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Senate Immigration Committee Holds Meeting on Wadsworth-perlman Bill

March 21, 1926
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(Jewish Daily Bulletin)

Henry H. Curran, until recently Immigration Commissioner at New York, appeared as the principal advocate of the Wadsworth-Pearlman bill to admit as non-quota immigrants the fathers and mothers and minor children of residents of the United States, when the measure was taken up today by the Senate Immigration Committee.

Those who entered this country to July 1, 1924, and are citizens or have applied for naturalization papers, would be allowed to bring over their parents or children under the terms of the bill. It would also similarly admit relatives of those who served in the American Army during the World War.

“So many inquiries,” he said, “have come to me about the Wadsworth-Perlman Immigration bill now in Congress, asking my opinion of it from the point of view of administrative experience, that I want to say publicly that I am wholly in favor of the bill. In fact, I went over it very carefully with Senator Wadsworth before he introduced it and later with Representative Perlman.

“The bill follows directly a suggestion of President Coolidge in his last message to Congress. Also, it conforms to our country’s settled policy of strictly limiting the number of immigrants who may come here, and carefully examining, for individual fitness, each one of those who does come. For my own part, I strongly favor any law that will give us fewer and better immigrants, and have always supported any legislation to that end.

“But our last limiting law on immigration, which took effect July 1, 1924, was enacted very suddenly, and for that reason it unintentionally slammed our front door in the faces of a moderate number of immediate families of immigrants already admitted to the United States–and also, I am sorry to say, in the faces of a number of veterans of the World War who served in the United States Army or Navy.

“Some of those wives and children of immigrants already here cannot come over to join the husband and father in America for several years to come. The father, who came alone, pioneering, to make a little home for his family to come to later was, in many cases, caught, hopelessly, by the radical and abrupt reduction in the size of some of the quotas. I believe that such families should be reunited on our side of the ocean and at once.

“Of course, the father who has come since July 1, 1924, has done so with his eyes open, and requires no relief; and that is true also of all such who arrive in the future. There are not many such, nor will there be. The family is more likely to come altogether, nowadays.

“But the fathers who came before July 1, 1924, are entitled, in my opinion, to have their families given to them here without delay, as a matter of the most ordinary justice and humanity. Families should be together, for the good of society as well as their own good. The Wadsworth-Perlman bill accomplishes this.

“I know of an Italian who became an American citizen, who then served at the front in France in our American Army in the World War, was honorably discharged on his return to the United States, went over to Italy to attend his old father and mother in their dying days, then married the love of his childhood there, then achieved two babies, and is now trying in vain to be re-admitted to our country, for which he fought in the Argonne, and bring his young wife and babies along after him.

“I know of his service, because my division, the 77th, was relieved by his division, the 78th, in the Argonne. But now his American citizenship is questioned because of his long stay in Italy, and there is grave doubt whether he can come into our country to stay permanently unless he waits for years to take his turn as an alien in the Italian quota.

“The Wadsworth-Perlman bill allows this honorably discharged American veteran to come in at once–alien or no alien–and to bring his wife and babies with him. I am sure that no American will deny the justice and Americanism of allowing this soldier, who is one of our own, to come back–to stay–in the American land for which he fought in France. Yet perhaps he cannot do that for years, unless the Wadsworth-Perlman bill goes through. This case arose only a week ago, and is still pending,” Mr. Curran declared.

Senator Wadsworth and John Thomas Taylor of the American Legion also spoke for the measure. Mr. Curran said the bill would affect about 40,000 aliens who would be admissible despite the quota restrictions.

“Immigrants who served in our army,” he told the committee, “ought to be permitted to bring their wives and children here. It is the only way to keep them contented and from stirring up grievances against the Immigration Law of 1924. And it is an act of justice to these men who loved America enough to fight her battles.”

No opposition to the bill developed during today’s session. Mr. Taylor said the bill had the backing of the American Legion and estimated it would afford relief to some 15,000 relatives of war veterans. State Department estimates were that the measure would admit more than 600,000 aliens. Mr. Curran characterized this estimate as “entirely unfounded.”

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