WASHINGTON (Sep. 21)
Chairman James O. Eastland, of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today took a leading role on the Senate floor in opposition to the immigration reform bill which would eliminate the national origins quota system. He charged that the move to do away with such a system catered to pressures of “organized minority bloes in the great urban areas of this country.”
The Mississippi Democrat denounced the bill as “politically-motivated.” He said it was an effort to “curry the favor of minority blocs of voters” through destruction of the national origins quota system. He stated that he felt America should retain selectivity and restrictions on the character and origin of immigrants.
Sen, John L. McClellan, Arkansas Democrat, told the Senate that the United States has “absolutely no business liberalizing its immigration laws.”
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, led the forces favoring the bill. He opened debate by stressing that “favoritism based on nationality will disappear” if the bill is adopted. He termed present immigration policy “as much a failure, as a device, as it is an embarrassment as a doctrine.” He said passage of the reform bill would keep faith with the hopes of such men as the late President John F. Kennedy and Sen. Herbert H. Lehman.
Senators Robert F. Kennedy, Democrat, and Jacob K. Javits, Republican, both of New York, called for an end to the discriminatory national origins quota system.
The national origins quota system, in effect since 1924, has been opposed by Jews in this country as well as by many other ethnic minorities, for many years. Under that system, immigration was favored from Anglo-Saxon and Nordic countries in Europe, as well as from countries like Italy and Greece were held to very small minimums.
The House of Representatives has already passed the bill, including elimination of the quota system and permitting total annual immigration to the United States of 355, 000 persons. A vote on the Senate version of the bill is expected tomorrow.