WASHINGTON (Aug. 3)
The House Judiciary Committee today voted approval for a bill to liberalize immigration policy, including elimination of the discriminatory national origins quota system. Strong support on the House floor was indicated by the 26-4 bipartisan vote of the committee. The bill was advocated by all major Jewish and liberal non-Jewish organizations in the country.
The bill, following on lines advocated by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, would terminate the system instituted in 1924 of assigning quotas to individual nations. The measure establishes a new and more equitable order of preferences for immigrants. The chief beneficiaries will be close relations of American citizens.
Under terms of the national origins quota system, countries in the north and west of Europe–mainly “Anglo-Saxon” in background–are now entitled to most of the available U. S. immigration visas. Many visas have gone unused by these countries, although persons from eastern and southern Europe have smaller quotas which are heavily oversubscribed. The national origins system was adopted under the pretext that it reflected the ethnic composition of the American population in 1920.
The new bill would terminate the quota system on July 1, 1968. Until then, unused quotas would be pooled to reduce the waiting lists of applicants from countries which are now allocated small quotas. On July 1, 1968, a ceiling of 170,000 would be placed on immigration from countries now assigned quotas. Each country would be treated equally. A maximum limit of 20,000 a year would be imposed on admissions from any one nation.
Outside the ceiling would be the parents, spouses and children of American citizens. Western Hemisphere nations, now permitted unrestricted immigration outside the quotas, would not be affected. The bill would authorize a total annual immigration of about 340,000. Comprising this total would be 170,000 under the ceiling, 120,000 from the Western Hemisphere and 50,000 parents, spouses and children of American citizens.
Rep. Clark MacGregor, Minnesota Republican, offered the only substantial opposition to the bill in an amendment to impose the ceiling on Western Hemisphere nations. But his amendment was rejected. He said he would attempt to offer it again when the measure is called on the House floor.
Chairman Michael A. Feighan, of the House Immigration Subcommittee, greeted the bipartisan backing for the bill, and voiced confidence of passage. A companion bill is now before the Senate Immigration Subcommittee. No difficulty is anticipated there.