THE Republicans have taken the responsibility of prohibiting the voluntary immigration of free skilled laborers into the country, and have been the first to renounce the claim that America welcomes every honest comer, and offers a home to the honest victim of the oppression of kings or of cruel laws. Chinese labor has greatly developed the Pacific coast. It is in demand and use to-day, and the fidelity, efficiency, and integrity of the Chinese laborer are not denied. Except for the demand, he would not come. Henceforth for ten years any one who comes may be imprisoned for a year, and then expelled from the country. Those who are already here must be registered, and furnished with passports to authenticate themselves, and justify their travelling in the country. Chinese travellers who are not laborers nor residents will be admitted to the country only by passports, and the national and State governments are prohibited from naturalizing any Chinese person. Yet no offense is charged upon these people, and they are but a handful---at most, a hundred thousand. They are not migratory, and they come only because of the demand for their labor. The Federal party sank under the odium of the alien and sedition laws. But they only provided for the removal of suspicious foreign individuals who might be plotting against the government. The Republican party has gone further in prohibiting the coming of a few honest and intelligent and thrifty laborers. The idea of a Chinese invasion is merely preposterous, and whenever it should threaten to approach, it could be easily averted.
Having laid down the principle of discrimination against foreign immigration, those who are responsible for it ought not to shrink from the just consequences. The statistics of crime and disorder in the country and the records of corruption in our politics show that all of them have been greatly increased and stimulated by the Irish immigration. Dangers to the free-school system have also appeared from the same source. Threatening complications with friendly foreign states are due to the same element. Why not suspend the Irish immigration for tell years, and imprison the honest Irishman who comes of his own free-will to get higher wages and to improve his condition? Why not require all those who are already here to obtain certificates from the collectors of ports, and to produce passports if they wish to move about the country? Why not enact that Irishmen who are not laborers shall be admitted to the country only with passports, and that the words "Irish laborers" shall be construed to mean both skilled and unskilled laborers?
Why not, but that such provisions
would be repugnant to the American principle and to common-sense? Yet such
an exclusion would be very much more plausible than that of the Chinese.
For it may be very well asked whether the doubt of the practicability of
popular republican institutions does not chiefly arise from the vast immigration
of foreigners during the last sixty years. As originally formed, this was
a rural republic of a practically homogeneous race and religious faith.
Its warmest friends might have doubted had they foreseen the vast extent
of immigration and the prompt political enfranchisement of every immigrant.
But our history has vindicated our principle, and it is mortifying that
the party for all men should have legislated upon
DOUGLAS'S assertion: "I am for the white man against the negro, and for the negro against the alligator." The confession that a hundred thousand peaceful Chinese endanger the welfare of fifty millions of Americans comes strangely from the Republican party.
May 20, 1882