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Senator Shipstead Urges Repeal of National Origin Clause in Immigration Act

(Jewish Daily Bulletin)

Repeal of the National Origin Clause of the Immigration Act on the ground that there is not sufficient official or other data upon which to determine the quota of each country upon this basis, and that therefore the clause would lead to discrimination between nationalities, was urged by Senator Henrik Shipstead (Farmer-Labor), of Minnesota, before the Senate Committee on Immigration.

Senator Shipstead explained that he desired to submit a statement in regard to Senate Bill No. 4425, which he introduced last June 8, to amend sections 11 and 12 of the immigration law of 1924. He explained that the amendment is in the form of a redraft of these sections, and its object the repeal of the so-called “national origin” method of determining the annual immigration quota from each country, to take effect July 1, 1927, so that the annual quota of immigrants from any country shall continue to be the same as at present–2 per cent of the number of foreign-born individuals of each nationality resident in continental United States as determined by the United States Census of 1890.

“In redrawing sections 11 and 12,” Senator Shipstead told the committee, “I have endeavored to eliminate there from all that relates to the ‘national origin’ provisions, both in regard to the numerical limitations and also in regard to the administration of the immigration law, but to retain therein all that relates to the administration of the law under the quota as provided for in paragraph (a) Section 11.

“My reason for asking for the elimination of the ‘national origin’ method to determine the quota of each country is that I find that we have not sufficient official or other data upon which to determine the quota of each country upon this basis and that it would lead to discrimination between different nationalities, which is just what Congress diligently endeavored to avoid in passing the immigration act of 1924.

“The purpose of the ‘national origin’ plan is to divide all immigrants exactly in accordance with the ‘national origin’ of our population so as to eliminate charges of discrimination. If this could be done it might be an ideal plan.”

Senator Shipstead quoted authorities to support his argument that there is no data available which can be used as a basis for determining the quotas of each country on the basis of the origin clause.

“It is seen,” he said, “that the most important element in this determination is ‘statistics of immigration and emigration.’ The next important element is ‘rates of increase of population as shown by successive decennial United States censuses.’ As reliable statistics of immigration and emigration are not in existence, the whole plan fails and leaves the determination to more guess work or conjecture.”

The Minnesota Senator told the Committee that, according to the best information he had there were no statistics of immigration during the first 213 years of the settlement of the United States by while people.

He referred to the Constitutional features of the national origin method.

“Congress has no doubt the power to adopt any arbitrary quota it may see fit and has the power to delegate to some commission or executive officers the power to determine the immigration quota for each country from facts and figures that may be established before such commission or offices,” he said, “but when Congress attempts to confer upon a commission or executive officer of the Government the power to fix arbitrarily the quota for each country, has not Congress exceeded its powers in delegating to such board or officers a part of its legislative functions?”

The cooperation of the American Federation of Labor in the fight begun by the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union to eradicate Communist elements from the organization as part of a larger program of organized labor to drive all Communists from the American labor movement, the special committee appointed by the American Federation of Labor to cooperate with the I. L. G. W. U., was pledged in a statement issued by the A. F. of L. endorsing the stand of Sigman. The committee was headed by Matthew Woll, vice-president of the A. F. of L.

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