An Immigration Act in 1907 codified and extended previous restrictive legislation and established a commission to evaluate U.S. immigration policy. Commission members from the Senate were Chairman William Paul Dillingham of Vermont (a Republican), Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts (Republican), and Asbury Latimer of South Carolina (Democrat); members from the House of Representatives were Benjamin F. Howell of New Jersey (Republican), William S. Bennet of New York (Republican), and John L. Burnett of Alabama (Democrat); and presidential appointees wereWilliam R. Wheeler, Jeremiah W. Jenks, and Charles P. Neill. On December 5, 1910, a two-volume summary of the commission’s findings was presented to Congress, and early in the following year, the massive 42- volume report was released. The commission’s study concluded that during the 1880s a fundamental change occurred in immigration to the United States. Most who had come under the “old” immigration “mingled freely with . . . native Americans,” and thus were assimilated. The new immigration that had begun around 1883 was marked by an increase in transient, unskilled laborers who flocked to urban enclaves where they resisted assimilation. Recommendations of the committee included
1. new immigration legislation should “look especially to the economic well-being of our people”
2. industry should not be promoted to the detriment of wage levels and conditions of employment
3. a five-year period of deportability for immigrants accused of serious crimes, and a three-year period of deportability for those who become public charges
4. continuation of restrictions on Chinese, Japanese, and Korean immigration
5. further restrictions on unskilled immigrants
6. a literacy test as the best means of restricting immigration
Although there is much of value in the information and statistics gathered by the commission, its conclusions reflect the restrictionist bias of the committee members, who established an artificial dichotomy between “old” and “new” immigrants that obscured many variations from one ethnic group to another. The commission also failed to consider the effect of the recency of immigration, which clearly affected education, achievement, and rate of assimilation.