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"The Need of an Immigration Test" article from the Greenfield Gazette and Courier newspaper
(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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This article is one of many that spoke strongly against the growing number immigrants from what were seen as "less desirable" countries. In particular, many articles argued that immigrants from southern or eastern Europe and Jews were inherently unfit to enter the U.S. This article claims that a literacy test would shut out many from those countries, "a large share" of whom, it asserts, "are absolutely illiterate." Its reasoning is that illiterate immigrants were poorer and would never assimilate. But these claims mask a larger agenda: that all immigrants from these regions (literate or not) are "a pretty indigestible lump," that could never assimilate. These claims have proven to be entirely unfounded, as millions of Americans of Italian, Polish, or any other descent can demonstrate. The bill referred to here requiring a literacy test passed Congress but was vetoed, as had been the 1896 bill. In 1917 Congress did pass a literacy test bill over the veto of President Woodrow Wilson. Bills passed in 1924 and again in 1926 drastically restricted all immigration into the U.S.
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