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in America must in some way “get ahead" if they are to find the fullest measure of happiness and satisfaction in their new home. If they can be protected from the sharper, a great step forward will be made. They must, however, also be taught the ways in which best to invest their savings.
In every foreign district in America men both of foreign and native birth, but especially the former, have rented stores and painted the word “bank” on the window. They have then invited the people, particularly those of their own race, to deposit their money with them. The claim has been made that many of these “ banks” duct definite campaigns to create distrust of American banks in the minds of the new Americans. They offer to forward savings to the banks in the old country, and there is no doubt that many millions of dollars are taken out of circulation in America for deposit in foreign banks. The postal savings department of this Government has reduced this outflow to a considerable extent, but there are many regulations in the conduct of the postal savings banks which prevent the foreign born from using them as they should be used.
Many of the private “ banks“ undoubtedly do an honest business, and not a few perforni service of great value to the foreign born in advising them and lending them assistance in their financial affairs. Communities, however, should take steps to see that these “ banks” come under the supervision of the banking authorities. They should by no means be legislated out of existence, at least until other agencies of equal value are provided to render the same service.
The immigrant patronizes the racial or immigrant bank mainly because his language need is not met by the American banks. In normal times enormous sums, running into the hundreds of millions, are annually sent to foreign countries for saving and investment as well as for the support of dependents. The large contributions which the foreign born have made in the different campaigns for the Liberty loan are conclusive proof that if approached by their own racial leaders. or by Americans in the proper fraternal spirit. they will invest their savings in America rather than in their native country.
How many of the distinguished banks in your city carry the foreign born's savings and investments, or have interpreting facilities to make it possible to do so, or are open at hours when workmen can go to theni?
Without encouragement from American banks, the foreign born hare usually done one of three things with their money: They have sent it abro:ul through their fellow-countryman, the notary or the padrone or steamship agent (who does not always transmit it); or they have put it with the “private banker," who has not always been under State banking laws; or they carry it around from job to job.?
1 An, Rept. Bu, of Immigration, Mass. 1 Esther Everett Lape.
In the very nature of the relations existing between the immigrant and his former home, there will always be large amounts of money transferred to the old country. Much of it will go to maintain parents whom the immigrant can not bring to America. Some will always go to be invested in the native land. Whether this is entirely an evil is a question for economists to solve. It may be well for community workers to consider another side of this matter before taking any radical steps to curb the forwarding of funds.
In this case, however, there is also the firm, economic justification for our readily accepting the practice of foreigners in sending their money abroad. This money can only go over in one of two ways-either it goes over in the form of gold or goes in the form of credits, which are ultimately paid by export of goods from this country. Our feeling about the undesirability of the foreigners sending their savings abroad is nothing but a relic of the old mercantile notion that it was a desirable thing for the t'nited States to pile up gold within its own borders, which is, of course, thoroughly discredited by modern economie thinkers.
When the foreigner sends his money abroad he either tends to reduce the supply of gold in this country, which in itself is sometimes an advantage, inasmuch as it tends to keep the price level from rising, or else he establishes credits in foreign countries, which results in the increase of exports of goods from our own country, and either one of these things is an advantage."
The really vast amounts contributed to the financing of the war by the foreign born through the Liberty Loans and the War Savings Stamps gives some indication of the possibilities of saving among them. Community workers can perform few tasks of more value than that of providing for their foreign born some method of systematically investing their savings in ways equally as safe and convenient as the Liberty Loan plans. Great numbers of the foreign born have been given the habit of coming regularly to our banks with their Liberty Loan payments. This habit must be maintained, if possible.
The foreign born are naturally thrifty. Actual ways of saving need to be taught here less than among our careless native born. Too often among the foreign born
Saving money becomes at once the job and the recreation. The women and children sell wood or do something else to help it along. The family lives on incredibly small sums in order that the hoard may grow faster. This is what Theodore Roosevelt had in mind when he said that one of the big tasks of Americanization was showing the foreign-born family that in America they must not live on $2.50 a month, because in America that is not living at all.
I always hear with some apprehension, therefore, the propaganda about " thrift campaigns” among the foreign born. Many foreign born, like many Americans, doubtless need it. But sometimes they need, rather, to learn good American spending. There are Polish women in the stockyards who can not be persuaded to take enough from their savings to buy the children's shoes, There are mothers who, obsessed with saving, put their children into day nurseries too soon in order that they may join their husbands in the factory; or
1 H. P. Fairchild, in Conference Proceedings.
who evade the compulsory-school laws and put the children to work too early. A combination of only earning and saving conjures up a very dreary picture of family Americanization.'
In this unwise saving the native born have too often encouraged their foreign-born brothers in order that something might be sold them at a profit. We have urged them to buy properties beyond their means, thus forcing them to live on a scale un-American in its meanness. A public sentiment can be created in a community which will greatly lessen such imposition.
At first the landlords of these newcomers are, of course, native Americans. Their interest is usually purely financial. They differentiate among the various alien nationalities chiefly on the ground of promptness in meeting payments. There are middle-western capitalists who speak with enthusiasm of the Poles as borrowers; there are New England bankers who grow eloquent on the marvelous ability of the Italians to buy a three-decker on a shoe string and pay off the mortgage in an incredibly small number of years. They never think how these admirable debtors are living. They never inquire whether the Pole's children go to school or go to work just as soon as the law allows. They never ask how many families from his native village the thrifty Italian has crowded into his wooden three-decker. Those are their debtor's affairs and of no interest to them so long as payments are made on the nail.”
His unfamiliarity with the language naturally places the foreign born at a disadvantage in securing and retaining employment. Some industries are making rules against the employment and even the retention of workers who can not understand the English language. At first glance this rule might seem to make for Americanization. As a matter of fact, however, it makes for injustice, for society has as yet provided no general facilities whereby the foreign born can study the language. To discharge them from their positions for failing to learn that which we ourselves have not given them the opportunity to learn is futile and unjust. If all industries were to issue an announcement that after a certain date—say 6 or 8 years from now—they would employ only English-speaking people, undoubtedly a great impetus would be given to the study of English. But even such action ought not to be taken until the States and the Nation have first made easily available to every person the facilities for the study of the language.
In the meantime and until we ourselves have performed what is so plainly our manifest duty, the foreign born must be given employment. They must not only be given an equal chance, but it is a question whether justice does not demand that their weakness be met
i Esther Everett Lape.
by exceptionally favorable treatment, as one would favor an employee who lacked an arm or a leg.
Get in your own heart, if you please, in the first place, some sympathy with that man who is in a foreign land. Let the best of your nature come out, the tolerant part, the kindly part. If you are an employer give him opportunity that you would not give to others. Deal with him not as one whose labor you buy, but as a human soul, and we can transform that man before a generation has passed.
There is only one way to translate yourself to him and that is by your conduct to the foreigner who is here—by translating America into square dealing, into justice, into kindliness."
If community workers will create such an advisory bureau as has heretofore been described, great assistance can undoubtedly be rendered to the foreign born in the matter of employment. Such a bureau can act as “ the next friend” of the foreign born before the Federal, State, and municipal employment bureaus. Such a bureau can make something of a study, if it will, of the abilities of each applicant. Hands capable of producing the most exquisite embroidery have been found scrubbing floors in office buildings because there was no way provided through which they might be placed at their proper work. The foreign born, driven by immediate necessity, drift into the first occupation which offers itself, regardless of the abilities they possess for valuable creative work in some special activity.
One night, in New York City, at a local draft board last year, I watched a long line of Sicilians. Every one of them had migrated from the same small village, Sciacca. They all now lived on Elizabeth Street, and they were all fish peddlers. One of them had been directed to that occupation, and the rest had followed him. In this case it was natural enough, since Sciacca is a sea village. But in another American community 17 men out of one small racial group became scissors grinders, though no one of them had had in the old country a job even faintly resembling scissors grinding. A little information about jobs would change many careers."
Particularly in the matter of placing the immigrant upon the land can the community committee be helpful. Whether this be a place where he may satisfy his craving for cultivation by raising his own vegetables or whether it be upon a place large enough to earn his whole living matters not. A large portion of our new Americans were raised upon the land and know no other trade.
Nothing ties a foreign-born workman to a town or a job so much as a house to live in and a truck patch to work. It is a wholly American illusion that the foreign born love shacks and barracks and boarders. Many of them buy lots at the first opportunity, but they have not the money to build houses except on really easy terms.
We have kept the old country peasant in the coast State factory, although he wants to farm and although America needs his peasant faculty upon our
1 Franklin K. Lane.
western lands awaiting development, upon our " abandonedl farms" in New England and elsewhere, and even in the desert places. Millions of our foreignborn “industrials” in mill and foundry are country born and bred. They understand farming. They go at it with the sturdy patience and submission born of generations that do not expect to get their living in any other way. They know the careful, close methods of agriculture that could be grafted to admirable advantage upon the lavish, careless, wisteful American methods of cultivation,
The “conquest " of the waste places of America will never be altogether a matter of huge irrigation projects or solar motors or whatever the successful device may be. It must be also a matter of that human labor and patience which, in high degree, so many foreign born bring. When we have really learned to distribute the foreign born to the land, the food problem of the world will be nearer solution than it now is.'
There is a great fiell of usefulness for community committees in creating among the foreign born a desire for naturalization. They can assist the judges and examiners in many ways. They can lessen the burden of the process by having the rules adapted to local conditions. They can add greatly to the honor and dignity of the ceremony by holding receptions or public programs, at which the new citizen is presented with his papers or with some insignia of his new status. These ceremonies should include not only the wives of the new citizens, who automatically become citizens through the naturalization of the husband, but they may well include those young men and women, native or foreign born, who by reason of having become of age have acquired citizenship.
Such a ceremony may well be held twice each year, or at least annually. Many communities have adopted the permanent plan of holding a public reception, with suitable ceremonies, to all new citizens on the Fourth of July. Heretofore the foreign born have taken out their citizenship papers with the same lack of ceremony that accompanies the issue of a dog license,' while our own native boys and girls have drifted unnoticed into the great honor of citizenship.
Campaigns for “100 per cent naturalization” and similar drives should be discountenanced. It should be perfectly obvious that forced or overstimulated naturalization can result, as a rule, only in mere lip service and in men who are citizens in name only.
Do we wish him to obtain citizenship and to make the hest of it? Then show him the best side of citizenship-its privileges, its opportunities, and its possibilities for good. Make the act of naturalization a holy act and the day one to be remembered. Make his concept of citizenship a practical one. it upon neighborhood improvement, home development, chill protection. communal organization."
1 Esther Everett Lape.