WASHINGTON (Jul. 29)
The Senate voted today to admit within three years 209,000 above-quota immigrants in response to President Eisenhower’s request for emergency legislation to admit victims of Communism and overcrowding in Europe. The vote was 63 to 30.
Before the measure was brought to a vote on the Senate floor a compromise deal was made between Administration forces and the anti-immigration elements led by Sen. Pat McCarran. It was reported that the Administration agreed not to seek any change in the McCarran-Walter Act at this time. In return, Sen. McCarran reportedly consented to allow the bill to go through without a bitter fight on the Senate floor.
Last night the House passed a version of the same bill calling for admission of 217,000 over a period of three years. The two versions now go to a Senate-House conference committee where differences will be compromised and ironed out. The President’s original request was for 240,000 persons to be admitted in the next two years.
Although President Eisenhower envisioned the measure as a move to relieve Europeans, a claim was made that it “discriminated” against Palestinian Arab refugees. An amendment favoring the admission of 2,000 Arabs was written into the House version.
The present bill actually benefits extremely few persons of the Jewish faith, but it is being supported as a matter of principle by major Jewish organizations. Sen. Herbert H. Lehman said: “To present this bill as a fulfillment of the promises made in the past or as a remedy for the defects noted in the McCarran-Walter Act would be a fraud upon the American people. ” Sen. Lehman pointed out that “this bill not only does nothing about the basic defects in the McCarran-Walter Act – it accepts and adopts those defects. “
Nevertheless, Sen. Lehman stated he would vote for the present bill because he felt its overall purpose was humanitarian. He said, however, that he wished to make it unmistakably clear that the bill “is no substitute for basic revisions in one of the worst statutes I have ever known, one of the most shameful laws ever to be written on the statute books of the United States. ” He referred to the McCarran-Walter Act.