May 26, 2010

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(Sen. Leverett Saltonstall - big believer in immigration - and a Republican, no less)

In 1953 the big question was to allow 240,000 immigrants, many of whom were from Iron Curtain countries, passage to the U.S. The McCarran Walter Act was already the established law that allowed over 100,000 immigrants to settle in the U.S. The new bill would increase that amount to over 340,000 and the resistance came, from all people Rep. Francis E. Walter, who co-authored the original bill. Walter felt it would open the floodgates for "undesirables and communists" and put a burden on an already overflowing work force.

The American Forum program of July 12, 1953 staged a debate between Rep. Walter and Sen. Leverett Saltonstall.

Sen. Leverett Saltonstall: “If we here in the United States haven’t put into our people who have come over from other countries either in the first generation or the second generation the feeling that we’ve got something here for them in the cause of freedom and in cause of advancement for themselves, then we’ve failed in our effort if we let these people who come in convince them that everything in this country is wrong. If that’s so they wouldn’t want to come in anyway it seems to me.”

Certainly a far cry from the current debate on Immigration, at least there's no Red Scare. But it's interesting to note that the argument over immigration is an old one and will probably continue for generations.

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