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President Harding in Favor of Selective Immigration System

April 23, 1923
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Senator Thomas Sterling of South Dakota, prominent Republican member of the Senate Immigration Committee, conferred with President Harding yesterday concerning the immigration situation, it has been learned by your correspondent, who interviewed the Senator to-day about the Conference. The Senator stated that he had informed the President of a bill which he intends to introduce at the next session of Congress for selective immigration, whereby an independent commission of five members would be appointed by the President to handle immigration problems.

Senator Sterling stated that he had only given the President a general idea of his proposed bill and had not gone into the details concerning it. The President expressed himself in favor of a selective system of immigration as a permanent plan and as a general theory, the Senator said.

Asked if the President had given any impression of being at odds with the Secretary of Labor Davis concerning future immigration policy, the Senator said that he had gotten no such impression, but he had every reason to believe that the views of the President coincided with those of Secretary David.

The labor problem as affected by immigration was not touched upon at all at their conference, the Senator also said.

Senator Sterling recently came into prominence as probably the most active Republican member of the Senate Immigration Committee. Senator Colt, the Chairman of the Committee, has reached an advance age and cannot apparently be as active as Senator Sterling. Senator Sterling was the author of the bill providing for Admission of Armenian refugees which passed the Senate before Congress adjourned but which was amended in the House to provide still greater restriction of immigration. The measure failed of adoption in the House however.

Under the proposal of Senator Sterling for his new bill which he expects to introduce, within certain limitations the commission would determine what percentage of immigration should come in, in a given year, from each country. It would be governed in its rulings by the needs of he country and its capability of assimilating additional immigrants. The bill also would provide for the examination of immigration by agents of the United States in foreign countries before sailing. It is not clear from the Senators plan, however, how he would overcome the international objections which have been raised against this latter idea, , which is also a favorite with Secretary Davis.

Senator Sterling is convinced he said today, that the present 3 percent restrictive immigration law should not be permanent. It had served a good purpose to prevent the country’s being flooded with immigrants following the world war. Senator Sterling said, but it is now time to enact a comprehensive permanent law, dealing with a the immigration problem from every angle.

He said he believed from the reports which had come to him that there was a shortage of labor in many of the industries. Furthermore, he said, there was every prospect of a shortage of labor on the farms. While a labor shortage may for a time benefit labor, Senator Sterling pointed out that it would result in high prices of all the things which the farmer has to buy, while at the same time making farm labor hard to get and expensive. He believes there should be some lessening of the restriction.

The government reports on immigration up to April 11 show that of the annual maximum quota of immigrants from all countries combined – 357,803 under the existing law – there had entered this country 283,833, leaving 72,556 immigrants to enter the United States up to July 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year if the entire quota is filled.

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