Menu JTA Search

Liberalization of U.S. Immigration Laws Urged by Five National Jewish Organizations

American immigration laws and their administration show the effects of a discredited isolationist, racist and bureaucratic approach, and must be revised to conform with American interests and principles, Irving M. Engel of New York, chairman of the administrative committee of the American Jewish committee, declared today at hearings of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He spoke on behalf of the American Jewish Committee, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the Jewish Labor Committee, the United Service for New Americans and the Synagogue Council of America.

Declaring that consular decisions on immigration matters should be subject to administrative and Judicial appeal, Engel stated that every step which the Senate Judiciary Committee “can take to refocus our immigration procedures on the interests of American citizens will be a step towards the elimination of uneconomic and un-American bureaucracy. If we really want to Americanize our immigrants, we might begin by Americanizing our immigration laws,” he said.

Engel urged the committee to consider the following recommendations for major policy changes in immigration laws, which he Bald were in the national interest as well as in conformity with public opinion:

1. That Congress make the quota system more flexible by permitting the carrying over of unused quotas from year to year and the transfer of unused quotas from one country to another. This action, he said, would make possible full utilization of the coiling figure established by law.

2. That the carry-over restrictions of the law be modified to permit the establishment of a pool of the unused quota of the previous year and that this pool be administered without regard to national origins. “Such a pool,” He declared, “would lend flexibility to immigration practices. The surplus visas should be available to eligible immigrants. In the absence of priorities established by Congress, the principle of ‘first come, first served’ should be applied to the applications of our citizen sponsors.”

3. That steps be taken to eliminate the concept of racial discrimination from our immigration laws, and to extend quotas to groups heretofore Inadmissible. “The concept of racial inferiority is implicit in our exclusion and quota laws,” Eagle pointed out. “Quotas were established according to country of birth, and the allotment of quotas of varying sizes was based on supposed proportional representation of various groups in our total population. The fact remains, the chief reason why this method of distribution was chosen, was because it accorded small quotas to the countries of ‘newer immigration’ – southern and eastern Europe.

CURRENT ANNUAL IMMIGRATION AMOUNTS TO ONLY 1/40 OF 1% OF U.S. POPULATION.

Pointing out that under the existing laws “we do not admit the maximum of 153,000 quota immigrants a year,” he declared that “from 1930 to 1947, inclusive, the number of immigrants coming to the United States has averaged only 60,868 per year, and if the figures for net immigration are used–that is, subtracting returning immigrants and other persons emigrating from the United States–only 33,520 per year. This latter figure represents only one-fortieth of one percent of our population.”

“Variations in the American birth rate, or the discovery of cures for various diseases, have a much greater effect on job competition than immigration,” Engel declared. He warned that without sizeable immigration, the United States will lose its demographic position in the world.

NEXT STORY