Truman Commission Urges Basic Revision of New Immigration Law
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Truman Commission Urges Basic Revision of New Immigration Law

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The Commission on Immigration and Naturalization , which President Truman appointed some time ago to study the McCarran Immigration Law, today completed its report, which will recommend to the President that the new immigration law which went into effect last week should be reconsidered and revised “from beginning to end. “

The Commission’s report is especially critical of the racial restrictions in the new immigration law. It emphasizes that the discriminatory racial and national restrictions lower the prestige of the United States in the eyes of the world. Jewish organizations and other voluntary agencies are commended by the Commission for their role in helping to make America a haven for the oppressed. At the same time, the Commission points out that the new immigration law prevents the United States from giving asylum to people who escape from the Iron Curtain countries.

Under the Commission’s recommendations, Americans would be allowed to serve in the armed forces of such friendly nations as Israel. The McCarran Immigration Law prevents such service, but the Commission came to the conclusion that “service in foreign armies by American citizens can be motivated by many purposes entirely consistent with allegiance to the United States. ” The Commission recommends that the law in this respect should be restored to what it was prior to the Act of 1952.


The McCarran provisions favoring admission to the United States of Nazis are opposed by the Commission, which recommends that Nazis and Fascists be excluded from the United States as being equally undesirable as the Communists banned by the McCarran Act. The Commission points out that “the millions of graves of those who died that democracy might survive, or who perished as victims of mass murder; the hundreds of thousands who were maimed; the millions who were stripped of their possessions and forced to undergo indescribable suffering, privation, and misery: the destruction of economic resources of once prosperous and happy peoples–these results of the evil ambitions, the cruelties of Nazism and Fascism should keep the United States alert forever more to the danger from that source.”

The provisions of the new immigration law which make it possible that Jewish immigrants from Germany be deported, in Dome instances, on the basis of findings of Nazi courts against them–which was one of the major objections lodged by Jewish organizations against the McCarran Act–are similarly scored by the President’s Commission. The Commission potato out that U. S. immigration laws should not be used to enforce totalitarian “justice. “

It recommends that where the conviction for a crime or crimes involving moral turpitude was rendered by a court in a totalitarian country, the administrative officers should be authorized to inquire into the circumstances of the crime in order to determine whether the conviction actually was for a crime or crimes involving moral turpitude under American standards.

The conclusions of the exhaustive study by the Commission are that the McCarran-Walter Act embodies policies and principles that are unwise and injurious to the nation. It rests upon an attitude of hostility and distrust against all aliens. It applies discriminations against human beings on account of national origin, race, creed and color. It ignores the needs of the United States in domestic affairs and foreign policies. It contains unnecessary and unreasonable restrictions and penalties against individuals. It is badly drafted, confusing and unworkable in many respects.

The summarized recommendations of the Commission are:

1. The national origins quota system should be abolished; there should be a unified quota system, which would allocate visas without regard to national origin, race. creed, or color.

2. The maximum annual quota immigration should be one -sixth of one percent of the population of the United States, as determined by the most recent census. Under the 1950 census, quota immigration would be open to 251, 162 immigrants annually, instead of the 154, 657 now authorized.

3. All immigration and naturalization functions now in the Department of State and the Department of Justice should be consolidated into a new agency, to be headed by a Commission on Immigration and Naturalization whose members should be appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

4. The maximum annual quota of visas should be. distributed, as determined by the proposed Commission On Immigration and Naturalization, on the basis of the following five categories: the right of asylum, reunion of families, needs in the United States, special needs in the free world, and general immigration.

5. For the next three years, within the maximum annual quota, there should be a statutory priority, implementing the right of asylum, for the admission annually of 100,000 refugees, expellees, escapees. and the remaining displaced persons.

6. The allocation of visas within the maximum annual quota should be determined, once every three years, by the proposed Commission, subject to review by the Precedent and the Congress.

7. Enforcement functions should be exercised, under the Commission’s supervision and control, by an administrator. Quasi-judicial functions should be exercised, under the Commissions supervision, by a statutory Board of Immigration and Visa Appeals.

8. The same officials should not be permitted to exercise both enforcement and judicial functions. Aliens should be accorded a fair hearing and procedure in exclusion and deportation cases. Hearings in deportation cases should conform with the requirements of the Administrative procedure act.

9. Hearing officers should be responsible only to the proposed Board of Immigration and Visa Appeals, which should have authority to exercise final administrative review of their decisions, subject to further review in limited cases by the Commission. Aliens should have a right of administrative review, before the Board of Immigration sad Visa Appeals from denials of visas and have a clearly defined method of seeking court review of orders of deportation.


10. The law should not discriminate against naturalized citizens but should place them in the same status as native-born citizens, except when citizenship was procured by fraud or illegality. The law should minimize or remove restrictions which create statelessness, disrupt family unity, or impose unreasonable conditions or procedures upon the Acquisition, or retention of citizenship.

11. The conditions for admission, of aliens into the United States should bear a reasonable relationship to the national welfare and security; be definite in their meaning and application; include discretionary authority to waive specified grounds of admissibility, in meritorious cases; provide for exclusions without hearing, for reasons of security, only upon direction of the board of immigration and visa. appeals; and not be based on the so-called criminal judgments of totalitarian states.

12. The grounds for deportation of aliens already in the United States should bear a reasonable relationship to the national welfare and security not be technical or excessive not be retroactive so as to penalize aliens for acts which were not prohibited when committed; and not require the deportation of aliens who entered the country at an early age, or those who have been residents for such a long period as to become the responsibility of the United States.

13. In connection with the deportation of aliens, there should be discretionary authority to allow them to depart voluntarily instead of deportation; adjust their status within the United States if they are currently qualified to re-enter; suspend deportation under reasonable conditions; and adjust the status of bona fide official defectors from totalitarianism.

14. A resident alien who is not otherwise deportable should not, by reason of a brief absence from the United States, be subject to exclusion or deportation. Unless proceedings for deportation and denaturalization are brought within ten years, they should be barred.

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