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Jewish Congressmen Move in Opposite Directions on Immigration

December 24, 1923
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Congressman Sabbath has introduced another immigration bill following close upon the first, introduced a few days ago. His new bill differs from the first measure in that instead of proposing a liberalized quota law it is in effect simply an ammendment of the present law, whereby certain close relatives would be exempted from the quota restrictions. In other words it is exclusively a “relative” bill.

The procedure provided by Sabbath is for a petition to be filed by the American relative with the Commissioner General of Immigration, which, if granted, entitles the alien relative to admission free from any quota restrictions. The bill makes the granting of the petition mandatory upon the Commissioner if he finds to be true the facts required in the petition, such as relationship, nationality, willingness and financial ability to provide for the alien, etc.

In the absence of Congressman Sabbath from the city, it is impossible to ascertain from him an explanation for the introduction of this second bill. One hypothesis which may be made is that he may have realized he made at least a tactical blunder in introducing a quota bill–which was the form of the first measure, although it proposed liberal improvements.

Meanwhile, Congressman Nathan Perlman of New York, in the extreme opposite position from Sabbath and his quota bill, has introduced a bill to entirely repeat the present quota law, and another bill for repeal of the literacy test. These distinct measures reveal the decided difference of opinion existing between the two Congressman as to the policy to be pursued by Jewish pro-immigrationists. Sabbath evidently believes more can be gained on behalf of liberalizing the immigration restrictions by recognizing the inevitable–that it is impossible to prevent continuance of the quota plan as a general system of immigration, than in “backing” the restrictionists. In other words, Sabbath considers himself a “realist” On the other hand Perlman is uncompromising on the general principle that there should be no restriction, refuses to capitulate, and would fight step by step–herhaps offering ammendments as the restrictionists’ bill came up for actual consideration, but never adopting the quota idea as a voluntary piece of legislation. Sabbath apparently considers Perlman as an impractical idealist.

Congressman Dickstein, who with Sabbath are the only Jewish members of the Immigration Committee, has not yet fully decided between these two opposing views, but seems to incline toward Sabbath.

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