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simple and innumerable disputes of the industrial world are removed from the wearisome processes of traditional jurisprudence. As long ago as 1806, France created industrial courts, and the example has been followed by Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and Belgium. A president, who represents the public, and an equal number of workers and employers sit as a jury rather than as a court. Lawyers Lawyers are barred; the parties to the dispute take turns relating grievance and defense, and in consequence of this simplicity, ninety per cent. of the cases are adjusted without formal hearings. In event of threatened strikes or lockouts, the courts have the power to sit as boards of arbitration, and it is only in rare cases that satisfactory agreements are not reached.
Compare the simplicity of this procedure with the American method of frequent trials, frequent appeals, reversed decisions, remanded cases, court costs, lawyers' fees, and months of delay, a gantlet that no poor man dares to run. The dollar out of which an alien is cheated may mean to him the difference between a bed or a park bench, and certainly his sense of injustice will not inspire him with respect for democratic institutions.
The processes of education must be quickened, and greater emphasis should be put upon the preparation of human beings for the business of life. Immigrant adults, as well as immigrant youth, should have the privilege of instruction in the English language, national, state, and municipal government, industrial laws, customs, and ways of American life, hygiene, sanitation, and all other allied subjects that will fit them to be intelligent, useful American citizens.
Germany, through a compulsory system of continuation schools, has control over a youth until his eighteenth year; and although the system has been in force since. 1891, it is only now that the United States is taking timid, tentative steps in the same direction.
Federal standards of education must be raised, and the established principle of federal aid to the poorer States should be
carried through to the point where illiteracy will vanish, whether the illiterate be a native-born child or an adult alien. Not the least vital task of the public-school system is to serve the immigrant during his struggle for prosperity and citizenship.
Health is no less important than education, and authoritative investigation has shown that adult delinquency and dependency are largely due to neglect in connection with the physical defects and deficiencies of the growing youth. Not alone is it necessary to have medical inspection and dental clinics for every child that passes through the public schools of the United States, but particularly in the case of the immigrant and the poverty-stricken native-born there is need of infant dispensaries, model kitchens, milk stations, visiting nurses, and a program of preventive medicine.
While new machinery in large measure may be necessary for the doing of all these things, the plant for its housing is already. at hand. The school-buildings of the United States offer themselves for the purpose in full perfection of convenience, economy, and effectiveness. As it is today, the schools, which represent the largest single investment of the people's money, are in use a scant seven hours a day for an average of one hundred and forty-four days a year.
The neighborhood is the group unit next in importance to the family itself, and the school-building is the center of the neighborhood. What reaches every child in the United States can reach every parent, and not only does the wider use of the school plant hold out its rich promise to the alien, but to the native-born as well.
In every building serving its neighborhood group may be placed the official representative of the federal system of immigrant distribution, the branch office of the federal employment-exchange, the industrial court, the medical inspection-bureau, the dental clinic, the milk station, the visiting nurses, the infant dispensary, the free-legal-aid bureau, the health office,
and the juvenile court. Here is the natural and suitable place for the instruction. of the adult alien in English and citizenship, for the art gallery, for the branch. library, for the model kitchen, and for the development of the play instinct.
Night use of the school-buildings strikes at the very heart of the leisure-time problem. In cities thousands of little children play in the streets, menaced alike by evil environment and the police court, and in the country life is admittedly dull and stagnant. Growing girls are forced into the dance-hall, men into the saloon, and women either gossip across stoops and fire-escapes or become fungous growths in kitchens. In competition with the reckless greeds of commercialized amusement, the social center offers amateur theatricals, debates, dancing-parties, moving-picture shows, receptions, gymnasium games, all in a clean, inspiring environment, subjected to the wholesome restraints of the family group and neighborly friendship.
The immigrants can be tapped for their rich store of folk-songs, games, and traditional customs, so that not only will the native-born be enriched and broadened, but the alien given that absolutely essential sense of belonging. To watch an interracial pageant in a New York schoolbuilding, shared in by twenty nationalities, happy, laughing, proud, and friendly, is complete answer to the question of assimilation.
The school-building should be the polling-place, and through the medium of the social center it is possible to effect the self-organization of voters into a deliberative body that will always be in session, the school-house its headquarters. Would not this be more inspiring to the alien than the location of voting-booths in livery-stables, barber shops, and sheds, or the gathering of voters in some saloonconnected room or in a hall paid for by interested parties out of mysterious funds?
With specific reference to the alien, the school-principal employed by the educational authorities to look after the children of immigrants may also be employed
by the immigration authorities to care for the adults as well. His should be the position of neighborhood guardian of these wards of the nation, looking after their inclusion in the proper classes, acquainting them with the services rendered by employment-bureau, health-office, free-legalaid bureau, and visiting nurses, and drawing them into the night play of the social center. In thickly settled communities, where a principal would not have the necessary time, an assistant or assistants might be appointed.
A beginning has been made. Wisconsin, Indiana, Massachusetts, Kansas, New York, Washington, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia are in possession of a law that permits the people to use school-buildings, aside from school hours, for the purpose of meeting and discussing "any and all subjects and questions which in their judgment may appertain to the educational, political, economic, artistic, and moral interest of the citizens." Out of it has grown the new profession of social secretary.
All that is necessary is the adoption of a federal policy that will give unity, purpose, and dynamic direction to what is now isolated and sporadic, and the task of immigrant assimilation is a sound base for such a policy. Fortunately enough, the money for the work is at hand, and what is more, it is money provided by the immigrant himself. To-day, in the United States Treasury, there is a balance of $10,000,000 in the head-tax fund contributed to by every new arrival. There is no question that this income was primarily intended as a sacred trust fund, for the law of 1882, levying a tax of fifty cents on every immigrant, provided that "the money thus collected . . . shall constitute a fund to be called the immigrant fund, and shall be used . . . to defray the expenses of regulating immigration under this act and for the care of immigrants arriving in the United States, for the relief of such as are in distress, and for the general purposes and expenses of carrying this act into effect."
In 1894 the head-tax was raised to one
dollar, in 1903 to two dollars, and in 1907 to four dollars. In 1909 the immigrant fund was abolished, and the headtax receipts were dumped into the Treasury, the regulation of immigration being forced to depend upon such annual allowances as Congress saw fit to make. The $10,000,000 balance belongs to the immigrants, and even if their need were less bitter, it would still be unfair and dishonest to divert a trust fund from its avowed
object to purposes that were never intended.
The dreadful European conflict will not have been without its service if the United States, alarmed by the persistence of the hyphen in American life, adopts an immigration policy that in its essence will be a policy of hope, justice, aspiration, and progress for all the oppressed and unhappy, whether they be native-born or strangers within the gates.1
1 (The illustrations accompanying this article are reprinted from THE CENTURY for