Washington (Apr. 19)
The Sterling amendment, directly aimed to cut off Jewish immigration by requiring the quotas to be alloted to different racial groups within each foreign country proportionately, was overwhelmingly defeated by the Senate yesterday, although no record vote was taken.
The decisive defeat of this measure was accomplished mainly by the last minute change of attitude toward the amendment by Senator Reed of Pennsylvania, who had originally promised Senator Sterling that he would support him. Senator Reed, in explaining his changed stand, gives little comfort to the Jews. After Sterling had declared that the Pennsylvania Senator supported his amendment, Reed, in taking the floor to deny this, admitted that originally he had approved the amendment. He did not base his reversal on the discriminatory feature of the amendment, but stated “My only apprehension is that it is unworkable.”
In a fuller statement later, he added “My objection does not lie to the idea of the Senator from South Dakota. I think his idea would be fine if it could be worked out.” He then explained the practical difficulty that would be attendant upon an investigation of the racial groups in foreign countries, and the determination of the race of each immigrant.
The Senate bill, as adopted, differs from the House bill in only three important respects: The 2% of 1890 under the Senate bill only stays in effect until July 1, 1927, when Reed’s national origins plan goes into operation. Under the first plan about 162,000 will be admissible per year, which will be reduced to 150,000 per year by the national origins basis. The second important point of difference is that the Senate bill contains no exemption of certain relatives of citizens, which is provided by the House bill. This exemption would have enabled the admission of thousands of additional immigrants over and above the quota. number. The third difference is the adoption yesterday by the Senate of Senator Simmons’, North Carolina, amendment to give preference up to one-fourth of each countries quota to agricultural laborers. This will, of course, reduce to that extent the number of non-agricultural immigrate affecting mostly the Jews.
The Senate and House bills will now be taken up at a joint conference between representatives of the two bodies who will endeavor to agree on the differences. The Senate conferees appointed yesterday were: Senators Reed, Pennsylvania, Sterling, Keyes, King and Harris. Senator King, Democrat, is the only one inclined to be somewhat liberal and the rest are bitter restrictionists. There can be very little hope of improvement from that quarter, therefore. Senator Colt, Chairman of the Senate Immigration Committee was omitted from this committee because of his liberal immigration attitude.