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Attorney General Backs Bill Easing Immigration Laws for Aliens Here over Five Years

April 30, 1947
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Attorney General Tom Clark, testifying before the House Judiciary Committee today, gave his full support to the Fellows Bill, which would grant him broad discretion in certain cases involving deportation of aliens.

Clark told the committee that he was very anxious that it should design some legislation which would allow him broader discretion in adjusting the status of deserving aliens. The bill would enable the Attorney General to suspend deportation in the case of an alien “of good moral character” who has resided in this country for five or more years or, if racially ineligible for naturalization, to remove that bar if the alien has been here for seven years or if his deportation would cause economic detriment to his dependents.

Ugo Carusi, Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization, told the committee that the number of aliens affected would likely be very small. He estimated that the bill would cover about 1,000 or 1,500 cases a year for the first two or three years and then decrease measurably.

Clark told the committee that he thought there should be a statute of limitations on acts involving violation of the immigration laws just as there is for other offenses. He saw no reason, he said, why a man should remain deportable all his life even though he may have entered the country illegally.

The bill provides that quota numbers to legalize the entry of such aliens be taken from the current year’s quota. Clark pointed out that while this would detract from the number of available quota numbers, it did mean that we would know what we were getting in the case of the alien who has lived here and already proved himself, whereas under the quota system, no one could tell what kind of a citizen an immigrant would make when he entered the country.

Clark said he favored a suggestion made by committee member Ed Gossett, Democrat, of Texas, to limit the introduction of private bills to those cases where the Attorney General certified that there was no provision for administrative relief.

Asked about testimony of a representative of the American Legion, who said his group flatly opposed any further immigration of any sort, Clark remarked that he was pretty sure” they did not understand the meaning of the bill and said he wished he could talk to them about it.

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