U.S. Bars All Immigrants Except Where ‘in American Interest’
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U.S. Bars All Immigrants Except Where ‘in American Interest’

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The United States today departed from her historic policy of an open door to immigrants and laid down a new doctrine that “none shall be admitted unless it affirmatively appears to be for the American interest.”

The new policy was set forth by Attorney General Robert H. Jackson in a statement on the occasion of taking over the Immigration and Naturalization Service from the Labor Department. He announced plans for fingerprinting and registration of aliens, but promised that they would be treated “without prejudice, without malice and with scrupulous fairness.”


1–“There will be a more strict control of the privilege of entering this country. The doctrine that any come to this country unless it is shown that he is a menace must, at least temporarily, yield to the policy that none shall be admitted unless it affirmatively appears to be for the American interest. To that end, in cooperation with the Department of State, greater strictness will be exercised over privileges to enter and there will be an increased vigilance at borders.

2–“We favor a simple, straightforward registration and identification of all non-citizens who are in our midst. This of course carries no criminal stigma and no implications of any sort. It is a simple recognition of non-citizenship common in all countries. It must not be carried out offensively or oppressively.

“If I, as an American, were today a resident in a foreign country, I would welcome the opportunity to go to the authorities and explain the reason for my presence and what my activities were, and to obtain some kind of certification which I might show as evidence of my good faith. I believe that in this country alien registration will bring to those aliens who comply with it a large degree of protection from local harassments and other embarrassments, and that this plan, if carried out properly, will be a benefit to the alien who complies.

3–“After registration is completed, there will be a residue of unregistered aliens who will not comply, either because if would disclose illegal entry, or because it might disclose other crimes, or because many of them are ignorant or uninformed or mistaken about our law. We must set up machinery to deal fairly and dispassionately with these cases according to the individual merits of the particular situation.

4–“I cannot emphasize too strongly that it is the duty of a department which claims to be a Department of Justice to deal with the non-citizen in this country without prejudice, without malice and with scrupulous fairness. The three and a half million aliens in this country are most of them loyal to our principles. We must remember that most of them have sought this country as a haven from other systems of government. Most of them, like millions of immigrants before them, have the makings of good Americans, but hateful or unjust treatment of loyal non-citizens may have the result of making them the prey of those who would organize a ‘fifth column’ here. No greater disservice to the cause of American unity and defense can be perpetrated than the wholesale arousing of hate against persons of foreign birth who have been attracted to this country by our promise of American opportunity.

“It will be the duty of this department, while firmly insisting upon alien observation of the precautions which we see fit to take for the national defense, also to insist upon American citizens showing due and decent observance of the rights of aliens who do so comply. And it may very well be that protection of the legitimate rights of aliens may become as important a duty of this new unit in the department as the enforcement of the law against them.”

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