NEW YORK (Sep. 30)
Sen. Herbert H. Lehman today appeared before the President’s Commission on Immigration and Naturalization to urge that the discriminatory national origins quota system which is the basis of United States immigration law be “swiftly expunged from our laws” and replaced with a substitute system geared to America’s needs and its capacity to absorb new immigrants.
Sen. Lehman appeared on the first day of hearings in New York. The Commission, headed by former Solicitor-General Philip B. Perlman, will take further testimony tomorrow before embarking on an eleven-city tour of the U.S. to hear proponents and opponents of the American immigration laws. It will report to President Truman by Jan. 1, 1953, and its report is expected to form the basis of Presidential recommendations for immigration legislation.
The Senator suggested the establishment of a numerical total quota limitation such as 300,000 or 350,000 annually to be based on the needs of the country and the ability of the prospective immigrant to contribute to America’s welfare and development rather than on the national origin of the would-be immigrant. In a listing of defects in the immigration law, including the recently-enacted McCarran-Walter Act, Sen. Lehman included: lack of provision for review of decisions of consular officials; lack of adequate appeals and review procedure in exclusion and deportation cases; distinction between native-born and naturalized citizens; and retroactive deportation.
Testifying in behalf of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith and the American Jewish Committee, Lester Gutterman, a member of the ADL board, submitted a four-point program to the commission calling for reform of the present immigration and naturalization law by establishing a visa review board, by revising the deportation laws and by eliminating all disabilities suffered by naturalized citizens because they are not native born.
Mr. Gutterman suggested the following criteria for the number of immigrants to be admitted: 1. The demand for immigration visas in each country; 2. The extent of our economic and military commitments in the various countries; and 3. The impact of a particular quota on the implementation of our foreign policy.
The national origins quota system was assailed as “racist” and “incredibly out of joint with our time and with the hopes and beliefs of the vast bulk of the American people, by Rabbi Simon G. Kramer, president of the Synagogue Council of America, speaking for the Council and the National Community Relations Advisory Council.
Rabbi Kramer’s statement denounced deportation as a punishment for crimes or as a penalty for failure to remain self-supporting and concentrated its fire on various discriminatory provisions of the McCarran-Walter Act, which it said flouts the principle of equal application of the law to all citizens, native-born and naturalized alike. The statement also urged establishment of a visa review board and that the existing non-statutory Board of Immigration Appeals be made statutory.