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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/446

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words can describe adequately the overcrowding, the filth, the lack of air and sunlight, the ignorance of the common decencies of life and the miserable poverty of the tenement dwellers. The tenement headquarters of the Syrian peddler is crowded from the damp, miserable cellar to the garret with women and children, often a half dozen women, whose husbands are on the road peddling and whose children are in institutions, occupying one small room.

The physique of these races is very poor, and the percentage of loathsome or contagious diseases found among them is very high. During 1903, one Greek out of every thirty landed was sent back as likely to become a public charge. One Syrian out of every 28 was sent back for the same reason, and one Armenian out of every 58 was deemed incapable of making a living and sent back during the same period. In the matter of disease in 1903, one Syrian in every 100 and one Armenian in every 67 were sent back because of loathsome or dangerous contagious disease. One Greek in every 475 Greeks was sent back because of the same disability.

The mental processes of these people have an oriental subtlety. Centuries of subjection, where existence was only possible through intrigue, deceit and servility, have left their mark and, through force of habit, they lie most naturally and by preference, and only tell the truth when it will serve their purpose best. Their wits are sharpened by generations of commercial dealing, and their business acumen is marvelous. With all due admiration for the mental qualities and trading skill of these parasites from the near east, it can not be said that they are anything, in the vocations they follow, but detrimental and burdensome. These people, in addition, because of their miserable physique and tendency to communicable disease, are a distinct menace, in their crowded unsanitary quarters, to the health of the community. In their habits of life, their business methods and their inability to perform labor or become producers, they do not compare favorably even with the Chinese, and the most consoling feature of their coming has been that they form a comparatively small part of our total immigration.

The Greek immigration has shown the most marked increase, but Syrian immigration is also steadily growing, and without restriction, we may expect in the next few years, through the activity of the Mediterranean steamship agents, that many thousands of these human parasites will come here to reap the benefits of our civilization and increase instead of sharing our burdens.