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Eisenhower Proposes Sweeping Liberalization of Immigration Laws

March 18, 1960
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President Eisenhower today called for a sweeping liberalization of immigration laws that would end racial and national quotas and provide special admission for victims of religious persecution.

Mr. Eisenhower requested legislation that would bring 308, 000 immigrants into the country annually instead of the present quota of half that number. The immigration limit would be based on the 1960 census rather than the 1920 census. The 1920 census still governs immigration quotas. Provisions would be added to provide a haven especially for victims of political and religious persecution.

Opposition to the proposal developed in Congress immediately. Rep. Francis E. Walter, Pennsylvania Democrat, said it had no chance whatever to gain Congressional adoption. Rep. Walter is chairman of the House Immigration Subcommittee and coauthor of the controversial McCarran-Walter Immigration Act.

President Eisenhower asked Attorney General Rogers to draft legislation to implement the requested changes. A section of the new proposal would empower the President to authorize parole into the United States of refugees selected by the Secretary of State. Refugees were defined to include “persons who have been forced to flee from Communist territory or from a country in the Middle East because of persecution or fear of persecution based on race, religion, or political opinion. “

A controversial requirement for information by visa applicants as to “race and ethnic classification,” section 222 of the Act, has from time to time been used to force persons of Jewish faith to identify themselves as such. A section of the President’s requested new legislation “would eliminate this requirement since the terms are not susceptible of definition and have served no useful purpose in the administration of the Immigration and Nationality Act.”

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