America to restrict immigration?
Ellis Island c, 1913, the gateway into the United States for many of the immigrants seeking a new life in the country Photo: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

America to restrict immigration?

Published: 10 August 1913

Washington, 10 August 1913 - Mr William B. Wilson, Secretary of the Federal Labour Department, has announced that the United States is looking closely at the question of immigration. He said: 'Our first duty is to those who are in America, native or foreign. The question naturally follows whether the tremendous influx of aliens is not inurious to those who are already here. There is no question that there is great evil in our immigration system and it is up to us to correct this.'


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Graphic showing the countries of origin of the people arriving into the US in May 1913

In May this year the United States allowed 137,262 migrants to enter the country, and had only refused entry to 2,804 individuals: 653 because they were contract labourers, 574 as having physical defects preventing them from earning and 240 because they suffered from contagious diseases.

Of the total, 6,939 immigrants were recorded as having entered the United States from Ireland, a small number compared to 34,411 Italians and 25,939 Poles. Given that over a million immigrants entered the United States in the period from July 1912 to May this year, the immigration question is becoming a big political question and one, it seems, which Mr Wilson will address sooner rather than later.

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]

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Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.