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Senate Immigration Committee Rejects 1890 Census Basis for Quotas

February 29, 1924
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The census of 1890 as a basis for computation of immigration quotas was definitely rejected by the Senate Immigration Committee which opened its hearing on the proposed changes in the present immigration law Thursday. A fight to retain the present provision for quotas of three percent was lost, however, and the amendment to the pending immigration bill will provide for two percent, quotas based on the census of 1910.

The vote on the census basis was seven for 1910 and four against, being divided as follows: For: -Chairman Colt, Senators Copeland of New York, Sterling of South Dakota, Johnson of California, Keyes of New Hampshire, Willis of Ohio and King of Utah. Against: -Reed of Pennsylvania, Harris of Georgia, Harrison of Mississippi and Shields of Tennessee.

A closer vote was had on the percentage provision, Colt, Copeland, Sterling, Johnson and King losing a hard fought battle to Willis, who introduced the motion for two percent, quotas, rallying Harris, Harrison, Shilds and Reed to his support.

No decision was reached regarding the exemption of relatives from the quota, this and the remaining features of the bill being referred to a sub-committee, which includes beside Senator Reed as Chairman, King, Copeland and Colt. This committee will begin its work at once. A general hearing on the bill will be held Saturday, March 8, at 10:30 o’clock. Thus far the committee has received no requests from Jews to appear at the hearing either as individuals or representatives of organizations.

Prior to the defeat of Senator Harrison’s motion to fix the quotas by the 1890 census and carrying of Senator King’s motion to adopt the 1910 figures, the committee voted on a series of motions, each intended to amend the immigration measure. Senator Harris proposed that the bill provide that immigration be suspended for five years. This was lost, two to eight with Harris and Harrison the only supporters.

A motion by Senator Reed to make the quota basis I percent. of the census figures of 1910 plus 4 percent. of the nationals of any on country shown by the census of 1920 who have completed

more than 50 percent. of the steps necessary to naturalization, was lost, 4 to 7. Those who voted for this motion were, Reed, Harris Harrison and Shields.

Then Senator Harrison offered an amendment to the Reed motion which would make the additional admission 2 percent. instead of 4 percent. of semi-naturalized citizens shown by the census of 1920. This, too, was lost, 4 to 7.

In well informed circles in Washington it was stated that it is practically certain that the House of Representatives will compromise by also adopting the census of 1910 as a basis for fixing quotes and that the two branches of Congress will ultimately unite on this. This prediction was given additional weight by a statement made by Senator Colt in which he told of a recent conversation with Chairman Johnson of the House Immigration Committee and the author of the Johnson Immigration Bill, who said that his committee’s decision in favor of the 1890 provision was taken with “great regret”. Senator Colt intimated that he had received the impression that Congressman Johnson would be ready to compromise.

It is extremely doubtful that the Senate Immigration Committee will be ready to report its bill earlier than three weeks.

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