Commenter FredR points to 1914 book by Edward Alsworth Ross entitled The Old World in the New: The Significance of Past and Present Immigration
in which an old-fashioned Progressive makes some predictions about the long-term impact of the mass unskilled immigration that was eventually moderated in the 1920s. It’s interesting to compare the effects he was observing to America in 2015:
The continuance of depressive immigration will lead to nothing catastrophic. Riots and labor strife will oftener break out
Labor strife seems to have diminished sharply: the war between management and workers is over. Management won.
but the country will certainly not weaken nor collapse. Of patriotism of the military type there will be no lack. Scientific and technical advance will go on the same. The spread of business organization and efficiency will continue. The only thing that will happen will be a mysterious slackening in social progress. The mass will give signs of sluggishness, and the social procession will be strung out.We are engaged in a generous rivalry with the West Europeans and the Australians to see which can do the most to lift the plane of life of the masses. Presently we shall be dismayed by the sense of falling behind. We shall be amazed to find the Swiss or the Danes or the New Zealanders making strides we cannot match. Stung with mortification at losing our erstwhile lead in the advancement of the common people, we shall cast about for someone to blame. Ultimate causes, of course, will be overlooked; only proximate causes will be noticed. There will be a loud outcry that mothers, or teachers, or clergymen, or editors, or social workers are not doing their duty.
Our public schools, solely responsible as they obviously are for the intellectual and moral characteristics of the people, will be roundly denounced; and it will be argued that church schools must take their place.
Just change “church schools” to “charter schools.”
There will be trying of this and trying of that, together with much ingenious legislation. As peasantism spreads and inertia proves unconquerable, the opinion will grow that the old American faith in the capacity and desire of the common people for improvement was a delusion, and that only the superior classes care for progress. Not until the twenty-first century will the philosophic historian be able to declare with scientific certitude that the cause of the mysterious decline that came upon the American people early in the twentieth century was the deterioration of popular intelligence by the admission of great numbers of backward immigrants.