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Digest of Public Opinion on Jewish Matters

May 4, 1927
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[The purpose of the Digest is informative. Preference is given to papers not generally accessible to our readers. Quotation does not indicate approval.–Editor.]

A proposal to admit to the United States only “superior aliens,” by lifting the immigration question from the plane of nationality and business economics to the plane of vital economics, or eugenics, is made by Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics at Yale University. Writing in the New York “World” of Monday Prof. Fisher points out that the immigration policy of the United States, from the very beginning of its history, has been “the narrowly economic one of admitting cheap labor.” Moreover, none of the restrictive measures devised for the regulation of immigration “lifts us very far from the narrow economic plane from which we started,” Professor Fisher declares, making his proposal as follows:

“Exclusion and restriction have been found in the main to meet our present business needs, that is all.

“From business economics the question needs lifting to the broader plane of vital economics, or eugenics. Let all incoming white immigrants be scrutinized, preferably in the countries of their birth, and only those admitted who prove superior to the average American in body, mind, and morals. Then all other objections would dwindle; most of them would disappear.

“Nationality is a poor test. It seems to be true that the nations of Northern and Western Europe yield fewer idiots, imbeciles, feeble-minded persons, epileptics, insane and persons of constitutional psychopathic inferiority than the peoples of the Mediterranean countries and East Europe. But superior persons may come from any nation. Of course, the colored races should be excluded, because they do not mix well with the whites. But for all white aliens we should apply the army physical and mental tests. We can also require of each enough of his individual history, his education and the pedigree of his near kin to be certain whether he will bring to us traits that are not sound and better than the average of our American stock.”

The measure, Professor Fisher believes, can be applied without the tragedy of separating families on arrival at our ports. He says:

“Secretary of Labor Davis has proposed that alien heads of families seeking visas for permanent residence here should be required to name the members of their families which they intend later to bring in. These should have a chance to pass, together with their family heads, the same tests and to receive visas for future admission. If any fail, the entire family would be on notice before its head embarked for these shores.”

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