White House orders for Congress to adjourn within the next four weeks have spurred legislators and lobbyists into intense activity for the passage of various pet measures. Every effort is being made by the various groups to rally last-minute support for these proposals in the hope that in the rush of things these measures will be squeezed through the legislative mill and enacted into law.
Most of the spade work is being done under cover. Conferences behind closed doors are the rule. The proper foundation must be laid before the sponsors of these various pet measures can come out into the open and make a real fight for enactment. The whole game is an old one, but becomes increasingly popular as the close of a session of Congress nears.
Sponsors of various immigration measures are especially active these days. Representative Samuel Dickstein of New York, chairman of the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, is particularly active in building up support for legislation designed to humanize existing immigration laws.
At the same time, sponsors of anti-alien legislation are engaged in a fight of their own. Headed by Representative Martin Dies of Texas, a member of the House immigration committee, this group is carrying on open warfare in an effort to gain support for a measure which will stop immigration to the United States and drive out those who are not citizens of this country.
In This drive for restrictive and non-restrictive alien legislation, there is no hesitancy on the part of both camps to call each other names. Representative Dickstein charges that advocates of anti-alien legislation are responsible for the existence in this country of “an anti-alien prejudice.” He says that efforts have been made to “paint the alien as a menace to our form of government, to our jobs, and to our standards of living. This could not be done without showing that there were aliens here in such numbers as to constitute a threat in these respects. This need for numbers to prove the existence of a serious alien problem has given rise to gross exaggerations as to the number of aliens in the country, and particularly as to the number of those that have entered illegally.”
In spite of authentic figures made available by the Department of Labor and various independent agencies. Representative Dies continues to cite figures which have been branded by officials as “fantastic exaggerations.” In reviewing these figures, Representative Dickstein denies that there exists an alien menace in the United States. He holds that the law-abiding alien in the United States should not be handicapped, in these distressing days, by threats of wholesale deportations and compulsory naturaliaztions.
Representative Dies, who has introduced a drastic anti-alien bill, has his own way of fighting back at critics of his proposal. He has made the charge that Col. D. W. MacCormack, immigration commissioner of the Department of Labor, who made public official figures on the number of aliens in this country, “inspired propaganda designed to raise religious and racial prejudice” against the Dies anti-alien measure.
The Texan charged that the immigration commissioner used government funds to influence members of Congress on legislation and asserted that Col. MacCormack “instructed immigration inspectors to get published a statement he issued on June 20, carrying misleading information.” The statement to which Representative Dies referred was one which Col. MacCormack had presented before the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization at the request of Representative Dickstein who desired that the country become familiar with the true facts and figures on the alien situation in the United States.
While fighting anti-alien legislation, Representative Dickstein is urging enactment of legislation to humanize immigration laws. The New Yorker’s efforts are centered on obtaining support for the Kerr bill, H. R. 8163. This measure was introduced by Representative John H. Kerr of North Carolina, another member of the House immigration committee.
Under the existing inflexible deportation laws, the law-abiding alien whose only offense is that he came here some years ago without submitting to proper inspection by an immigration official, is subject to mandatory deportation even if that harsh action results in a broken home with an American-born wife and American-born children left here without means of self-support. But, deportation is not possible in the case of a hardened criminal who has managed to escape with light sentences or fines for numerous criminal offenses over a number of years. This individual is free to continue his criminal activity until he is convicted of two or more crimes involving moral turpitude and for each conviction is sentenced for one year or more. The Kerr bill would make it possible to adjust such cases to meet the basis of facts in the case and in the spirit of equal justice and for best public interest, Representative Dickstein holds.
He Points Out that the Kerr bill is so framed that limited discretion may be given to a specially appointed committee made up of officials from the Departments of Labor, State, and Justice. Establishment of such a committee to handle immigration problems was originally suggested by the Wickersham Commission on Law Enforcement and Observation, set up a few years ago when Herbert Hoover was president.
“Surely, no right-minded, patriotic American citizen will stand up and claim that such a committee will jointly permit such abuse of discretionary power as to utterly break down all our laws relating to immigration and deportation,” Representative Dickstein said.
Those who oppose the Dies bill say that it will break down existing immigration and deportation laws. Which side will win out in this fight on immigration and alien legislation will not be known until the present session of Congress comes to an end. In the meantime, the activities of the restrictionists will bear watching by all fair-minded citizens.