Americanizing education of aliens, was declared tonight by Secretary of Labor Davis in his speech before the fifth annual conference of the National Association of Jewish Community Center Secretaries.

Mr. Davis stated he is now conducting negotiations with representatives of thirty seven racial groups and nationalities, with a view of obtaining their ideas and cooperation in the formulation of a bill to be proposed during the next session of Congress embodying his proposals, which he described as his “pet idea”, He said he was trying to work out a bill agreeable to all. Twenty percent of aliens are now voluntarily attending Americanization classes twice a month, he said. “If this is right for twenty percent, it is equally right for one hundred per cent, and I propose that this should be compulsory”.

Defending his proposal on ground that it is not only for the benefit of America but for the immigrant as such, asserted, “Every immigrant who commits a crime, who is sent to an insane asylum, who becomes a pauper, forms a source of prejudice and bigotted hatred against all other immigrants of his nationality who are in this country”.

Cases of hardships such as have arisen under the operation of the exclusion regulation will be prevented by selecting immigrants abroad before they sell their belongings and begin their journey. This is the only humanitarian solution of the immigration problem. he declared.

Davis heartily endorsed the Jewish community center movement, making a strong plea for the erection of a Jewish center in Washington, a movement for which is now in progress.

The Jewish center will keep alive the traditions of race, and, at the same time, operate as a vital agency of Americanism,” he declared. “I am in favor of preserving the traditions of the various racial groups: Americanism does not involve the abandonment of these traditions, but at the same time the immigrants should be educated in American institutions and be taught the English language.”

Mr. Davis stressed the importance of educational work in preparing immigrants for participation in American citizenship and praised particularly the efforts of Jews to bring about this end. He stated that in his own experience on public school boards, he had found Jews consistently in favor of everything that meant better educational opportunities for children of this land. He recited a few instances of his own boyhood, coming here as an eight year old immigrant to work in the mills, and he glorified the opportunity that American had given to him and those like him.

Speaking of his sympathies for the Jews, Mr. Davis told the story of his younger days when his brother had to be routed from bed every Sabbath morning to light fires in the Orthodox synagogue near his home that the worshippers whose religious scruples forbade kindling of fire on Sabbaths might worship in comfort. He urged respect for the traditions of the older generations and appealed to the social workers to foster a better understanding between parents and children, particularly between foreign born parents and their American children.

“I do not care what a man’s religion is as long as he has a religion” he said. “I do not care what a man’s race is as long as he is a good American while he is in this country”.

In the past few years, $7,250,000 have been expended in several large cities for the erection of Jewish community centres and for the expansion of their work, Harry L. Glucksman, executive director of the Jewish Welfare Board stated. Among cities which have raised money for modern structures are Chicago with one million dollars, Philadelphia $900,000, St. Louis $500,000, Kansas City $250,000 and Reading, Pa. $170,000. A million dollars a year is being spent by the Y.N.H.A. and Kindred associations whose membership totals fifty thousand, it was reported.

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