House Passes Jenkins Immigration Bill for Uniting Separated Families

(Jewish Daily Bulletin)

By a large majority the House yesterday passed the Jenkins bill, the only measure Congress is expected to pass for uniting separated families.

The bill exempts from the quota unmarried children up to twenty-one and the husbands of American citizens. It contains as its chief provision a plan whereby the wives and children under twenty-one and the husbands of aliens lawfully admitted to the United States for residence, will be given preference over all other immigrants up to fifty per cent of each quota. The parents of American citizens over twenty-one are also given preference in the other fifty per cent of the quota, along with skilled agriculturists and their wives and children under eighteen. The wives and children of aliens will also be admitted within the unexhausted portion of this fifty per cent of the quota.

The Jenkins bill will have the effect of practically cutting off all immigration except the above classes from countries having small quotas for a considerable period, pending the reuniting of separated families for whose benefit the bill was drawn. The bill as passed carries an amendment made yesterday by the House Immigration Committee at the instance of Congressman Dickstein, exempting from the quota women citizens of the United States who, prior to September 20, 1922, lost their citizenship by reason of marriage to an alien.

Only a brief debate of forty minutes under suspension of the rules was allowed on the bill, the time being taken up by Congressman Jenkins for the Republican majority and Dickstein for the Democratic minority.

The Jewish Congressmen, Dickstein, Celler and Sirovich, all expressed their dissatisfaction with the bill because it does not go far enough and fails to afford sufficient relief to separated families. They pointed out that exemption from the quota instead of preference within it should have been provided. However, they voted for the bill because it affords some, if inadequate, relief for the separated families.

Congressman LaGuardia attacked the bill and voted against it on the ground that it was merely subterfuge. He insisted upon a bill that would grant exemption to the relatives separated from their families. He interrupted Congressman Dickstein during his address, charging him with inconsistency in supporting the Jenkins bill. Congressman Dickstein replied that “half a loaf is better than nothing at all” and stated he is voting for the bill because he is convinced no better legislation can be obtained during the short period Congress will remain in session.

The bill now goes to the Senate where an early vote is expected. If it is rejected by the Senate, the bill will be submitted to the Committee of Conferees, representing both branches of Congress.

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