Summary of Laws Bearing on Mental Inspection of Immigrants.
Congress has endeavored to prevent the entrance of mentally unsound individuals into this country by passing laws, which to date may be summarized as follows:
All aliens afflicted with idiocy, insanity, imbecility, feeblemindedness[superior 1], epilepsy, constitutional psychopathic inferiority, or chronic alcoholism, or who have previously had an attack of insanity are to be excluded. It is also provided that any person not coming under the above classification who is certified to be mentally defective is to be excluded.
The physical and mental examination of arriving immigrants must be made by medical officers of the United States Public Health Service who have had at least two years' experience in the practice of their profession since receiving the degree of doctor of medicine. In case of emergency, when officers of the Public Health Service are not available, civil surgeons who have had not less than four years' professional experience may be employed for this purpose.
The law provides that all aliens shall be examined by not less than two medical officers, at the discretion of the Secretary of Labor, and also that medical officers of the Public Health Service who have had special training in the diagnosis of insanity and mental defects shall be detailed for duty or employed at all ports of entry designated by the Secretary of Labor.
Provision is made for a board of medical officers convened by the Surgeon General, to which an alien certified for insanity or
[footnote text][superior 1] Definitions of these terms will be found in sec. 63 of Regulations Governing the Medical Inspection of Aliens. In the enforcement of the immigration laws "feeble-mindedness" is understood to mean a degree of mental defect above that of the idiot and imbecile, and the word has that meaning in this manual.