The Immigration Act of and the Creation of a Modern, Diverse America | HuffPost
Fifty years ago, Congress passed one of the most important civil rights laws of our time--the Immigration and Nationality Act. Largely. Accusations of liberal bias at The New York Times date back decades, and of the watershed Immigration and Nationality Act of were particularly slanted — and slack. If the Hart-Celler Act of was immigration reform's Original Sin, the Times .. Email Gmail AOL Mail norskskovkat.info Yahoo Mail. Asian immigration to central North America predates the existence of the United States. In , Congress amended the Nationality Act of that originally stated, .. Code was amended on that date to include a prohibition against “ Malays. . things for Asian Americans, most notably with the Immigration Act of
The story's lede reported that: President Johnson, speaking in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, announced today that he would open the nation's gates to all Cubans who wanted to escape the regime of Fidel Castro and "seek freedom" in the United States. Emanuel Cellar John Higham described the Johnson-Reed Act as a "blatantly discriminatory" effort "to freeze the existing balance of ethnic strains in the total American population" by sharply restricting the arrival of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe.
He became a member of the House of Representatives in and fought the Johnson-Reed Act from the start. Celler kept fighting for 41 years until he was able to attach his name to legislation that erased the national-origins system.
While agreeing that Congress needed to establish limits on immigration, Celler was bitterly opposed to a system whose advocates talked of defending a "distinct American type" and "keeping America for Americans". The "inferior complex" is now extended to all Europe, save Nordics. The Austrian rubbing elbows with the Norwegian in the subway or on the street is beset with emotions of inferiority.
The Hart-Celler Immigration Act of | Center for Immigration Studies
His pride surges within him. He resents the stigma placed upon him. Surely he does not view the favored one with complacency.
Does he not rather view him with hatred?
And so race is set against race, class against class 24 Celler's combativeness grew from his affection for the immigrant strivers who lived in his district. I knew, also, their pride, the unfulfilled dream of independence that had first brought them here. In the Cold War era of the s, he opposed the McCarran-Walter Act, whose advocates said it was needed to protect the country from subversives from abroad.
The prevailing national mood in the early s was conservative and isolationist.
Who can be excluded as an immigrant to the United States?
It was a trying time for liberal advocates of immigration reform. One militant critic on the right mocked them as "the usual claque of innocent dupes who don't know what they are doing — the gulliberals — who have always done the work of the Communist Party. Joseph McCarthy — gave way to the liberal activism of the s, whose galvanizing figure was the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celler, as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, played an important role in passage of the Civil Rights Act ofwhose explicit prohibition of discrimination by national origin became a predicate for immigration reform.
But progress stalled as Celler engaged in what became a notorious Capitol Hill feud with the chairman of the Judiciary Committee's immigration subcommittee, an ardent anti-communist and immigration skeptic from Ohio named Michael Feighan.
The communist threat was not the only concern of those who resisted changes to the national origins quota system. The early s was a time of growing alarm about what the New York Times described as "the explosive rate of the growth of the world's population". A former chairman of the Federal Reserve System described the population boom as the "most vitally important problem facing the world today," warning that it "may well prove to be more explosive than the atomic or hydrogen bomb.
Citing projections that the world's population would double to more than six billion by the end of the century, it observed that the demographic boom "imposes a severe burden on efforts to raise the miserably low standards of living of two-thirds of the world's people. The reform advocates responded with a disciplined messaging strategy. Uniting in the insistence that their proposal would allow only minimal growth of immigration, they played up the symbolic importance of erasing the old system.
Celler, for example, dismissed concerns about immigration-driven population growth as "totally irrelevant since the bill before you in no way significantly increases the basic numbers of immigrants to be permitted entry. We are not talking about increased immigration; we are talking about equality of opportunity for all peoples to reach this promised land.
Michael Feighan In early Ohio Democrat Michael Feighan, chairman of the House immigration subcommittee, delivered what he would call his "bombshell" 32 speech to the 36th annual conference of the American Coalition of Patriotic Societies, a conservative group that supported the national origins quota system of immigration law.
Feighan, who had used his position at the immigration subcommittee to stall the Johnson administration's push for reform, proposed an alternative plan.
He would go along with abolition of the national origins system. But as part of the deal he wanted a new system whose first priority would be family unification, not boosting the nation's supply of skilled workers.
Feighan sought to win over conservative groups by demonstrating that the old system had been rendered useless by special legislation — including thousands of "private bills" to aid individuals and families — that swelled the numbers of immigrants not covered by the quotas.
The administration had proposed reserving 50 percent of the immigrant visas for persons with needed skills. Feighan's legislation allocated 74 percent to family visas, including so many for siblings that it was dubbed "the Brothers and Sisters Act". Celler blocked the funding, suspecting that Feighan would turn the inquiry into a witch hunt for communist influence in U. Feighan's colleagues regard him as temperamental and unpredictable and bracket him vaguely with 'the right wing cranks," the New York Times reported.
President Johnson also weighed in. During a campaign visit to Cleveland that year, he also reprimanded the local congressman for delaying the bill. It not only endeared him to labor unions that did not want a soft labor market for employers of skilled workers, but also won the gratitude of ethnic organizations that represented his district's large population of voters with relatives in eastern Europe.
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The archives of Feighan's documents at Princeton, his alma mater, show the importance of the ethnic groups to his narrow primary win. A letter from the Committee of Serbian Organizations of Cuyahoga County announced their unanimous endorsement of Feighan.
The archive also shows that Feighan was under pressure from an Italian-American organization that had been frustrated by his lack of enthusiasm for reforming a system that "blatantly brands us second-class citizens". Conservative and patriotic groups like the American Legion expressed satisfaction with his assurance that it would maintain the old, familiar pattern of immigration that had been eroded in recent years.
An article in the American Legion Magazine assured readers: That effort would fail, but concerns about population growth would live on. In a speech delivered at the City Club of Cleveland in the spring ofFeighan cited a column by influential national political commentator Eric Sevareid who spoke of "fast-running population growth" as a national problem and expressed concern about theimmigrants the United States was taking every year.
The bill's conservative foes raised the issue. Its liberal supporters were successful in dismissing it. Meanwhile, the press gave credence to the predictions that the legislation would not change the sources of the immigrant flows. A Washington Post editorial said Feighan's move to prioritize family relationships over skills "had more emotional appeal and, perhaps more to the point, insured that the new immigration pattern would not stray radically from the old one.
Edward Kennedy marveled at the accomplishment. This time it was easy. Perhaps the most important was the landslide election ofafter which the Democrats held 68 seats in the Senate and seats in the House.
The switch of Rep. Michael Feighan from resistance to cooperation was key in the House. In the Senate, much of credit went to the political and personal skill of the year-old Kennedy, who had been elected just three years earlier to the seat once held by his brother John. One of the elements of Kennedy's success was his good working relationship with the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Mississippi Democrat James Eastland.
Eastland, a notorious segregationist, had long fought to uphold the system put in place in But in the summer ofthe New York Times reported Eastland had said "that he would do nothing to block the administration's measure, and turned over public hearings of the bill to one of its strongest advocates, Edward M. Kennedy was particularly effective in winning the trust of the Judiciary Committee's most articulate and committed defender of the old system, North Carolina Democrat Sam Ervin.
Ervin favored special recognition of those "groups who historically had the greatest influence in building the nation". He described the national-origins system as a benign "mirror reflecting the United States". Edward Kennedy's ability to develop friendships with those who resisted the change, particularly powerful southern Democrats, enabled him to defuse tensions like those that developed between Ervin and Kennedy's brother, Robert Kennedy, who had been elected to the Senate from New York in The intensity of Robert Kennedy's dislike of the national-origins system brought advantages and disadvantages to the reform effort.
On the one hand, he was an eloquent spokesman for the proposition that the old system was unjust. On the other, he was temperamentally incapable of concealing his frustration with Ervin's views. Edward Kennedy managed to smooth things over. As described by biographer Burton Hersh, he "ostentatiously pinned a shamrock on Sam Ervin's lapel on Saint Patrick's Day, very soon after Bobby had riled up the old Dixie autocrat.
There he appears to have benefitted from Rep.
The 1965 Immigration Reforms and The New York Times: Context, Coverage, and Long-Term Consequences
Feighan's research showing that Congress so frequently passed legislation to circumvent the quotas that the national origins system had become dysfunctional. Hacker, of a group called the New Jersey Coalition. Warning against lowering the barriers to entry at a time of a worldwide population boom, she told a Senate hearing: In light of our 5 percent unemployment rate, our worries over the so-called population explosion, and our menacingly mounting welfare costs, are we prepared to embrace so great a horde of the world's unfortunates?
At the very least, the hidden mathematics of the bill should be made clear to the public so that they may tell their congressmen how they feel about providing jobs, schools, homes, security against want, citizen education, and a brotherly welcome It issued a "Blue Book" that advised reform advocates to stick to the message that their measure "leaves the present authorized level of immigration substantially unchanged.
And in the Senate, Edward Kennedy offered this assurance: It will not upset the ethnic mix of our society. It will not relax the standards of admission. It will not cause American workers to lose their jobs. Steven Gillon reported that "neither Congress nor the White House had carefully analyzed the potential impact of the family preference system.
Edward Kennedy helped the bill clear a final obstacle by accepting the demand of Ervin and Senator Minority leader Everett Dirksen that it include a cap on immigration from the Western Hemisphere. When the bill became law, Ervin had high praise for his young colleague. He wrote that the legislation would have taken a different course "had it not been for the tact and the understanding and the devotion which the senator from Massachusetts gave to the bill.
In his book America in Search of Itself, White first described the legislation as "noble". Then he contradicted President Johnson's signing-day assurance that it was "not a revolutionary bill". White said the bill was "revolutionary and probably the most thoughtless of the many acts of the Great Society.
Its success in Congress was a demonstration of how much the nation had changed from the days when conservatives smeared immigration-reforming liberals as communist dupes and "gulliberals" and when frankly segregationist views were commonplace. Today, the prevailing ideological boot is on the other foot.
As early aswhen the New York Times reported that "the extent of the change" in immigration because of the new law had surprised nearly everyone, it quoted someone who said corrective action was not likely because "congressmen don't want to look like racists. The congressional testimony of Myra Hacker, who along with other opponents of the bill questioned the mathematics of the legislation, was noted in a mere six-paragraph item.
It trained a particularly adoring eye on fledgling Senator Ted Kennedy. This lengthy profile, however, failed in any way to examine the social, cultural, and economic implications of the legislation Kennedy was driving.
Earlier that summer, an editorial chastised Cleveland Democratic Representative Michael Feighan as being unsympathetic to the bill and for favoring a more restrictionist bill of his own. In the decade of the s, Europe and Canada sent 20 percent of legal immigrants and Latin America and Asia sent 77 percent, a pattern that has continued through the s, s, and into the s.
And the ethnic mix of America has been radically altered, with implications that reach into every corner of our policy-making and our politics at the local, state, national, and international levels.
And while no subsequent immigration reform debates have generated coverage quite so egregiously one-sided and myopic, since the Times has failed to report on various immigration debates with needed balance and rigor. Inside the New New York Times.
Villard Books,p. Tifft and Alex S.