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REPORT OF BUREAU OF INDUSTRIES AND IMMIGRATION
Hon. JAMES M. Lynch, Commissioner of Labor:
SIR.— I have the honor to submit the report of the Bureau of Industries and Immigration for the fiscal year ended September 30, 1914.
While the alien population in this State is scattered throughout various communities, the humanitarian work of the Bureau centers largely at and around the port of New York because in that city, with its huge shipping and transportation facilities and unusual traffic conditions ; its immigrant hotels, lodging houses, labor exchanges, steamship ticket agencies, employment agencies, real estate schemes; and with the runners, porters, guides, hackmen, expressmen, confidence men and their following devoting their energies largely to defrauding the unwary immigrant of all his earthly possessions, the need of the unfortunate victim is greatest.
GENERAL SURVEY To properly chart these activities would require a circle every sector of which would illustrate some defrauding device. Is it to be wondered then that many discouraged immigrants, after having been robbed and betrayed by unscrupulous persons, focus their attention upon saving a sufficient competence to return to their native lands instead of developing into American citizens ? There is no doubt that these unfortunate experiences are primarily responsible for the excessive number of unnaturalized aliens in this State and country.
From the moment the prospective immigrant purchases his steamship transportation in his home town in Europe, he is subjected to a system of cunningly devised extortion that extends to all parts of the United States, in many instances ending in the extreme West when after his arrival in New York some crafty agent has sold him a strip of barren waste miles from any human habitation, with no water available and no house or other shelter; a place where he cannot live, and which in his penniless condition he cannot leave.
OVERCHARGES ON RAILROAD TICKETS Before leaving his own country the destination of the immigrant is almost invariably settled. An immigrant arriving at Ellis Island either holds a through railway order issued by the steamship company abroad or he purchases his railway ticket on his arrival at this port. He has at any rate a destination.
In the case of the well-to-do second-class passenger, the steamship agent abroad does not explain to him when purchasing his ticket that there is no “third class” railway transportation in this country as it is understood in Europe; consequently the alien on his arrival discovers that he has purchased an order for a form of transportation covering accommodation only on an immigrant way train, leaving via Ellis Island. Not wishing to take this additional trip all second-class passengers being released on the docks, he applies to the steamship agent to exchange this prepaid order for a first-class ticket to his destination. The exchange is made upon payment of a sum of money which, when added to the original cost of the transportation orders is much in excess of the regular first-class rate, as shown by the following examples:
(1) OVERCHARGE TO CHICAGO
being duly sworn, deposes and says: That I am employed on a farm at Joliet, In. That at Liverpool, England, I paid for passage on S. S.
Line, and was charged £3.2.6. for an order for railroad ticket, third class, from New York to Chicago, Ill. That I arrived here on S. S.
Line. That at the office of the
Line the order for said railroad ticket was exchanged for order No.
an order for passage on R. R., and on face of said order was marked fare $19.10. This order was in turn exchanged for first class railroad ticket No.
Form No. R. R. from New York to Chicago.
was met at the steamer by a friend from Chicago. The latter purchased a ticket on the
R. R. to Chicago, and paid therefor $19.10. The former following, presented his order for exchange from third class to first class, on which the amount of fare was marked $19.10. Instead of re ceiving his ticket for this amount, an excess charge of $5.60 was demanded by the agent, and paid by him, making a total rate of $20.60 for a ticket on the same train, and for identically the same accommodation, that his friend had just purchased for $19.10.
In the following case the excess rate was actually paid by a special investigator attached to this Bureau:
(2) OVERCHARGE TO ROCKFORD, ILLINOIS Norwegian,
Avenue, New York City, being duly sworn, deposes and says: That at Christiania I bought steamship ticket for passage on S. S.
Line, and paid $16.70 for an order for railroad ticket, third class, from New York to Rockford, Ill. I arrived here on S. S.
Line. At port of entry said order for railroad ticket could be exchanged for first class railroad ticket upon payment of $5.77, which sum I refused to pay.
On this case a Bureau investigator reported as follows:
and was in possession of a third class railroad fare of the said
Line, and wished to have the same exchanged for a first class ticket. He was approached by the
passenger agent, who offered to exchange his third class ticket for a first class railroad ticket on payment of $5.77.
refused to pay that amount, and he was advised to go to Ellis Island. Accompanied by
members of the Bureau staff, we went to the office of the
street, New York City, and exchanged the third class order, together with a 10 kronen note ($2.50 U. S. currency), and a $5 bill, and requested that the same be exchanged for a first class ticket on the
railroad. The amount of the exchange demanded and collected by the clerk was $5.77, making an overcharge of $1.67. The railroad fare to Rockford, Ill., is $20.80 and the amount paid in Christiania was $16.70.
(3) OVERCHARGE TO ALLEGHANY, PENNSYLVANIA One
English, enroute to Alleghany, Pa., was one of the passengers of the S. S.
arriving at New York recently; his brother of the same place paid to the
Line Steamship Company at Hayesborough, Alleghany, Pa., the sum of $8.00 for a railroad tieket, third (immigrant) class from New York to Pittsburg, Pa. At the dock the order was exchanged for a ticket, and he paid the sum of $1.80, receiving another order No. 866 for the
railroad company for a first class ticket upon which fare was marked $9.00.
He objected to paying this amount, as he was aware that the cost of a first class passage to Pittsburg, Pa., was $9.00, but he did not wish to delay, as he was in a hurry to get his train, and thereupon had to pay the said sum of $1.80 to the agent of the
railroad, making an overcharge of 80 cents.
The foregoing citations are not isolated cases, as this system of overcharging extends to places throughout the United States. The practice appears to be in direct violation of the following provisions