California lawmaker says people demand anti-alien land law

April 21 1913
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SACRAMENTO, Calif., April 21, 1913 (UP) - California's position on the pending antialien land legislation is clearly set forth in a statement given to the United Press today by Senator Ernest S. Birdsall of Placer-co, who helped frame and who introduced the senate committee's substitute bill. This proposed act is now ready for final action, a similar measure already having passed the lower house of the California legislature.

By SENATOR E.S. BIRDSALL

After years of delay in undertaking this problem of land ownership by unassimilable aliens for reasons of expediency, with the same excuses for inaction offered by succeeding legislatures, the people of California have become impatient of diplomacy and world politics, and are no longer to be denied in their imperative demand.

It is not the so-called "jingo" element that is back of this antialien land legislation, but first of all the farmer. Either he will get relief through his legislative representative or the question will be decided directly by the initiative. If the antialien land law went to the people, it would pass by a vote of 3 to 1.

The two big propositions involved are these:

First - Have we the right to enact such legislation? If we have not then the act would be automatically offset by the constitution and existing treaty rights.

Second - Is this a demand by the whole people of California? The most conclusive answer is the overwhelming vote by which the alien land law passed the assembly. The question in the senate now is, do the people want the committee substitute as now drafted, or do they want it amended to exclude European capital?

This is not a hysterical outburst against the Japanese or any other alien people by California. It is the cool determination of American citizens of the west coast to prevent the encroachment of a race problem and for the maintenance of their own economic standards.

Prevent the Japanese and other nonassimilable aliens from acquiring land which they are now doing to an alarming degree, or face a competition with "the squat" labor on the adjoining quarter section that means economic retrogression.

The problem is bound to come up every two years hence unless settled now, and during every one of these intervals the alien is acquiring a larger circle of land.

Delay but makes the situation more serious. The antagonistic feeling which this may inspire between the two nations is bound to become more intense as the interests at stake become more extended.

I am for antialien land ownership today because I am not willing to procrastinate and say "after us the deluge." I know that the majority of the members of the California legislature feel the same way.

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