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Celler Would Authorize Attorney-general to Admit Russian Jews on Parole

March 12, 1968
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Rep. Emanuel Celler, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, told a Madison Square Garden rally tonight that the United States immigration laws should be revised to permit admission of Jews from the Soviet Union if and when they are allowed to leave. The rally was organized by the American League for Russian Jews. A pageant with music was presented to dramatize the plight of Soviet Jewry.

“During the Nazi years, we kept our immigration barriers strongly in place because we didn’t believe,” Rep. Celler declared. “There is one thing we must do now and that is to make it possible – now – that should there be an exodus from Russia, our laws be so shaped that we can, in a minimum of time, permit a goodly portion of the Jews of Russia to enter this land of asylum, just as we did in the case of the fleeing Hungarians and Cubans. For we must support and keep to the hope that Kosygin, who at one time expressed the willingness to permit Jews to join their families elsewhere, would keep his word, if not through any sense of honor, then through a sense of shame induced by the volume of protest.”

The New Yorker said that “it is my purpose in legislation I have already introduced, to prepare for such emergency. I do this by proposing to give the Attorney General discretion to permit entries by parolling people into the United States. We act outside of any inflexible numerical limitation or percentage.”

Congressman Celler told the demonstrators that “we must be ready should the Soviet Union, by some miracle, by some twist in its devious political machinations, respond to the cry. ‘Let my people go!’ Above all,” he concluded, “let us not be silent, whether as a government, whether as a people, whether as Jews.”

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