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Expect Hard Fighton Repeal of National Origins Act As Senate Opens Discussion

December 9, 1928
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Preliminary Discussion Reveals Rift Among Members (Jewish Daily Bulletin)

The National Origins Plan, calling for the reapportionment of the immigration quotas on the basis of the racial origins of the United States population, due to become effective July 1, 1929, if not repealed or again postponed, will be the center of a heated controversy in Congress during the short session.

A discussion in the Senate Thursday afternoon revealed the rift on the question, notwithstanding the fact that President-elect Herbert Hoover had in his acceptance speech expressed himself against the National Origins plan, since he, as a member of the commission appointed by President Coolidge to investigate the feasibility of determining the national origins of the United States population, found that no reliable data is available for such a determination. Senator Reed of Pennsylvania, who originally sponsored the National Origins clause when it was enacted, declared that he would oppose its repeal or postponement. On the other hand, Senator Harrison of Mississippi quoted the reference in Mr. Hoover’s acceptance speech with regard to his opposition to the National Origins act, and predicted that there would be a movement before next July by the new administration for postponement or repeal.

Senator Shipstead of Minnesota declared that he will renew his opposition to the National Origins act. Senator King of Utah asked whether the movement for putting the act in force is aimed against Mr. Hoover. Senator Shipstead declared that the National Origins act has nothing to do with the immigration restriction, it simply being a method of reckoning the quotas, a method which is both unreliable and discriminating.

The discussion centered around a resolution introduced into the Senate by Senator Reed on behalf of the American Legion, urging that the National Origins clause be retained. The resolution assailed “the alien blocs” which sought to “mangle and emasculate” the law. It was clearly seen that there will be a sharp fight over the National Origins question. Senator King wanted to know if Mr. Hoover was included in the category of “alien blocs.” “I am not sure whether that is aimed at Mr. Hoover or Gov. Smith,” returned Senator Reed.

Echoes of the recent presidential campaign were a strong feature in the discussion on the matter. Senator Heflin of Alabama accused Gov. Smith of having pretended during the campaign to favor restriction of immigration, when in reality he favored “the opening of the flood gates to hordes of aliens.”

Senator Reed declared: “We whose ancestors made this country and fought in every war have a right to be taken into account.” He said the most important increase under the National Origins plan would be that of Great Britain, including Wales, from 34,007 to 65,894. Senator Harrison said there was not the slightest chance of letting down the immigration restrictions, despite difference of views as to detail.

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