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Congress to Discuss Liberal Immigration Measures Backed by Kennedy

January 4, 1961
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Liberalized immigration quotas are one of the legislative measures almost certain to pass the new, 87th Congress, which opened here today. A number of legislators in both Houses have gone on record as planning to fight for a liberal immigration bill in this session. They can be certain of support by the Administration.

One of the immigration bills to be introduced later this week has the specific endorsement of President-elect John F. Kennedy. Representative Alfred E. San tangelo released a letter from Mr. Kennedy, dated October 8, in which the proposed bill was described as “a sound basis for legislative action.” Rep. Santangelo, a New York Democrat, included four provisions in his bill:

1. To allow over 40, 000 persons now separated from their families in the U.S. to enter the country outside the quota system. 2. To base the national quota on up-to-date census reports, instead of the 1920 census. 3. To distribute the unused quotas of some nations to those with more prospective immigrants than their quotas. 4. To authorize the Attorney General to admit up to 60, 000 refugees a year.

Some of these measures were included in bills introduced in previous years, but passage has been blocked. Senator Jacob Javits and a number of others served notice last year that they would no longer yield to pressure by opponents of liberal immigration, who used the tactics of submitting an alternative “little or nothing” to prevent meaningful legislation.

The President-elect in his letter to Rep. Santangelo said he believed the most important immediate objective of immigration reform was the re-uniting of families. He also called for the abolition of the National Origins Quota System and its replacement with a “more equitable method of regulating the inflow of immigrants.”

Senator Kennedy’s call for the abolition of the National Quota System is especially significant, since this method of according visas would be retained under Rep. Santangelo’s bill. Thus the President-elect went even further in his letter of endorsement than the bill which he endorsed. With the support of the White House, advocates of liberalized immigration stand a much better chance to push legislation through.

Liberal members of Congress from both parties are fighting now to eliminate rules which block liberal legislation in general and in the field of civil right in particular. Among the measures suggested by proponents of civil rights legislation is the establishment of a Federal fair employment practices commission which would have authority of sanctions.

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