President Johnson Signs Immigration Bill in Ceremony at Statue of Liberty

Standing at the foot of the Statue of Liberty, President Lyndon B. Johnson today signed the new immigration bill, which, he said, “repairs a deep and painful flaw in the fabric of American justice.” He said the bill “is not a revolutionary bill; it does not affect the lives of millions, yet it is still one of the most important acts of this Congress and this Administration. It corrects a cruel and enduring wrong in the conduct of the American nation. It will make us truer to ourselves as a country and a people.”

The bill, the President said, states that, from day forth “those wishing to immigrate to America shall be admitted on the basis of their skills and their close relationship to those already here. The fairness of this standard,” President Johnson stressed, “is so self-evident that we may well wonder that it has not always been applied. Yet the fact is that, for over four decades, the immigration policy of the United States has been twisted and distorted by the harsh injustice of the national origins quota system.”

William Rosenwald, former general chairman of the United Jewish Appeal, who attended the signing ceremonies at the invitation of the White House, declared in a statement: “We of the United Jewish Appeal hail the enactment of this new immigration law. It means that larger numbers of men, women and children yearning to breathe free can have their hopes realized. For this, President Johnson and the Congress of the United States deserve the commendation of the entire world.”

Murray Gurfein, president of United Hias Service, and James P. Rice, executive director, who were present at the ceremonies, declared in a statement: “This is an historic occasion because, after 40 years of discriminatory immigration legislation, the United States has now adopted a policy which opens the door to immigrants to this country on the basis of their family ties here and their skills, and not on where they were born.”

Morris B. Abram, president of the American Jewish Committee, expressed gratitude to President Johnson and to Congress for passing the new immigration bill, which introduces what he called “fundamental changes in our immigration policy.” Aaron Goldman, chairman of the National Community Relations Advisory Council, sent a message to President Johnson, expressing appreciation of the leadership he gave in the achievement.

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