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“To Drive Anarchists Out of the Country,” from the New York Times (March 4, 1908)

In line with some of our other recent material from the anti-immigrant and anti-Anarchist panic of the 19-aughts, here is a long front-page story from the New York Times in 1908, in which the Times declared that The United States has declared open war on Anarchists. The form that the war would take was a mass crackdown on immigrants — one of the first major immigration enforcement actions in United States history — in order to round up and deport Anarchists with radical political beliefs.


Secretary Straus Orders Immigration Men to Co-operate with Police in Locating Criminals.


Added Precautions to be Taken in Excluding Aliens–Three Assassinations Were Plotted in Chicago.

Special to The New York Times.

WASHINGTON, March 3.–The United States has declared open war on Anarchists. As a result of the great increase in crime and the growing boldness of those who are enlisted under the red flag, Commissioners of Immigration and immigrant Inspectors have been instructed by Secretary Straus of the Department of Commerce and Labor to ally themselves with the police and detectives of the cities and aid in putting an end to terrorism. The order was issued to-day, and is said to have the hearty indorsement of President Roosevelt.

Secretary Straus orders that the immigration authorities shall take steps necessary to securing the co-operation of the police and detective forces in an effort to rid the country of alien Anarchists and criminals falling within the law relating to deportation.

Secretary Straus’s Order.

The order of Secretary Straus follows:

To all Commissioners of Immigration and Immigrant Inspectors in charge: It is hereby directed that, with a view to promptly obtaining definite information with regard to alien Anarchists and criminals located in the Untied States, you shall confer fully with the Chief of Police or the Chief of the Secret Service of the city in which you are located, furnishing such official with detailed information with regard to the inhibition of that statute against aliens of the criminal classes, explaining the powers and limitations imposed by said statute upon the immigration officials with respect to such persons.

You should call to the attention of the Chief of Police or Chief of the Secret Service the definition of Anarchist contained in Sections 2 and 38 of the act of Feb. 20, 1907, and the provisions of Section 2 placing within the excluded classes persons who have been convicted of or admit having committed a felony or other crime or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude, pointing out that if any such person is found within the United States within three years after landing or entry therein he is amenable to deportation under the provisions of Section 21 of said act.

The co-operation of said officials should be requested, making it clear that in order that any particular Anarchist or criminal may be deported, evidence must be furnished showing (1) that the person in question is an alien subject to the immigration acts; (2) that he is an Anarchist or criminal as defined in the statute; (3) the date of his arrival in the United States, which must be within three years of the date of his arrest; (4) the name of the vessel or of the transportation line by which he came, if possible, and (5) the name of the country whence he came, the details with respect to the last three items being kept at the various ports of entry in such a manner as to be available if information is furnished with respect to the Anarchist’s name, the date of his arrival, and the port of entry.

It is desired that the above indicated steps shall be taken at once and that no proper effort shall be spared to secure and retain the co-operation of the local police and detective forces in an effort to rid the country of alien Anarchists and criminals falling within the provisions of the statute relating to deportation.

Uneasy Over Anarchy’s Spread.

The Administration has viewed with increasing uneasiness the spread of Anarchy and Socialistic teachings. The threats made against citizens of wealth and position are becoming more numerous with every month. The attempt to kill the Chief of Police of Chicago, the riot in Philadelphia following the dispersal of an Anarchistic meeting, and the threats made against clergymen have brought the Government to a realization that something must be done to make life and property more secure.

With the activity of the immigration authorities and the police in running down criminals in the United States, there will be taken added precautions against admitting to the country any more of the same class. The examination of the hordes of aliens that come yearly to these shores will be made so severe that it will in the future partake of the nature of an inquisition. The Government is beginning to realize that it has been employing too lax methods in the past.

A case in point, they say, is the presence in this country of Emma Goldman. This woman is declared to be a firebrand and an Anarchist of the most rabid type. She went abroad some months ago, and at that time it was openly stated that she would not be readmitted to the country. In spite of these declarations Miss Goldman is back again in the United States spreading the propaganda of revolutionary Socialism.

It is cases such as these, in the opinion of officials, that lend encouragement to the vicious element. The laws, in the first place, are held to be too lenient, and secondly, they are not administered with the severity the situation demands. More stringent laws, coupled with emphatic application of them, are said to be the crying need of the time.

As the law now stands, an Anarchist may go about unmolested by the police after he has spent three years in this country and has not been connected with the perpetration of a crime in that time. He is immune from deportation. It does not matter whether the criminal is a citizen or not, he can legally resist all efforts to return him to the country from whence he came.

Possible to Exclude Anarchists.

It is possible, however, under the existing law to exclude Anarchists. The law declares that, among others, there may be excluded from the country anarchists, or persons who believe in or advocate the overthrow by force or violence of the Government of the United States or of all government or of all forms of law, or the assassination of public officials.

Section 20 of the Immigration act, which covers the exclusion of aliens, provides: That any alien who shall enter the United States in violation of the law shall, upon the warrant of the Secretary of Commerce and Labor, be taken into custody and deported to the country whence he came at any time within three years after the date of his entry into the United States.

Section 21 provides that in case the Secretary of Commerce and Labor shall be satisfied that an alien has been found in the United States in violation of this act, or that an alien is subject to deportation under any law of the United States, he shall cause such alien within the period of three years after landing to be taken into custody and returned to the country whence he came.

This makes it mandatory upon the Secretary to deport any alien Anarchist whom he may discover who has not been in the country three years.

General Enemies of Society.

In addition to these provisions, which ordinarily would cover the case of an Anarchist, a separate section dealing with enemies of society generally was included in the act. Section 38 says:

That no person who believes in or who is opposed to all organized government, or who is a member of or affiliated with any organization entertaining and teaching such disbelief in or opposition to all organized government, or who advocates or teaches the duty, necessity, or propriety of the unlawful assaulting or killing of any officer or officers, whether of specific individuals or of officers generally, of the Government of the United States, or of any other organized government, because of his or their official character, shall be permitted to enter the United States or any territory or place subject to the jurisdiction thereof.

This section shall be enforced by the Secretary of Commerce and Labor under such rules and regulations as he shall prescribe. That any person who knowingly aids or assists any such person to enter the United States or any territory or place subject to the jurisdiction thereof, or who connives or conspires with any such person or persons to allow, procure, or permit any such person to enter therein, except pursuant to such rules and regulations made by the Secretary of Commerce and Labor shall be fined not more than $5,000, or imprisoned for not more than five years, or both.

The New York Times, March 4, 1908, pp. 1-2.

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