Rep. Celler Calls for Liberal U.S. Immigration Policy

Rep. Emanuel Celler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, today urged the replacement of the national origins quota system in American immigration law by a policy which will restore “United States liberalism in the area of immigration and naturalization.”

Rep. Celler, in whose committee all immigration measures in the House originate, testified before the President’s new Commission on Immigration and Naturalization, which concluded its two-day hearings in New York this afternoon. The Commission will now proceed on an 11-city tour of the U.S. during which it will continue to take testimony on current immigration law and on proposals for changes. The unit will report to President Truman by Jan. 1, 1953.

The Congressman reported that during the last session of Congress he introduced a measure to authorize the issuance of 300,000 special non-quota immigration visas to refugees of “iron curtain” countries, to persons of German ethnic origin, and to natives of Italy, Greece and Holland. The Congress failed to act on the bill.

Enactment of such legislation, Rep, Celler asserted, will encourage other countries to do their share in alleviating the problem of displaced and surplus populations, help the U.S. meet its labor needs and reaffirm the humanitarianism of the U.S.

Edward Corsi, New York State Industrial Commissioner and chairman of the state DP commission, also struck out violently against the discriminatory aspects of the national origins quota system, insisting that “it must be junked entirely and out of its ashes a new law must be conceived based on the idea of human equality.” Commissioner Corsi told the President’s commission that such a new immigration policy “should be based on a realistic appraisal of the needs of our domestic economy, especially as it relates to the adequacy of the labor supply in the present defense economy and in the foreseeable future.”

Specifically, Mr. Corsi suggested that a new immigration law should embody the following principles: total immigration based on U.S. manpower needs and U.S. capacity to absorb new immigrants; the major criterion for immigration and naturalization should be fitness of the individual for citizenship, without regard to race, color, religion or national origin; pooling of quotas and use in the future of previously unused quotas; preservation of the right of fair hearings and judicial review in immigration cases; and elimination of distinction between the rights and duties of naturalized and native citizens.

Citing the experience of New York State with DP immigrants, he said that six percent of the labor force provided by the 116,000 DP immigrants admitted under the DP Act of 1948 and settled in New York were professional and semi-professional workers or managers; 36 percent were skilled workers; 19 percent were farmers or farm laborers and the remainder were in commercial or unskilled jobs.

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