NOT long ago, after a chase during which a hundred shots were fired, a motor-boat was captured off Long Island. It carried two hundred cases of whiskey brought from a liquor ship hovering just outside the twelve-mile limit, and in the captain’s pocket was an unmailed letter from one of the ship’s sailors to his parents in Glasgow. In it the sailor wrote: —
Well, parents, this is a very exciting life up here. There are boatloads of Chinese, Italians, Greeks, and so forth, all waiting to be smuggled into the States. There are also a couple of steamers loaded with heroin, morphia, and cocaine, all of which is smuggled in day by day. We have a seaplane which comes out daily and takes nineteen cases [of liquor] every trip, making an average of six trips a day.
Regardless of the sailor’s veracity as to the details of that particular case, his letter fairly reflects the character of present-day smuggling in the United States. Multiplied and magnified, and similarly interwoven, the same practices extend far and wide, the whole constituting a problem of grave import. Superficially, as this glimpse discloses it, the problem is only a domestic administrative matter; but, more deeply considered, it stretches away far beyond our time and our immediate affairs, and in its farther reaches it involves our polity, our relations with the world, our national and racial destiny.
The new smuggling, as thus disclosed, forms a chapter in the national control of foreign traffic that is unparalleled in both character and magnitude. The old smuggling, as it has been known for centuries among all nations, was almost uniformly an offense against revenue laws, its results being measured chiefly by the loss of customs duties to the Government thus defrauded. That kind, which exists whenever and wherever customs duties are imposed, raises only an ordinary problem of law-enforcement. The new smuggling — of liquor, narcotics, and persons — is a far more important matter from the standpoint of national welfare and interests. It has to do, not with mere dutiable entries, but with entries that are wholly prohibited on high grounds of national policy, and, in so far as it succeeds, the result is not a mere pecuniary fraud but the defeat of policies deemed vital by the American people. Our exclusion of liquor and narcotics on grounds of social welfare is still a new policy, and though it is not uniquely American no other nation has applied it so rigidly or on so great a scale. Our exclusion of aliens is altogether new in both genesis and purpose, and, as will be pointed out later, is fraught with a novel and profound significance.
As the essential nature of the smuggler’s offense has thus changed, so has the technique of his operations and of the necessary counter-operations. His pecuniary incentive is greater, his opportunities are enlarged, and the task of suppression is rendered more difficult by a variety of causes.
In mercantile smuggling of the old type the measure of the smuggler’s profit in no case could exceed the amount of the duty, even if his operations could be conducted without expense. In the case of wholly prohibited articles, on the other hand, the profit from contraband trade is indefinitely great; the smuggler is no longer in competition with legitimate importers, and the only limit to his demands is what the traffic will bear. The profit on smuggled liquor may be several hundred per cent of its original cost. In the case of narcotics the profit is still more, and the risk and expense less. Thus morphine, for example, which in the inferior grades can be bought in Europe for two or three dollars an ounce, and in Germany as cheaply as a dollar, has recently been sold at $35 and $40 an ounce in the Detroit underworld, this being the smuggler’s wholesale price to the ‘dope peddler ‘ who may make a further profit of from $100 to $150 an ounce.
In the case of smuggled aliens the possibilities of gain are even greater. As far back as 1913 the fee for smuggling a Chinese from Ensenada, Mexico, to the vicinity of San Francisco was $250, which rose to $650 as the efforts of immigration officials became more effective. One of the prosecutions in that year disclosed that a certain launch, whose total cost equipped was only $1300, brought from Ensenada to Half Moon Bay thirty-eight Chinese at $450 a head, earning over $17,000 in two weeks’ time. Another launch carried twenty-two at $500 each. This, it is to be noted, was in a time of lower prices, and the aliens in question were Orientals of the poorest class. What the rewards are, or may become, for the smuggling of Europeans better supplied with money can only be guessed. According to Secretary Davis of the Department of Labor, aliens are willing to pay from $100 to $2500 for illegal passage from Cuba to Florida. For bringing an alien across the Detroit River, one of the simplest and easiest of such operations, the ruling fee is said to be from $25 to $100.
Not only are the profits of the new smuggling much greater, but various factors have combined to make the traffic easier, and detection and capture more difficult. Ships with the aid of radio can easily make a rendezvous with confederates at any desired point offshore, where motor-boats can soon transfer contraband persons or cargo — or if pursued can quickly lose themselves in some remote inlet or crowded harbor. Along our land frontiers automobiles and good roads have aided smugglers, as they have other kinds of criminals. Even aircraft is beginning to engage in the traffic, and unquestionably will do so increasingly. Liquor has been carried in that way, and it is said that as many as two hundred Chinese have been brought by air from Mexico to points in California. The smuggler of aliens enjoys a further advantage in the fact that he can operate in remote places, and also in the fact that he collects his pay in advance and is quit of his charges as soon as they are landed, in contrast with the smuggler of merchandise, who must incur the trouble and risk incident to its handling and sale. Moreover the new type of smuggler has the aid of a much larger body of abettors and sympathizers than the old, whether he deals in prohibited articles or prohibited persons.
These factors of difficulty, from the standpoint of law-enforcement, are aggravated by certain other difficulties of an international nature. The law of the sea, not having kept pace with mechanical progress, hampers the authorities in operations of search and seizure. The restrictions on the activities of officials along the land frontiers remain the same as they were before railroads, automobiles, aircraft, telephones, or radio were known. As regards liquor, there is a conspicuous lack of sympathetic coöperation on the part of foreign Governments touching such matters as fraudulent clearance-papers and the exchange of information. In the case of aliens there is not only lack of voluntary coöperation, but a positive desire on the part of some foreign nations to unload their undesirables upon us.
A still further difficulty arises from the indifference of neighboring countries to the south of us, which themselves impose little if any restriction upon immigration, and which thereby become easy stepping-stones for persons seeking to enter this country illegally from Europe or Asia.
The three kinds of smuggling under discussion — liquor, drugs, and aliens — are so interwoven as to form a single problem; but the last is immeasurably the most important of the three, not only from the domestic standpoint, but because of its international bearings. Our immigration policy is in fact a challenge to the world, actuated by profound national motives on our part, but by the same token inviting foreign opposition the exact character and extent of which no man can foresee. In its larger aspect it involves nothing less than the question of what nations and races of the earth shall succeed to the yet unabsorbed residue of the earth’s resources and opportunities.
This is strictly a modern question, indeed one largely of the future; for it has only recently begun to take form in the minds of the world’s leading nations. Also, for the present, it is almost uniquely an American problem. Other nations, it is true, such as Russia and Turkey in recent times, have undertaken to exclude certain classes or nationalities, but those efforts at most had a limited objective. The restrictions imposed by Canada and Australia on Asiatic immigration parallel our action to a degree, but they are directed only against certain races deemed intrinsically undesirable. The present Canadian restrictions on European immigration, though rigid as far as they go, are occupational in character, no immigrant being disqualified for entrance because of his nationality, and no numerical limit being applied to immigrants of the occupations specified for admission. The United States is the first example of a great nation adopting a general programme of restriction against aliens of all kinds in order to carry out a far-reaching national, racial, and economic policy.
As long as the unoccupied areas of the earth seemed indefinitely great, natural resources scantily utilized and largely unappropriated, and populations in most countries not disproportionate to food-supply, the problem of either immigration or emigration was too remote for serious consideration. That was the situation up to about a hundred years ago. But the last century has seen virtually all unoccupied lands appropriated, and most of the known natural resources in the world either acquired outright by the more active nations or controlled by them in some way for national purposes.
During the same period the development of applied science has resulted in enormous industrial expansion and a corresponding increase of populations. This change was not the sole cause of the great wave of European emigration that began in the nineteenth century, but it greatly accelerated that movement. Even in the absence of such a development, and if each nation had remained self-contained economically, presumably populations still would have increased according to the normal curve until the exhaustion of foodsupply stimulated emigration. But an unequal industrial development of nations took place, whereby the more active drew food and raw materials from the backward and undeveloped ones, making payment therefor by the exportation of labor in the form of manufactured goods. This in effect augmented the food supply of the progressive nations and permitted their populations to expand with a rapidity and to a degree that otherwise never would have been possible.
Thus the world, from the standpoint of food-supply and population, has come to a state of unstable equilibrium. Some industrial nations have reached, and others are approaching, the stage where a depression in their export markets or any serious disturbance of their industrial activity has the same effect as a crop shortage in an overpopulated agricultural country. In such a situation the result must be (a) further industrial expansion — that is, the acquisition of new markets — a step that only postpones the day of reckoning; (b) voluntary restriction of population; or (c) emigration. The last has been the historic answer of agricultural peoples to a diminishing foodsupply, and it is likely to be increasingly the answer of industrial peoples to a waning standard of living.
The whole problem might be stated in terms of the standard of living. Whether among a primitive pastoral folk, an agricultural and commercial people, or a highly complex industrial community, the effect of overpopulation is to depress that, standard, first among the economically weaker classes, and to a certain degree among all classes. There is no essential difference in that regard between the most primitive and the most advanced nations; the plain lack of food in the former is merely translated into diminished incomes and curtailed opportunities in the latter. Their reaction also is identical— an effort to expand, either by mass movement or infiltration, into regions where land is cheaper or, in the case of industrial peoples, where opportunities for labor and exploitation are better.
In the light of these fundamental historic facts we can appraise the situation of the American people, their opportunities, their necessities, and their possible dangers.
By good fortune America was colonized before the causes of economic migration began to operate. The United States had time to attain a secure independence and political maturity, and to become populous enough to occupy its entire territory effectively, before the results of science and industry had greatly stimulated emigration from Europe, and before the rivalry for markets and sources of raw material had reached anything like its present intensity. During that long period we had no food problem, no land problem, no employment problem. Opportunities of all kinds were abundant and they were exploited with the utmost energy and success. The result was that by the time the pressure of population in the crowded industrial nations became acute — a condition visibly expressed in the Great War in Europe and in the Japanese programme of expansion — the American people had developed a standard of living unequaled elsewhere in the world.
To-day we live as in a walled garden of opulence, into which less favored nations gaze with envious eyes. Thanks to our geographical situation, the physical strength we have attained, and the rapid occupation of all our habitable area, the danger of any national invasion in mass disappeared long ago. But unarmed invasion, invasion by infiltration, took its place. The individual in Europe or Asia notes the superior opportunities in America, expressed in the American standard of living, and wishes to share them. The prevailing motive of this ‘new emigration’ is neither spiritual, emotional, nor political; it is one of material selfinterest. And his Government, equally from motives of self-interest, favors and promotes such emigration. Especially it encourages the inefficient, the inferior, and the undesirable to emigrate to America and divide up with us the advantages that we enjoy. We, on the other hand, with an insight that is clear and unerring, though tardy in developing, are determined to conserve these opportunities for ourselves, to exploit them for our own national ends, and to maintain that superior standard of living which we have created.
In this policy, born of an absolutely logical and righteous determination, we array ourselves in interest against those nations that have reached, or are approaching, the limits of their economic opportunities. The lessons of history teach that no people can continue indefinitely to enjoy unchallenged any great economic advantage. When or how that challenge may come depends upon the magnitude of the advantage, the necessities of other nations, and their relative strength. We may be sure, however, of this much: that if we maintain and strengthen our restrictive policy it will be done not only without the approval of the older and crowded nations, but against more or less opposition on their part. How active that opposition may yet become, time alone can reveal. The attitude of the Japanese Government and people last spring was a sign that cannot be ignored.
Fog always lies between us and the future, but if anything takes clear shape on that distant horizon-line it is the inevitable alignment in economic interest of the more crowded nations against the less crowded. This is only another aspect of a forecast that has often been expressed in other terms — that the rivalries and wars of the future will be economic, just as the last war and the rivalries from which it sprang were economic. Religious, dynastic, and even racial factors become subordinate in the presence of the inexorable pressure of populations and declining standards of living; and it is precisely the most capable and energetic nations that will feel the effects of those forces most acutely. The form and extent of their reaction have no assignable limits. As against thinly populated nations that are weak, the aggression of the populous ones may in some cases take the form of political domination or even conquest. In the case of the stronger ones, such as the United States and the British Dominions, it seeks the desired results through infiltration.
This process of infiltration naturally began in the United States, the land of highest standard and greatest opportunities. That movement we have forbidden entirely from Asia and undertaken greatly to curtail from Europe. This raises our immediate problem — the enforcement of our own law in our own territory. But the next stage involves us more broadly, for our sphere of national interest does not stop wholly at our frontiers. For racial as well as economic reasons we should regret to see Canada invaded by extensive immigration of nationalities that we deem it necessary to exclude; for, racially and economically, North America is virtually one country, and the maintenance of the American standard of living and of Anglo-Saxon supremacy in Canada is a vitally important corollary to our own policy. It is to be hoped that the Government and people of Canada will recognize, before it is too late, the essential identity of the alien-problem in the two countries by adopting a similar policy as far as the racial aspects of immigration are concerned. For political reasons we might be impelled to oppose an extensive Asiatic infiltration into Mexico — a process that might lead to the same results against which the Monroe Doctrine was directed. There may, therefore, be occasion for diplomatic endeavors to obtain the support and coöperation of other countries of the less crowded type, in which racial and economic changes might have a direct connection with our own interests.
The wisdom and expediency of maintaining our present immigration-policy, and even making it more stringent, ought by this time to be beyond argument. It is the only means whereby we can conserve our racial character, our Anglo-Saxon culture, and our political ideals. It is the only means whereby we can preserve the American standard of living, or retard its decline. The internal opposition, in fact, proceeds largely from alien elements, whose views on such a matter obviously should not be heeded, and from exploiters of cheap labor, whose attitude is self-serving and antisocial. There is another element of opposition, it is true, made up of those who would keep the doors open from motives of conscience or emotion; but it should be a sufficient answer to their plea to point out the fact that the filling-up of this country from Europe would be detrimental to America without being permanently beneficial to Europe. It would depress our standard of living, but it would not appreciably raise the standard of the crowded countries, because emigration from those countries would be replaced by new growth of population, thus keeping them constantly at the point of saturation.
America, too, will reach the point of saturation in time. Even if the period and extent of our growth should be enlarged through the development of new food-supplies, the final result would only be postponed — the stage when the limit of food-supply would check further increase. That stage, according to very convincing reasoning, is likely to be reached within two centuries at the latest, when our population will approximate 200 millions and our standard of living will inevitably be lower than it is to-day. The practical question, therefore, is whether we purpose to have this additional hundred millions of population made up of persons of our own race and traditions, or recruited from the submerged strata of European countries; whether we shall try to retard this lowering of our standard of living or to accelerate it. The voice of wisdom can give but one answer.
We are, then, embarked upon a vital national policy which is likely to be imperiled by forces both within and without the country. What measures should be taken to ensure its success?
Beginning with the domestic phase, which is merely one of law-enforcement, the only logical method of approach is to treat the whole collective problem of the new smuggling as a unit; since all three kinds are carried on more or less by the same persons and instrumentalities, and all tend more or less to the same result of forcing in upon us persons and things that we desire to exclude. With this in mind, and taking the weakest spot first, the primary step should be to strengthen the immigration service, in both personnel and equipment, to whatever degree may be necessary to obtain the desired results. Its equipment should at least be as effective as that of the Prohibition unit.
The next should be to coördinate closely, and as nearly as possible to unify, the mechanism for the suppression of liquorand narcotic-smuggling and that directed against the smuggling of aliens.
Three legislative steps also are particularly called for. One is the amendment of the lax and mischievous provisions of the La Follette Seamen’s Act, whereby alien sailors may land on sixty days’ shore-leave, regardless of their admissibility as immigrants, and under no control whatsoever. Through this loophole alone in the last fiscal year 23,194 aliens entered this country as deserters from merchant ships. Another imperative legislative step is a law requiring the registration of all aliens and providing adequate funds for the deportation of all that are unlawfully here — the latter feature being especially important because the funds now available are grossly inadequate, resulting in the virtual breakdown of that part of our immigration policy. The third, hardly less important, is the application of the quota law to Mexico, Cuba, and the West Indies — incidentally as an aid in stopping illegal immigration from those countries, but primarily to reduce an alarming and increasing influx of legal entrants who are less assimilable than perhaps any of the European races to which our quota law applies.
With these measures taken, we should be able to enforce fairly well our laws against all kinds of smuggling. However, to carry out our policy with full efficiency and in its broader aspects, certain matters of foreign relations are involved. Among those of immediate importance the first, already partly accomplished, is the extension of our right of search in territorial waters. The extension of that right by the recent British treaty, in the case of operations against liquor-smugglers, is a very important gain, evincing a spirit on the part of Great Britain which is fully appreciated in America. We should, however, try to extend the zone of our operations against all kinds of smuggling, and not only by specific treaty provisions but by efforts to bring the general rules of international law into closer conformity with modern conditions. This would involve seeking such changes in existing rules as the nations can be persuaded to accept — such, for example, as a broad interpretation of the principles of ‘contact with shore’ and ‘hot pursuit’ of offenders from territorial waters on to the high seas. It also might involve new rules touching the use of aircraft, giving all nations such freedom of action in the air outside their territorial limits as may be reasonably necessary to the enforcement of their laws. Diplomatic efforts should be equally directed toward securing all the coöperation obtainable from other nations in aiding our officials to prevent illegal entrances of all kinds from their ports or through their territory.
Such is the problem of the new smuggling — a problem born of our new policy of excluding persons and things on fundamental motives of national welfare. As such it obligates us to the utmost efforts on our own part to make that policy effective in all its three applications; and it also justifies us in asking from other nations such freedom of action as may be reasonably necessary, and seeking such coöperation from them as we can obtain.
The evil of liquorand drug-smuggling is already familiar to the public in all its bearings, and the urgency of suppressive measures is recognized. The same is not true of the public attitude toward the smuggling of aliens. The exclusion of aliens is still a new policy, not yet completely mature. In consequence the public is not so fully aware of how that policy is being nullified, nor does public opinion foresee so clearly the results of its nonenforcement. Yet the fact remains that of all forms of smuggling that of aliens is incomparably the most important, and its consequences the most profound and irreparable.
This phase of the problem, therefore, is the one to which Congress should immediately address itself, the one upon which the sentiment of the nation needs most urgently to be awakened. Our immigration policy has come to stay, and is bound up with our future welfare as intimately as the Monroe Doctrine; indeed it is a logical and inescapable corollary to that doctrine and to the Declaration of Independence. As a measure of national conservation — economic, social, and racial — this great démarche of the United States has no counterpart. It is a normal product of new world conditions, and the worthy answer of a great nation to the demands of the time — wisely and presciently given while those demands still can be answered effectively.
We shall meet with difficulties, but the nation must follow its true course. There is no other course that does not involve a confession of impotence or lead to a surrender of our national birthright.