November 22, 2009


("Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your . . . .never mind")

Since debate on the issue of our current Immigration laws should be heating up soon, this may be jumping the gun. But it's never too early to start getting some historic perspective on issues. So this post is about the debate over the McCarran/Walter Immigration Bill of 1952.

The program, American Forum Of The Air, hosted a debate on the bill with Senator Herbert Lehman (D-New York) and Congressman J. Frank Wilson (D-Texas)on May 17, 1953.

Sen. Herbert Lehman: “Aliens already in this country can be apprehended and placed in custody. In some cases they can be deported without even the benefit of a hearing. Mister Blair, the McCarran -Walter Act took over all the worst features of all the immigration laws which have been enacted over the last thirty or forty years. But it added many new provisions that were equally bad and combined the whole structure into a legal code which is anti-humanitarian, anti-foreign and, in the profoundest meaning of the word Un-American. It is a complex law and very difficult to summarize in all of its details. But if we are to keep faith with our American traditions, this law, in my opinion must be completely revised and rewritten.”

Then, as now the subject of our Immigration Laws was the object of much heated debate. In the 1950s, with the Red Scare in full bloom, the fear was mass migration of Communist subversives and assassins - however, then as now there was the racial/ethnic overtone which seems to be really what the debate is always about.

Some of it isn't so subtle.

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