No Beggar Spirit
No Beggar Spirit
This chapter shows how social workers saw European immigrants as culturally inept but nonetheless imagined them as “objects of reform” and so included them in their early social welfare efforts. Moreover, they became their defenders before a sometimes hostile public. They refuted assertions that southeastern European immigrants were paupers and worked to forge a competing construction, marshaling “evidence” to prove that the new immigrants were hardworking, thrifty, sober, and self-sufficient. Part of their confidence in these immigrants rested on their firm conviction that southern and eastern Europeans were capable of economic and racial assimilation. Indeed, looking around, they would have found much evidence confirming these beliefs: from high naturalization rates to growing socioeconomic mobility, all facilitated by the racial, labor, and political context in which these immigrants lived. Social workers then lobbied against national origin quotas and tried to protect European immigrants from harsh immigration and deportation laws.
Keywords: European immigrants, social workers, social welfare, economic assimilation, racial assimilation, naturalization, socioeconomic mobility, immigration laws, deportation laws, national origin quotas
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