Reply to CSULB History Department Statement
Jewish Involvement in Influencing U.S. Immigration Policy
The History Department has released a statement condemning my work. In particular, the Department states: “He argues that the 1965 U.S. Immigration Law was “the ultimate triumph of the Jewish policy on immigration” without ever examining the legislative history of the bill or the actual Congressional debates over it.”
If one looks at the text and notes to this chapter, it is quite obvious that I read the Congressional debates over U.S. immigration law beginning in the 1920’s right up to 1965. In view of this, I demand that the History Department issue a retraction. I present a list of footnotes and text references referring to these debates below.
But before I list my references, I want to point out that the conclusions of my research have been supported and amplified by Vanderbilt University historian Hugh Davis Graham:
Most important for the content of immigration reform [i.e., anti-restrictionism], the driving force at the core of the movement, reaching back to the 1920s, were Jewish organizations long active in opposing racial and ethnic quotas. These included the American Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, and the American Federation of Jews from Eastern Europe. Jewish members of the Congress, particularly representatives from New York and Chicago, had maintained steady but largely ineffective pressure against the national origins quotas since the 1920s.... Following the shock of the Holocaust, Jewish leaders had been especially active in Washington in furthering immigration reform. To the public, the most visible evidence of the immigration reform drive was played by Jewish legislative leaders, such as Representative Celler and Senator Jacob Javits of New York. Less visible, but equally important, were the efforts of key advisers on presidential and agency staffs. These included senior policy advisers such as Julius Edelson and Harry Rosenfield in the Truman administration, Maxwell Rabb in the Eisenhower White House, and presidential aide Myer Feldman, assistant secretary of state Abba Schwartz, and deputy attorney general Norbert Schlei in the Kennedy-Johnson administration. (Hugh Davis Graham, Collision Course: The Strange Convergence of Affirmative Action and Immigration Policy in America (New York, Oxford University Press, 2002, pp. 56–57).
Research on the Jewish Role in Influencing U.S. Immigration Policy
I consulted Jewish publications from the 1920s to the 1960s (e.g., American Hebrew, Congress Weekly and Congress Bi-Weekly [published by the American Jewish Congress], Commentary [published by the American Jewish Committee]) by visiting libraries at UC-Berkeley and UCLA. For example, “The immigration debate also occurred amid discussion in the Jewish media of Thorsten Veblen’s famous essay “The intellectual pre-eminence of Jews in modern Europe” (serialized in The American Hebrew beginning September 10, 1920). In an editorial of July 13, 1923 (p. 177), The American Hebrew noted that Jews were disproportionately represented among the gifted in Louis Terman’s study of gifted children and commented that ‘this fact must give rise to bitter, though futile, reflection among the so-called Nordics.’”
I also consulted other relevant periodicals: For example: p. 273: Public discussion in periodicals such as The Nation (Nov. 19, 1938) and The New Republic (Nov. 23, 1938) charged that the restrictionism was motivated by anti-Semitism, whereas opponents of admitting large numbers of Jews argued that admission would result in an increase in anti-Semitism. Henry Pratt Fairchild (1939, 344), who was a restrictionist and was highly critical of Jews generally (see Fairchild 1947), emphasized the “powerful current of anti-foreignism and anti-Semitism that is running close to the surface of the American public mind, ready to burst out into violent eruption on relatively slight provocation.” Public opinion remained steadfast against increasing the quotas for European refugees: A 1939 poll in Fortune (April 1939) showed that 83 percent answered no to the following question: “If you were a member of Congress would you vote yes or no on a bill to open the doors of the United States to a larger number of European refugees than now admitted under our immigration quotas?”
I also referenced Jewish intellectuals who wrote about immigration policy during the period (e.g., Horace Kallen, Oscar Handlin, Richard Hofstadtder, Max Lerner, Maurice Samuel).
I also consulted numerous secondary sources, including:
Bennett, M. T. (1963). American Immigration Policies: A History. Washington, DC: Public Affairs Press.
———. (1966). The immigration and nationality (McCarran-Walter) Act of 1952, as amended to 1965. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 367:127–136.
Belth, N. C. (1979). A Promise to Keep. New York: Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith/Times Books.
Breitman, R. D., & Kraut, A. M. (1986). Anti-Semitism in the State Department, 1933–44: Four case studies. In Anti-Semitism in American History, ed. D. A. Gerber. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
———. (1987). American Refugee Policy and European Jewry, 1933–1945. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Cohen, N. W. (1972). Not Free to Desist: The American Jewish Committee, 1906–1966. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America.
Divine, R. A. (1957). American Immigration Policy, 1924–1952. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Konvitz, M. (1953). Civil Rights in Immigration. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
———. (1978). The quest for equality and the Jewish experience. In Jewish Life in America, ed. G. Rosen. New York: Institute of Human Relations Press of the American Jewish Committee.
Neuringer, S. M. (1971). American Jewry and United States Immigration Policy, 1881–1953. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 1969. Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms. (Reprinted by Arno Press, 1980.)
References to Congressional Hearings
References in Footnotes
4. Restriction of Immigration, Hearings before the Committee on Immigration and Naturalization House of Representatives, 68th Congress, 1st Sess., Jan. 5, 1924, 571.
6. Statement of the AJCongress, Joint Hearings Before the Subcommittees of the Committees on the Judiciary, 82nd Congress, 1st Sess., on S. 716, H.R. 2379, and H.R. 2816. March 6–April 9, 1951, 391.
7. Statement of the AJCongress, Joint Hearings Before the Subcommittees of the Committees on the Judiciary, 82nd Cong., 1st Sess., on S. 716, H.R. 2379, and H.R. 2816. March 6–April 9, 1951, 402–403.
Naturalization House of Representatives, sixty-eighth Cong., 1st Sess., Jan. 3, 1924, 309, 303.
11. Restriction of Immigration; Hearings Before the Committee on Immigration and Naturalization House of Representatives, sixty-eighth Cong., 1st Sess., Jan. 3, 1924, 341.
12. For example, in the Senate debates of April 15–19, 1924, Nordic superiority was not mentioned by any of the proponents of the legislation but was mentioned by the following opponents of the legislation: Senators Colt (p. 6542), Reed (p. 6468), Walsh (p. 6355). In the House debates of April 5, 8, and 15, virtually all the opponents of the legislation raised the racial inferiority issue, including Representatives Celler (pp. 5914–5915), Clancy (p. 5930), Connery (p. 5683), Dickstein (pp. 5655–5656, 5686), Gallivan (p. 5849), Jacobstein (p. 5864), James (p. 5670), Kunz (p. 5896), LaGuardia (p. 5657), Mooney (pp. 5909–5910), O’Connell (p. 5836), O’Connor (p. 5648), Oliver (p. 5870), O’Sullivan (p. 5899), Perlman (p. 5651), Sabath (pp. 5651, 5662), and Tague (p. 5873). Several representatives (e.g., Reps. Dickinson [p. 6267], Garber [pp. 5689–5693] and Smith [p. 5705]) contrasted the positive characteristics of the Nordic immigrants with the negative characteristics of more recent immigrants without distinguishing genetic from environmental reasons as possible influences. They, along with several others, noted that recent immigrants had not assimilated and they tended to cluster in urban areas. Representative Allen argued that there is a “necessity for purifying and keeping pure the blood of America” (p. 5693). Representative McSwain, who argued for the need to preserve Nordic hegemony, did so not on the basis of Nordic superiority but on the basis of legitimate ethnic self-interest (pp. 5683–5685; see also comments of Reps. Lea and Miller). Rep. Gasque introduced a newspaper article discussing the swamping of the race that had built America (p. 6270).
13. Restriction of Immigration, Hearings before the Committee on Immigration and Naturalization House of Representatives, 68th Cong., 1st Sess., Jan. 3, 1924, 351.
15. Hearings before the Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, House of Representatives, May 24–June 1, 1939: Joint Resolutions to Authorize the Admission to the United States of a Limited Number of German Refugee Children, 1.
Representatives, May 24–June 1, 1939: Joint Resolutions to Authorize the Admission to the United States of a Limited Number of German Refugee Children, 78.
17. Hearings before the Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, House of Representatives, May 24–June 1, 1939: Joint Resolutions to Authorize the Admission to the United States of a Limited Number of German Refugee Children, 140.
18. Statement of the AJCongress, Joint Hearings before the Subcommittees of the Committees on the Judiciary, 82nd Cong., 1st Sess., on S. 716, H.R. 2379, and H.R. 2816, March 6–April 9, 1951, 565.
19. Statement of the AJCongress, Joint Hearings before the Subcommittees of the Committees on the Judiciary, 82nd Cong., 1st Sess., on S. 716, H.R. 2379, and H.R. 2816, March 6–April 9, 1951, 566. See also statement of Rabbi Bernard J. Bamberger, President of the Synagogue Council of America; see also the statement of the AJCon-gress, 560–561.
20. Statement of Will Maslow representing the AJCongress, Joint Hearings before the Subcommittees of the Committees on the Judiciary, 82nd Cong., 1st Sess., on S. 716, H.R. 2379, and H.R. 2816, March 6-April 9, 1951, 394.
21. Joint Hearings Before the Subcommittees of the Committees on the Judiciary, 82nd Cong., 1st Sess., on S. 716, H.R. 2379, and H.R. 2816, March 6–April 9, 1951, 562–595.
22. Joint Hearings Before the Subcommittees of the Committees on the Judiciary, 82nd Cong., 1st Sess., on S. 716, H.R. 2379, and H.R. 2816, March 6–April 9, 1951, 410.
23. Joint Hearings Before the Subcommittees of the Committees on the Judiciary, 82nd Cong., 1st Sess., on S. 716, H.R. 2379, and H.R. 2816, March 6–April 9, 1951, 404.
25. Joint Hearings Before the Subcommittees of the Committees on the Judiciary, 82nd Cong., 1st Sess., on S. 716, H.R. 2379, and H.R. 2816, March 6–April 9, 1951, 563.
References in the text
p. 251: Carl Degler (1991, 74) notes that Boas’s professional correspon-dence “reveals that an important motive behind his famous head-measuring project in 1910 was his strong personal interest in keeping the United States diverse in population.” The study, whose conclusions were placed into the Congressional Record by Representative Emanuel Celler during the debate on immigration restriction (Cong. Rec., April 8, 1924, 5915–5916), concluded that the environmental differences consequent to immigration caused differ-ences in head shape.
p. 254: By 1965 Senator Jacob Javits (Cong. Rec., 111, 1965, 24469) could confidently announce to the Senate during the debate on the immigration bill that “both the dictates of our consciences as well as the precepts of sociologists tell us that immigration, as it exists in the national origins quota system, is wrong and without any basis in reason or fact for we know better than to say that one man is better than another because of the color of his skin.”
p. 254: In 1952 another Boas protégé, Margaret Mead, testified before the President’s Commission on Immigration and Naturalization (PCIN) (1953, 92) that “all human beings from all groups of people have the same potentialities. . . . Our best anthropo-logical evidence today suggests that the people of every group have about the same distribution of potentialities.” Another witness stated that the executive board of the American Anthropological Association had unanimously en-dorsed the proposition that “[a]ll scientific evidence indicates that all peoples are inherently capable of acquiring or adapting to our civilization” (PCIN 1953, 93).
p. 264: In remarks before the Senate, the anti-restrictionist Senator Reed of Missouri noted, “Attacks have likewise been made upon the Jewish people who have crowded to our shores. The spirit of intolerance has been especially active as to them” (Cong. Rec., Feb. 19, 1921, 3463).
p. 265: Likewise in the Senate, Senator McKellar cited the report that if there were a ship large enough, three million Poles would immi-grate. He also stated that “the Joint Distribution Committee, an American committee doing relief work among the Hebrews in Poland, distributes more than $1,000,000 per month of American money in that country alone. It is also shown that $100,000,000 a year is a conservative estimate of money sent to Poland from America through the mails, through the banks, and through the relief societies. This golden stream pouring into Poland from America makes practically every Pole wildly desirous of going to the country from which such marvelous wealth comes” (Cong. Rec., Feb. 19, 1921, 3456).
pp. 265–266: Minors have grown into adult years with the entire period lost in their rightful development and too frequently with the acquisition of perverted ideas which have flooded Europe since 1914 [presumably a reference to radical political ideas that were common in this group; see below]” (Cong. Rec., April 20, 1921, 498). The report also described the condition of the prospective immigrants in negative terms: “At the present time it is only too obvious that they must be subnormal, and their normal state is of very low standard. Six years of war and confusion and famine and pestilence have racked their bodies and twisted their mentality. The elders have deteriorated to a marked degree.”
p. 266: In response, Representative Isaac Siegel stated that the report was “edited and doctored by certain officials”; he commented that the report did not mention countries with larger numbers of immigrants than Poland. (For example, the report did not mention Italy.) Without explicitly saying so (“I leave it to every man in the House to make his own deductions and his own inferences therefrom” [Cong. Rec., April 20, 1921, 504]), the implication was that the focus on Poland was prompted by anti-Semitism.
p. 266: The House Majority Report (signed by 15 of its 17 members with only Reps. Dickstein and Sabath not signing) also emphasized the Jewish role in defining the intellectual battle in terms of Nordic superiority and “American ideals” rather than in the terms of an ethnic status quo actually favored by the committee:
The cry of discrimination is, the committee believes, manufactured and built up by special representatives of racial groups, aided by aliens actually living abroad. Mem-bers of the committee have taken notice of a report in the Jewish Tribune (New York) February 8, 1924, of a farewell dinner to Mr. Israel Zangwill which says:
Mr. Zangwill spoke chiefly on the immigration question, declaring that if Jews persisted in a strenuous opposition to the restricted immigration there would be no restriction. “If you create enough fuss against this Nordic nonsense,” he said, “you will defeat this legislation. You must make a fight against this bill; tell them they are destroying American ideals. Most fortifications are of cardboard, and if you press against them, they give way.”
The Committee does not feel that the restriction aimed to be accomplished in this bill is directed at the Jews, for they can come within the quotas from any country in which they were born. The Committee has not dwelt on the desirability of a “Nordic” or any other particular type of immigrant, but has held steadfastly to the purpose of securing a heavy restriction, with the quota so divided that the countries from which the most came in the two decades ahead of the World War might be slowed down in order that the United States might restore its population balance. The continued charge that the Committee has built up a “Nordic” race and devoted its hearing to that end is part of a deliberately manufactured assault for as a matter of fact the committee has done nothing of the kind. (House Rep. No. 350, 1924, 16)
p. 267: After a particularly colorful comment in opposition to the theory of Nordic racial superiority, restrictionist leader Albert Johnson remarked, “I would like very much to say on behalf of the committee that through the strenuous times of the hearings this committee undertook not to discuss the Nordic proposition or racial matters” (Cong. Rec., April 8, 1924, 5911). Earlier, during the hearings on the bill, Johnson remarked in response to the comments of Rabbi Stephen S. Wise representing the AJCongress, “I dislike to be placed continu-ally in the attitude of assuming that there is a race prejudice, when the one thing I have tried to do for 11 years is to free myself from race prejudice, if I had it at all.”13 Several restrictionists explicitly denounced the theory of Nordic superiority, including Senators Bruce (p. 5955) and Jones (p. 6614) and Representatives Bacon (p. 5902), Byrnes (p. 5653), Johnson (p. 5648), McLoed (pp. 5675–5676), McReynolds (p. 5855), Michener (p. 5909), Miller (p. 5883), Newton (p. 6240), Rosenbloom (p. 5851), Vaile (p. 5922), Vincent (p. 6266), White, (p. 5898), and Wilson (p. 5671; all references to Cong. Rec., April 1924).
p. 267: Indeed, it is noteworthy that there are indications in the congressional de-bate that representatives from the far West were concerned about the compe-tence and competitive threat presented by Japanese immigrants, and their rhetoric suggests they viewed the Japanese as racially equal or superior, not inferior. For example, Senator Jones stated, “We admit that [the Japanese] are as able as we are, that they are as progressive as we are, that they are as honest as we are, that they are as brainy as we are, and that they are equal in all that goes to make a great people and nation” (Cong. Rec., April 18, 1924, 6614); Representative MacLafferty emphasized Japanese domination of certain agricultural markets (Cong. Rec., April 5, 1924, p. 5681), and Representative Lea noted their ability to supplant “their American competitor” (Cong. Rec., April 5, 1924, 5697). Representative Miller described the Japanese as “a relentless and unconquerable competitor of our people wherever he places himself ” (Cong. Rec., April 8, 1924, 5884); see also comments of Representa-tives Gilbert (Cong. Rec., April 12, 1924, 6261), Raker (Cong. Rec., April 8, 1924, 5892), and Free (Cong. Rec., April 8, 1924, 5924ff).
p. 268: In the 1924 debates, however, the only Congressional comments suggesting a concern with Jewish-gentile resource competition (as well as a concern that Jewish immigrants were alienated from the cultural traditions of America and tended to have a destructive influence) that I have been able to find are the following from Representative Wefald:
I for one am not afraid of the radical ideas that some might bring with them. Ideas you cannot keep out anyway, but the leadership of our intellectual life in many of its phases has come into the hands of these clever newcomers who have no sympathy with our old-time American ideals nor with those of northern Europe, who detect our weak-nesses and pander to them and get wealthy through the disservices they render us.
Our whole system of amusements has been taken over by men who came here on the crest of the south and east European immigration. They produce our horrible film stories, they compose and dish out to us our jazz music, they write many of the books we read, and edit our magazines and newspapers. (Cong. Rec., April 12, 1924, 6272)
p. 269: Restrictionists noted that the census of 1890 was chosen because the percentages of the foreign born of different ethnic groups in that year approximated the general ethnic composition of the entire country in 1920. Senator Reed of Pennsylvania and Representative Rogers of Massachusetts proposed to achieve the same result by directly basing the quotas on the national origins of all people in the country as of the 1920 census, and this was eventually incorporated into law. Representative Rogers argued, “Gentlemen, you can not dissent from this principle because it is fair. It does not discriminate for anybody and it does not discriminate against anybody” (Cong. Rec., April 8, 1924, 5847). Senator Reed noted, “The pur-pose, I think, of most of us in changing the quota basis is to cease from dis-criminating against the native born here and against the group of our citizens who come from northern and western Europe. I think the present system discriminates in favor of southeastern Europe” (Cong. Rec., April. 16, 1924, 6457) (i.e., because 46 percent of the quotas under the 1921 law went to Eastern and Southern Europe when they constituted less than 12 percent of the population).
p. 269–270: As an example illustrating the fundamental argument asserting a legitimate ethnic interest in maintaining an ethnic status quo without claiming racial superiority, consider the following statement from Representative William N. Vaile of Colorado, one of the most prominent restrictionists:
Let me emphasize here that the restrictionists of Congress do not claim that the “Nordic” race, or even the Anglo-Saxon race, is the best race in the world. Let us concede, in all fairness that the Czech is a more sturdy laborer, with a very low percentage of crime and insanity, that the Jew is the best businessman in the world, and that the Italian has a spiritual grasp and an artistic sense which have greatly enriched the world and which have, indeed, enriched us, a spiritual exaltation and an artistic creative sense which the Nordic rarely attains. Nordics need not be vain about their own qualifications. It well behooves them to be humble. What we do claim is that the northern European, and particularly Anglo-Saxons made this country. Oh, yes; the others helped. But that is the full statement of the case. They came to this country because it was already made as an Anglo-Saxon commonwealth. They added to it, they often enriched it, but they did not make it, and they have not yet greatly changed it. We are determined that they shall not. It is a good country. It suits us. And what we assert is that we are not going to surrender it to somebody else or allow other people, no matter what their merits, to make it something different. If there is any changing to be done, we will do it ourselves. (Cong. Rec., April 8, 1924, 5922)
p. 270: The debate in the House also illustrated the highly salient role of Jewish legislators in combating restrictionism. Representative Robison singled out Representative Sabath as the leader of anti-restrictionist efforts; without mentioning any other opponent of restriction, he also focused on Representa-tives Jacobstein, Celler, and Perlman as being opposed to any restrictions on immigration (Cong. Rec., April 5, 1924, 5666). Representative Blanton, complaining of the difficulty of getting restrictionist legislation through Congress, noted, “When at least 65 per cent of the sentiment of this House, in my judgment, is in favor of the exclusion of all foreigners for five years, why do we not put that into law? Has Brother Sabath such a tremendous influence over us that he holds us down on this proposition?” (Cong. Rec., April 5, 1924, 5685). Representative Sabath responded, “There may be something to that.” In addition, the following comments of Representative Leavitt clearly indicate the salience of Jewish congressmen to their opponents during the debate:
The instinct for national and race preservation is not one to be condemned, as has been intimated here. No one should be better able to understand the desire of Americans to keep America American than the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Sabath], who is leading the attack on this measure, or the gentlemen from New York, Mr. Dickstein, Mr. Jacobstein, Mr. Celler, and Mr. Perlman. They are of the one great historic people who have maintained the identity of their race throughout the centuries because they believe sincerely that they are a chosen people, with certain ideals to maintain, and knowing that the loss of racial identity means a change of ideals. That fact should make it easy for them and the majority of the most active opponents of this measure in the spoken debate to recognize and sympathize with our viewpoint, which is not so extreme as that of their own race, but only demands that the admixture of other peoples shall be only of such kind and proportions and in such quantities as will not alter racial characteristics more rapidly than there can be assimilation as to ideas of government as well as of blood. (Cong. Rec., April 12, 1924, 6265–6266)
p. 274: Jewish involvement in opposing restrictions during this period was motivated partly by attempts to establish precedents in which the quota system was bypassed and partly by attempts to increase immigration of Jews from Eastern Europe. The Citizen’s Committee on Displaced Persons, which advocated legislation to admit 400,000 refugees as nonquota immigrants over a period of four years, maintained a staff of 65 people and was funded mainly by the AJCommittee and other Jewish contributors (see Cong. Rec., Oct. 15, 1949, 14647–14654; Neuringer 1971, 393).
pp. 274–275: The Senate subcommittee “regarded the movement of Jews and other refugees from eastern Europe after 1945 as falling outside the scope of the main problem and implied that this exodus was a planned migration organized by Jewish agencies in the United States and in Europe” (Senate Rep. No. 950 , 15–16).
p. 275: Jewish representatives led the assault on the bill (Divine 1957, 127), Repre-sentative Emanuel Celler calling it “worse than no bill at all. All it does is exclude . . . Jews” (in Neuringer 1971, 298; see also Divine 1957, 127). In reluctantly signing the bill, President Truman noted that the 1945 cutoff date “discriminates in callous fashion against displaced persons of the Jewish faith” (Interpreter Releases 25 [July 21, 1948], 252–254). In contrast, Senator Chapman Revercomb stated that “there is no distinction, certainly no discrimination, intended between any persons because of their religion or their race, but there are differences drawn among those persons who are in fact displaced persons and have been in camp longest and have a preference” (Cong. Rec., May 26, 1948, 6793).
p. 275: After the 1948 elections resulted in a Democratic Congress and a sympathetic President Truman, Representative Celler introduced a bill without the 1945 cutoff date, but, after passing the House, the bill failed in the Senate because of the opposition of Senator Pat McCarran. McCarran noted that the Citizens Committee had spent over $800,000 lobbying for the bill, with the result that “there has been disseminated over the length and breadth of this nation a campaign of misrepresentation and falsehood which has misled many public-spirited and well-meaning citizens and organizations” (Cong. Rec., April 26, 1949, 5042–5043). After defeat, the Citizens Committee increased expenditures to over $1,000,000 and succeeded in passing a bill, introduced by Representative Celler, with a 1949 cutoff date that did not discriminate against Jews but largely excluded ethnic Germans who had been expelled from Eastern Europe. In an odd twist in the debate, restrictionists now accused the anti-restrictionists of ethnic bias (e.g., Senator Eastland, Cong. Rec., April 5, 1950, 2737; Senator McCarran, Cong. Rec., April 5, 1950, 4743).
p. 276: Herbert Lehman, a senator from New York and the most prominent senatorial opponent of immigration restriction during the 1950s (Neuringer 1971, 351), argued during the debates over the McCarran-Walter bill that immigrants from Jamaica of African descent should be included in the quota for England and stated that the bill would cause resentment among Asians (Neuringer 1971, 346, 356). Representatives Celler and Javits, the leaders of the anti-restrictionists in the House, made similar arguments (Cong. Rec., April 23, 1952, 4306, 4219).
p. 276: Reflecting a concern for maintaining the ethnic status quo as well as the salience of Jewish issues during the period, the report of the subcommittee considering the McCarran immigration law noted that “the population of the United States has increased three-fold since 1877, while the Jewish population has increased twenty-one fold during the same period” (Senate Rep. No. 1515 , 2–4).
p. 277: Reaffirming the logic of the 1920s restrictionists, the subcommittee report emphasized that a purpose of the 1924 law was “the restriction of immigration from southern and eastern Europe in order to preserve a predominance of persons of northwestern European origin in the composition of our total population” but noted that this purpose did not imply “any theory of Nordic supremacy” (Senate Rep. No. 1515 , 442, 445–446).
p. 277: As in 1924, theories of Nordic supremacy were rejected, but unlike 1924 there was no mention of the legitimate ethnic self-interest of the Northwestern European peoples, presumably a result of the effectiveness of the Boasian onslaught on this idea.
Without giving credence to any theory of Nordic superiority, the subcommittee believes that the adoption of the national origins formula was a rational and logical method of numerically restricting immigration in such a manner as to best preserve the sociological and cultural balance in the population of the United States. There is no doubt that it favored the peoples of the countries of northern and western Europe over those of southern and eastern Europe, but the subcommittee holds that the peoples who had made the greatest contribution to the development of this country were fully justified in determining that the country was no longer a field for further colonization and, henceforth, further immigration would not only be restricted but directed to admit immigrants considered to be more readily assimilable because of the similarity of their cultural background to those of the principal components of our population. (Sen. Rep. No. 1515, 81st Cong., 2nd Sess. 1950, 455)
pp. 277–278: It is important to note that Jewish spokespersons differed from other liberal groups in their motives for opposing restrictions on immigration during this period. In the following I emphasize the congressional testimony of Judge Simon H. Rifkind, who represented a very broad range of Jewish agencies in the hearings on the McCarran-Walter bill in 1951.21
1. Immigration should come from all racial-ethnic groups:
We conceive of Americanism as the spirit behind the welcome that America has traditionally extended to people of different races, all religions, all nationalities. Americanism is a tolerant way of life that was devised by men who differed from one another vastly in religion, race background, education, and lineage, and who agreed to forget all these things and ask of a new neighbor not where he comes from but only what he can do and what is his spirit toward his fellow men. (p. 566)
2. The total number of immigrants should be maximized within very broad economic and political constraints: “The regulation [of immigration] is the regulation of an asset, not of a liability” (p. 567). Rifkind emphasized several times that unused quotas had the effect of restricting total numbers of immi-grants, and he viewed this very negatively (e.g., p. 569).
3. Immigrants should not be viewed as economic assets and imported only to serve the present needs of the United States:
Looking at [selective immigration] from the point of view of the United States, never from the point of view of the immigrant, I say that we should, to some extent, allow for our temporary needs, but not to make our immigration problem an employment instrumentality. I do not think that we are buying economic commodities when we allow immigrants to come in. We are admitting human beings who will found families and raise children, whose children may reach the heights—at least so we hope and pray. For a small segment of the immigrant stream I think we are entitled to say, if we happen to be short of a particular talent, “Let us go out and look for them,” if necessary, but let us not make that the all-pervading thought. (p. 570)
p. 279: In Congress, Representative John Rankin, a notorious anti-Semite, without making explicit reference to Jews, stated:
They whine about discrimination. Do you know who is being discriminated against? The white Christian people of America, the ones who created this nation. . . . I am talking about the white Christian people of the North as well as the South. . . .
Communism is racial. A racial minority seized control in Russia and in all her satel-lite countries, such as Poland, Czechoslovakia, and many other countries I could name.
They have been run out of practically every country in Europe in the years gone by, and if they keep stirring race trouble in this country and trying to force their commu-nistic program on the Christian people of America, there is no telling what will happen to them here. (Cong. Rec., April 23, 1952, 4320)
p. 281: For example, both the AJCommittee and the CPUSA condemned the McCarran-Walter act while, on the other hand, the AJCommittee had a major role in influencing the recommendations of President Truman’s Commission on Immigration and Naturalization (PCIN) for relaxing the security provisions of the McCarran-Walter Act, and these recommendations were warmly greeted by the CPUSA at a time when a prime goal of the security provisions was to exclude communists (Bennett 1963, 166). (Judge Julius Rifkind’s remarks at the Joint Hearings on the McCarran-Walter Act [see p. 278 above] also condemned the security provisions of the bill.) Jews were disproportionately represented on the PCIN as well as in the organizations viewed by Congress as communist front organizations involved in immigration issues. The chairman of the PCIN was Philip B. Perlman and the staff of the commission contained a high percentage of Jews, headed by Harry N. Rosenfield (Executive Director) and Elliot Shirk (Assistant to the Executive Director), and its report was wholeheartedly endorsed by the AJCongress (see Congress Weekly, Jan. 12, 1952, 3). The proceedings were printed as the report Whom We Shall Welcome with the cooperation of Representative Emanuel Celler.
p. 281: In Congress, Senator McCarran accused the PCIN of containing communist sympathizers, and the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) released a report stating that “some two dozen Communists and many times that number with records of repeated affiliation with known Communist enterprises testified before the Commission or submitted statements for inclusion in the record of the hearings. . . . Nowhere in either the record of the hearings or in the report is there a single reference to the true background of these persons” (House Rep. No. 1182, 85th Cong., 1st Session, 47).
p. 281: The AJCommittee was also heavily involved in the deliberations of the PCIN, including providing testimony and distributing data and other material to individuals and organizations testifying before the PCIN (Cohen 1972, 371). All its recommendations were incorporated into the final report (Cohen 1972, 371), including a deemphasis on economic skills as criteria for immigration, scrapping the national origins legislation, and opening immigration to all the peoples of the world on a “first come, first served basis,” the only exception being that the report recommended a lower total number of immigrants than recommended by the AJCommittee and other Jewish groups.
p. 281: Indeed, the Commission (PCIN 1953, 106) pointedly noted that the 1924 legislation had succeeded in maintaining the racial status quo, and that the main barrier to changing the racial status quo was not the national origins system, because there were already high levels of nonquota immigrants and because the countries of Northern and Western Europe did not fill their quotas. Rather, the report noted that the main barrier to changing the racial status quo was the total number of immigrants. The Commission thus viewed changing the racial status quo of the United States as a desirable goal, and to that end made a major point of the desirability of increasing the total number of immigrants (PCIN 1953, 42).
p. 283: The salience of Jewish involvement in immigration during this period is also apparent in several other incidents. In 1950 the representative of the AJCongress testified that the retention of the national origins system in any form would be “a political and moral catastrophe” (“Revision of Immigration Laws” Joint Hearings, 1950, 336–337).
p. 284: Representative Emanuel Celler replied that Walter “should not have over-emphasized as he did the people of one particular faith who are opposing the bill” (p. 2285). Representative Walter agreed with Celler’s comments, noting that “there are other very fine Jewish groups who endorse the bill.” Nevertheless, the principle Jewish organizations, including the AJCongress, the AJCommittee, the ADL, the National Council of Jewish Women, and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, did indeed oppose the bill (Cong. Rec., April 23, 1952, 4247), and when Judge Simon Rifkind testified against the bill in the joint hearings, he emphasized that he represented a very wide range of Jewish groups, “the entire body of religious opinion and lay opinion within the Jewish group, religiously speaking, from the extreme right and extreme left” (p. 563).
p. 284: Rifkind represented a long list of national and local Jewish groups, including in addition to the above, the Synagogue Council of America, the Jewish Labor Committee, the Jewish War Veterans of the United States, and 27 local Jewish councils throughout the United States. Moreover, the fight against the bill was led by Jewish members of Congress, including especially Celler, Javits, and Lehman, all of whom, as indicated above, were prominent members of the ADL.
p. 284: The perception that Jewish concerns were an important feature of the opposition to the McCarran-Walter Act can also be seen in the following exchange between Representative Celler and Representative Walter. Celler noted, “The national origin theory upon which our immigration law is based . . . [mocks] our protestations based on a question of equality of opportunity for all peoples, regardless of race, color, or creed.” Representative Walter replied, “a great menace to America lies in the fact that so many professionals, including professional Jews, are shedding crocodile tears for no reason whatsoever” (Cong. Rec., Jan. 13, 1953, 372).
p. 289: During the House debates on immigration surrounding the McCarran-Walter Act, Representative Walter (Cong. Rec., March 13, 1952, 2284) noted the special focus that Jewish organizations had on family reunion rather than on special skills. Responding to Representative Javits who had complained that under the bill 50 percent of the quota for blacks from the British West Indies colonies would be reserved for people with special skills, Walter noted, “I would like to call the gentleman’s attention to the fact that this is the principle of using 50 percent of the quota for people needed in the United States. But, if that entire 50 percent is not used in that category, then the unused numbers go down to the next category which replies to the objections that these Jewish organizations make much of, that families are being separated.”
p. 290: Senator Jacob Javits played a prominent role in the Senate hearings on the 1965 bill, and Emanuel Celler, who fought for unrestricted immigration for over 40 years in the House of Representatives, introduced similar legislation in that body.
p. 291: It is also interesting that the main victory of the restrictionists in 1965 was that Western Hemisphere nations were included in the new quota system, thus ending the possibility of unrestricted immigration from those regions. In speeches before the Senate, Senator Javits (Cong. Rec., 111, 1965, 24469) bitterly opposed this extension of the quota system, arguing that placing any limits on immigration of all of the people of the Western Hemisphere would have severely negative effects on U.S. foreign policy. In a highly revealing discussion of the bill before the Senate, Senator Sam Ervin (Cong. Rec., 89th Cong., 1st Sess., 1965, 24446–51) noted that “those who disagree with me express no shock that Britain, in the future, can send us 10,000 fewer immigrants than she has sent on an annual average in the past. They are only shocked that British Guyana cannot send us every single citizen of that country who wishes to come.” Clearly the forces of liberal immigration really wanted unlimited immigration into the United States.
p. 292: Even in 1952 Senator McCarran was aware of the stakes at risk in immigra-tion policy. In a statement reminiscent of that of Representative William N. Vaile during the debates of the 1920s quoted above, McCarran stated,
I believe that this nation is the last hope of Western civilization and if this oasis of the world shall be overrun, perverted, contaminated or destroyed, then the last flickering light of humanity will be extinguished. I take no issue with those who would praise the contributions which have been made to our society by people of many races, of varied creeds and colors. America is indeed a joining together of many streams which go to form a mighty river which we call the American way. However, we have in the United States today hard-core, indigestible blocs which have not become integrated into the American way of life, but which, on the contrary are its deadly enemies. Today, as never before, untold millions are storming our gates for admission and those gates are cracking under the strain. The solution of the problems of Europe and Asia will not come through a transplanting of those problems en masse to the United States. . . . I do not intend to become prophetic, but if the enemies of this legislation succeed in riddling it to pieces, or in amending it beyond recognition, they will have contributed more to promote this nation’s downfall than any other group since we achieved our independence as a nation. (Senator Pat McCarran, Cong. Rec., March 2, 1953, 1518)