May 25th, 1925
FROM THE ARCHIVES:This editorial painted a bleak picture of Irish emigrants to the US in the post-Civil War years. - JOE JOYCEEMIGRATION FROM the Irish Free State is increasing steadily. The quota of Free State immigrants admissible to the United States - 28,567 a year - is virtually complete for the current year [ the quota year ran from July to end June], so that, when emigration to other places is reckoned, it is evident that some thirty thousand persons have left the country during twelve months.
It is neither necessary nor desirable that the Free State should send abroad such large numbers of its citizens. . . . Now the Free State Government is relieved of revolutionary attacks and free to devote energy to the revival of trade and industry, the emigration habit seems to have settled on the race, and the drain of young brains and muscles continues.
Excessive emigration is bad on all scores. The youths who crowd to the ports, eager to escape from a land of which they despair to the untried lands overseas, discourage and unsettle those who remain behind. Moreover, flying in aimless fashion from Ireland, they take no pains to equip themselves for life in the new countries.
In a letter to the 'Irish Times', the United States Bureau of Immigration tells how it often happens that emigrants from our country are refused admission at the American ports on being examined as to their physical condition. Unhappily, the greater number of those who escape rejection on this score are admitted to the land of fabled wealth only to find that they are unfitted by defective education for any but mean and unskilled occupations.
The rugged skill at the plough-shaft which was theirs in Ireland is useless in America unless they become labourers in the mines or at the docks. In the great Western Republic, immigrants from all corners of Europe who have fitted themselves, before leaving the Old World, for good positions in the New, have for their domestic servants the sons and daughters of historic Ireland. In two years' time the Free State quota for admission of immigrants to the United States will be reduced to less than a third of its present figure. The aim of the American Government is to restrict future immigration to those stocks from which the States originally were peopled, and the proportion of early settlers in America from Ireland outside Ulster was small.
America thus will force on the people of the Free State the need to break the habit of headlong flight to the West. For every three unskilled young people who in 1925 find an easy solution of life's problem in booking passages across the Atlantic, two in 1927 will have to give more careful thought to their future fortunes.
They will find that, small as are the opportunities at home for unskilled muscle and untrained brains, the rest of the world has yearly a lessening demand for these. Perhaps, they will settle down to study in the classroom and the technical workshop instead of idling at street corners.