Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Eisenhower Asks Congress to Liberalize Immigration Legislation

February 1, 1957
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

President Eisenhower asked Congress today for liberalizing changes in the McCarran-Walter Immigration Act. His recommendations would allow more Southern European and Mediterranean peoples to immigrate to this country. The President also called for permanent legislation to give haven to refugees “who have fled or in the future flee” Communist persecution.

In a message to Congress, the President said that the application of the McCarran-Walter Act has demonstrated that “certain provisions operate inequitably and others are outmoded in the world of today.” He called for a re-examination of the national origins quota system and expressed faith that Congress will continue to “study” the system with a view towards its change.

He asked immediately, however, that “interim measures” be acted upon. He called for a general revision of the law to allow about 65,000 more immigrants to come to this country each year. This would be made possible by basing the quota on the 1950 census of population rather than the 1920 census which allows a maximum of 154, 857 immigrants each year. He also asked for a redistribution of immigrant quotas in proportion to the actual immigration” to the U. S. from 1924 to 1955. This would benefit Southern and Easterb Europeans since practically immigration from these areas have been heaviest.

The President called for a “pooling” of unused quotas by areas–Europe, Africa. Asia, and the Pacific Oceanic area–to be distributed on a first come, first serve basis without regard to country of birth within the area.” If this measure were passed Southern and Eastern Europeans would also benefit by this provision since unused quota umbers from Northern European countries would be redistributed to Southern and Eastern European countries. In the past, countries like England and Ireland have used only a small percentage of the total quota number allotted.

The President also called for the elimination of “mortgages” on quotas resulting under the now defunct Displaced Persons Act and for special provisions to admit orphans into the country.

Recommended from JTA