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MEXICAN LABORERS

JANUARY 26, 27, 28, 30, AND FEBRUARY 2, 1920

Statements concerning shortage of labor in the cotton-growing industry
Texas and Arizona; shortage of labor in beet-sugar industry in ten
tates, with discussions as to agricultural and other labor shortage in vari-
us parts of the United States and Hawaii. Also discussions of racial
roblems; negro labor; restriction of immigration; labor unrest; present
ethods of naturalization, etc.

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TEMPORARY ADMISSION OF ILLITERATE MEXICAN

LABORERS.

COMMITTEE ON IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION,

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Monday, January 26, 1920.

The committee met at 10.30 o'clock a. m., Hon. Albert Johnson (chairman) presiding.

The CHAIRMAN. This hearing is for the purpose of considering H. J. Res. 271, introduced by Mr. Hudspeth, of Texas, on January 6, 1920, a resolution suspending the operation of certain provisions of the immigration act relating to alien contract laborers and illiterate aliens, which is said to be necessary on account of the shortage of labor in Texas.

Before we hear Mr. Hudspeth, the author, we will hear Mr. Garner, who I understand has another engagement.

STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN N. GARNER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS.

Mr. GARNER. I do not know that I care to be heard other than to express general interest in the legislation of the district I have the honor to represent. The Ways and Means Committee has a session this morning at which the Secretary of the Treasury will explain some matters we have been considering for a week or more and which I feel it is important for me to attend.

The territory that composes the fifteenth district is along the border of Mexico and of course we are more particularly interested in this subject than the ordinary congressional district in Texas and especially in other States of the Union, and therefore I might be able to give the committee some information that other Members of the House might not possess. I want to say in the beginning though, Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, that I would not support this resolution or any other legislation that had for its purpose the depreciation in any degree of the Americanization of this country from the foreign standpoint. However much the district I represent might be interested and might be temporarily benefited, I would not sacrifice in the slightest degree the welfare of the entire Union for the temporary service that might be rendered. the people I represent. I believe, however, that a proper administration of this proposed law by the Labor Department would not in any particular endanger the welfare of the Union in that degree that it would bring into this country citizens that are likely to deteriorate the general average of the country. I do not mean to say by that, Mr. Chairman, that the character of the people that would

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come in under this resolution are particularly desirable citizens; I won't make that statement, but I do make this statement, that the people that would come in under this resolution, in my opinion, 80 per cent of them will return to Mexico.

That seems probably a strange statement compared with the immigration through the cities of New York, Seattle, Galveston, or other points. But the character of labor that is likely to come in under this resolution, and, in fact, has been coming in under the rules and regulations made by the Department of Labor, with which you are probably familiar, is the character of labor that is very poor, known as peon labor in Mexico; it is a family composed, we will say, of five persons-a man, his wife, and three children. They have absolutely nothing. When I say "absolutely nothing," it is literally true. For instance, they will start for this country from Mexico with a burro, a two-wheel cart and, as one of my friends said this morning, a dog, and probably not a dollar or more than 10 or 15 cents in their possession. They come across for the purpose of picking cotton or grubbing land. Those are two occupations that they are particularly well fitted for at the wages that they secure.

I believe I am within the bounds of truth when I say that the Mexican man is a superior laborer when it comes to grubbing land of the character we have to clean up in our country and put in cultivation. You gentlemen who have not been there probably will realize the situation when I tell you our country is covered with a small scrubby growth of timber, and in order to prepare it for the plow you have to grub it out by the roots, and this Mexican labor is particularly efficient in that line of work. And I may add that the prices that they charge are much less than the same labor would be from either the negro or the white man and for the same time they do, I think it is safe to say, a third more they produce a third more results from their labor than either the negro or white man would do. And the large portion of this labor is used in preparing the lands in that southwestern country for cultivation. The other portion comes in when we are harvesting the crops, such as cotton and the gathering of maize and other crops that we produce in that territory.

These gentlemen who are here can give you the details of the working of this matter better than I can, because there are men here who have had the experience in bringing this labor across, and I do not want to take up too much of your time.

The CHAIRMAN. The committee intends to make full inquiry as to conditions, the labor demand, the pay, and all details.

Mr. GARNER. What I want the committee to do is to investigate, with a view of ascertaining the facts as to the dangerous kind of labor that might come in. I know the questions in the minds of many Members of Congress, directed to the Americanization of the foreigners in this country, and your desire not to have any more come in so that the burden will not become any greater on the American people in Americanizing those gentlemen; but I want to impress on the committee the idea that, in my opinion, if this proposed law was properly administered and properly guarded along the border, there would be an infinitesimal chance of bringing in citizens that might cause either social or economic unrest in this country.

The CHAIRMAN. But the point comes up right away, in the consideration of this resolution 271, proposing special relief for the cotton growers and other growers, along the Texas border, as to whether that should be followed by consideration of another resolution, which is on the committee's calendar, for the relief of the Hawaiian Islands by the admission of Chinese labor-a shortage of labor existing there.

Mr. GARNER. Mr. Chairman, I am compelled to admit that this legislation is sought in the interest of a special section of the country and a special character of its citizenship. That special section of the country is composed of the territory bordering Mexico. I am sure. I am within the bounds of truth when I say that 80 per cent of the labor, at least 80 per cent of the labor, that would come across the border under these rules and regulations would return to Mexico and, out of the remaining 20 per cent, I do not believe 2 per cent would ever get out of Texas-speaking now of Texas alone along the border-not more than 2 per cent of the 20 per cent will ever get out of Texas.

I realized the force of the argument that Congress ought not to be called upon to legislate for a special section of the country; neither ought it be called upon to legislate for a special class of people. You know very well (those who have been with me in Congress for some time) that I am opposed to class legislation, as you have heard me declare myself on the floor of the House more than once.

Mr. SIEGEL. However, the people of the East are suffering from a lack of serving girls, and every member of the House from the eastern part of the United States is being urged to get special legislation. through allowing them to come in.

Mr. GARNER. Yes.

Mr. SIEGEL. And the way the law is being administered now they are sending all these girls back because they can not pass the literacy test, and the people are demanding a suspension of the test. Don't you think there is just as much justice in that demand as there is in this demand?

Mr. GARNER. In reply to that I would say that that is, of course, a matter we are not familiar with, because we are not particularly disturbed with that down in our country; we do our own work largely down there in our section of the country. But I want to call your attention to this, that this proposed legislation will benefit the entire Union.

Mr. SIEGEL. So would the other.

Mr. GARNER. Probably so. I realize there are various angles to this proposition of admitting people into the United States for the various purposes. This proposition has for its purpose the increase of production of the food products of this country as well as articles for clothing. This proposed legislation, in my judgment, will increase the production in the territory that I represent probably 50 per cent. I think I am within the bounds of reason when I say that if you do not permit the people to utilize the Mexican labor that comes here for temporary purposes that it will result in a decreased production of 50 per cent in our territory. Is that correct?

Mr. CLARKSON. More than that.

Mr. GARNER. I think I am within the bounds of reason when I say that the result of the continued admission of this labor will in

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