Page:The Green Bag (1889–1914), Volume 25.pdf/313

This page needs to be proofread.


292

The Green Bag

representations that the United States does not desire a more rapid influx of population than we could hope to assimi late successfully. Such restrictions could take the form of an educational or prop erty qualification, of a test of familiarity with our language and institutions, or of an age or other requirement, and our immigration laws could without great difficulty be remodeled in such a way as not to afford Japan or any other power reasonable ground for complaint. The way to exclude Asiatics is by making the immigration laws more stringent, and not by maintaining a rigid naturali zation law and discriminating against aliens ineligible for naturalization. Admiral Mahan, in a recent letter to the London Times, says: "There cannot, of course, be naturalization without immigration, while immigration without the concession of naturaliza tion, though conceivable and possible, is contrary to the genius of American institutions, which as a general proposi tion do not favor inhabitancy without the right of citizenship." Everything cannot be changed at once, and a system in harmony with ideal justice can only gradually be achieved. The most prudent course to adopt, in the Japanese difficulty, would perhaps be to leave the iniquity of the naturali zation law to correct itself in course of time, either by actual amendment or liberalizing judicial construction, and to wait until the opportunity is ripe for the negotiation of a new treaty with Japan, conceding to all Japanese here after admitted to this country the same rights as those enjoyed by aliens of any other nation. International comity calls for a provision no less liberal, and even a far-sighted selfish ness would demand it, because the United States needs on the part of Japan a hospitable attitude toward

American capital and commercial under takings in that country. If a new treaty of this kind were ever negotiated the question would be squarely pre sented to Congress whether the immi gration laws should not be revised to provide for a reasonable and just restric tion on Asiatic immigration. Under the actual circumstances we do not see how President Wilson and his Secretary of State could have done more than they have done to maintain good feeling between the two countries. The President made it entirely plain that the Administration would deeply regret the passage of the Webb law even though the treaty were not violated, and thought such legislation most inexpedient even if its validity could not be questioned. The occasion was not an opportune one for proposing that a more liberal treaty be negotiated if possible or that a revi sion of the immigration and naturali zation laws be urged upon the attention of Congress. Japan thinks that the United States ought to challenge the Webb law in its own courts, instead of leaving the initiation of a test case to Japan, but our Government, for obvious reasons, could not seriously consider such a proposal. The only ground on which the validity of the law could be con tested would be that of violation of the treaty, and the Government would stul tify itself by taking up so extremely dubious a position. The course pur sued a few years ago with reference to the school question, when the federal Government did bring a test case, would not be available because in this instance the nation cannot logically appear as the complainant. Even if the President had wished to do more than he did to appease the pride of Japan, there was nothing more for him to do. The California anti-alien law be speaks a short-sighted nationalism which