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Jewish Congress Testifies Before Senate Body on Passport Proposals

The American Jewish Congress criticized Administration proposals which would make “the exercise of the right to a passport dependent on the will of the Secretary of State.” Testifying today before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Phil Baum, senior staff counsel of the American Jewish Congress, criticized the Administration’s efforts to make the passport an accessory of foreign relations.

“The passport,” Mr. Baum stated, “has served from the beginning of our history until only recently as a mere certificate of identity and has been issued to the American citizen as his right. Now, however, despite the Supreme Court’s recent holding that the right to a passport is protected by the Constitution, the Administration has asked that it be made subordinate to State Department purposes.”

Noting that the U.S. alone of the free nations of the West put serious restrictions on the freedom of travel, Mr. Baum urged that “discretion to withhold passports should be exercised only to detain fugitives from justice, persons under indictment and free on bail, and generally who seek to escape legal obligation.”

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