Looking for an illustration for today’s Labor Day Roundup, I found this very early 20th century cartoon about immigration versus labor.
Title: A Crying Need for General Repairs
Publication: The Saturday Globe, Utica, August 27, 1901
Summary: An American Laborer pleads with Uncle Sam to repair the wall of “Immigration Restriction” because its neglect has opened the way for disreputable men to enter the country. An “Employer of Labor” in his top hat and tails happily assists a man wearing a fez as he climbs down the ladder. The image caption reads, “American Labor Calls Uncle Sam’s Attention to the Inefficiency of His Immigration Restriction Wall.”
(Source: Ohio State University. Emphasis added).
I might add that while there are various ethnicities climbing over the wall, the fellow with a dagger between his teeth who has undermined the wall and is crawling through is pretty clearly an Italian member of the Mafia, or “Black Hand,” as it was known at the time.
I found this in a 2019 Trump-bashing, immigrant enthusiast column in by a Korean named Young Kwon:
In his address to the nation on January 8th, President Trump made a case for his border wall that appealed to left values, saying that unauthorized immigration “strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages,” and that “among those hardest hit are African Americans and Hispanic Americans.” The implication of the line is clear: How could the administration be “racist” when its policies are meant to protect socio-economically marginalized minorities? Conservative pundits, and the many Americans who already support the administration’s efforts to curtail immigration, may embrace this new line of argument. Some who identify as part of the political left may even be tempted by it, seeing immigration as undermining native workers’ bargaining power. But this talking point has to be rejected by those who want a dignified, fulfilling life for all.
Invoking the well-being of native workers as an argument against immigration is nothing new. History offers ample examples of elites repeatedly exploiting the supposed conflict between marginalized workers and immigrants.
[Divided and Conquered—How immigration paranoia enables exploitation, by Yong Kwon, Current Affairs, February 6, 2019]
And then he has a lot of stuff about the nineteenth century, in which the actual sufferings of actual American workers due to immigrant displacement is ignored.
My point: The problems caused by immigration in the nineteenth century were huge, real, and led to more than thirty years of worker and immigration patriot agitation until the 1924 Immigration Act was passed and signed by Calvin Coolidge.
In a column written here 22 years ago, I called this The (First) Thirty Years War For Immigration Reform.
That led to the forty year Great Pause in which America won the Second World War without much in the way of immigrant soldiery. The nineteenth and early twentieth century immigration restriction activism was a tremendous success politically and economically—for the country at large and, of course, for the American workingman.
With a little luck and perseverance, the same kind of activism—of the kind that won the 2016 Presidential election—can work in the early twenty-first century, and lead to more happy Labor Days, once the Biden Rush is a thing of the past.
Happy Labor Day from VDARE.com!
Previous Labor Day coverage, back to 2001.