William Henry Wilkins
Library of Alexandria
The Alien Invasion by William Henry Wilkins Summary
I have been asked to write a short preface to a work in which the author proposes to afford the public information with respect to the immigration of destitute aliens into this country. He will discuss the evil incident to an immigration that is practically uncontrolled; and he will suggest the lines in which, in his opinion, remedial legislation should be promoted. The subject is one of very great importance, and I am confident it will be approached by the writer in a dispassionate spirit. He must know that he will fail of his object unless it is perfectly clear he is not influenced by any prejudice against the race to which the greater part of the destitute immigrants are known to belong. He will make it abundantly clear there is no desire or intention to forbid the man who is persecuted, either for his religious creed or his political opinions, from finding an asylum among us. It is the opinion of many who have given to this subject much consideration, that the destitute foreigners who come to England in such numbers exchange into a condition that is hardly less tolerable, than that from which they have fled in the lands of their birth. It is said they exercise an influence that is morally and socially to the hurt of those among whom they come to dwell. It is contended that they injuriously compete with our own people in the labour market. It is often urged that they compel our people to seek a home and employment in other lands, because of the glut they cause in the labour market, and because of their readiness to accept wages and to be content withconditions of living which are unacceptable, and something more than merely unacceptable, to the Englishman. These allegations require to be investigated. It is important to ascertain what the number of foreign immigrants really is, and what is their condition when they land among us. It is desirable we should know what provision is made, if any, for their reception, and what becomes of the men, women, and children, who are said to arrive in London in large numbers, and for the most part absolutely destitute. Is overcrowding, with its consequent miseries and ills, appreciably increased in the East End of London? These are questions on which the public ought to be informed, and the guardians of the health, and morals, and general well-being of the people must desire to be enlightened on these matters. If the evils that are said to be the results of the immigration of destitute aliens are found to exist, it will be for our legislators to devise in their wisdom the appropriate remedy. I will only venture to express one opinion with reference to this difficult and intricate subject.