Jewish anti-restrictionist political activity
a. Jewish Anti- Restrictionist Activity up to 1924.
While Jewish involvement in altering the intellectual discussion of race and ethnicity appears to have had long term repercussions on United States immigration policy, Jewish political involvement was ultimately of much greater significance. Jewish opinion is not monolithic. Nevertheless, although there have been dissenters, Jews have been “the single most persistent pressure group favoring a liberal immigration policy” in the United States in the entire immigration debate beginning in 1881 (Neuringer 1971, p. ii):
In undertaking to sway immigration policy in a liberal direction, Jewish spokesmen and organizations demonstrated a degree of energy unsurpassed by any other interested pressure group. Immigration had constituted a prime object of concern for practically every major Jewish defense and community relations organization. Over the years, their spokesmen had assiduously attended congressional hearings, and the Jewish effort was of the utmost importance in establishing and financing such non- sectarian groups as the National Liberal Immigration League and the Citizens Committee for Displaced Persons.
As recounted by Nathan C. Belth (1979, p. 173) in his history of the Anti- Defamation League of B’nai B’rith (ADL), “In Congress, through all the years when the immigration battles were being fought, the names of Jewish legislators were in the forefront of the liberal forces: from Adolph Sabath to Samuel Dickstein and Emanuel Celler in the House and from Herbert H. Lehman to Jacob Javits in the Senate. Each in his time was a leader of the Anti- Defamation League and of major organizations concerned with democratic development.” The Jewish congressmen who are most closely identified with anti- restrictionist efforts in Congress have therefore also been leaders of the group most closely identified with Jewish ethnic political activism and self- defense.
Throughout the entire period of almost 100 years prior to achieving success with the immigration law of 1965, Jewish groups opportunistically made alliances with other groups whose interests temporarily converged with Jewish interests (e. g., a constantly changing set of ethnic groups, religious groups, pro- Communists, anti- Communists, the foreign policy interests of various presidents, the political need for president’s to curry favor with groups influential in populous states in order to win national elections, etc.). Particularly noteworthy was the support of a liberal immigration policy from industrial interests wanting cheap labor, at least in the period prior to the 1924 temporary triumph of restrictionism. Within this constantly shifting set of alliances, Jewish organizations persistently pursued their goals of maximizing the number of Jewish immigrants and opening up the United States to immigration from all of the peoples of the world. As indicated in the following, the historical record supports the proposition that making the United States into a multicultural society has been a major goal of organized Jewry beginning in the nineteenth century.
The ultimate Jewish victory on immigration is remarkable because it was waged in different arenas against a potentially very powerful set of opponents. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, leadership of the restrictionists was provided by Eastern patricians such as Senator Henry Cabot Lodge. However, the main political basis of restrictionism from 1910 to 1952 (in addition to the relatively ineffectual labor union interests) derived from “the common people of the South and West” (Higham 1984, p. 49) and their representatives in Congress. Fundamentally, the clashes between Jews and gentiles in the period between 1900 and 1965 were a conflict between Jews and this geographically centered group. “Jews, as a result of their intellectual energy and economic resources, constituted an advance guard of the new peoples who had no feeling for the traditions of rural America” (Higham 1984, pp. 168- 169).
Although often concerned that Jewish immigration would fan the flames of anti- Semitism in America, Jewish leaders fought a long and largely successful delaying action against restrictions on immigration during the period from 1891- 1924, particularly as they affected the ability of Jews to immigrate. These efforts continued despite the fact that by 1905, there was “a polarity between Jewish and general American opinion on immigration” (Neuringer 1971, p. 83). In particular, while other religious groups such as Catholics and ethnic groups such as the Irish remained divided and ambivalent on their attitudes toward immigration and were poorly organized and ineffective in influencing immigration policy, and while labor unions opposed immigration in their attempt to diminish the supply of cheap labor, Jewish groups engaged in an intensive and sustained effort against attempts to restrict immigration.
As recounted by Cohen (1972, p. 40ff), the AJCommittee’s efforts in opposition to immigration restriction in the early twentieth century constitute a remarkable example of the ability of Jewish organizations to influence public policy. Of all the groups affected by the immigration legislation of 1907, Jews had the least to gain in terms of numbers of possible immigrants, but they played by far the largest role in shaping the legislation (Cohen 1972, p. 41). In the subsequent period leading up to the relatively ineffective restrictionist legislation of 1917, when restrictionists again mounted an effort in Congress, “only the Jewish segment was aroused” (Cohen 1972, p. 49).
Nevertheless, because of the fear of anti- Semitism, efforts were made to prevent the perception of Jewish involvement in anti- restrictionist campaigns. In 1906, Jewish anti- restrictionist political operatives were instructed to lobby Congress without mentioning their affiliation with the AJCommittee because of “the danger that the Jews may be accused of being organized for a political purpose” (comments of Herbert Friedenwald, AJCommittee secretary; in Goldstein 1990, p. 125). Beginning in the late nineteenth century, anti- restrictionist arguments developed by Jews were typically couched in terms of universalist humanitarian ideals, and as part of this universalizing effort, gentiles from old line Protestant families were recruited to act as window dressing for their efforts and Jewish groups such as the AJCommittee funded pro- immigration groups composed of non- Jews (Neuringer 1971, p. 92).
As was the case in later pro- immigration efforts, much of the activity was behind- the- scenes personal interventions with politicians in order to minimize public perception of the Jewish role and provoke activities of the opposition. Opposing politicians, such as Henry Cabot Lodge, and organizations like the Immigration Restriction League were kept under close scrutiny and pressured by lobbyists. Lobbyists in Washington also kept a daily scorecard of voting tendencies as immigration bills wended their way through Congress and engaged in intense and successful efforts to convince Presidents Taft and Wilson to veto restrictive immigration legislation. Catholic prelates were recruited to protest the effects of restrictionist legislation on immigration from Italy and Hungary. When restrictionist arguments appeared in the media, the AJCommittee made sophisticated replies, based on scholarly data and typically couched in universalist terms as benefiting the whole society (e. g., Neuringer 1971, p. 44). Articles favorable to immigration were published in national magazines and letters to the editor were published in newspapers. And efforts were made to minimize the negative perceptions of immigration by attempting to distribute Jewish immigrants around the country and by getting Jewish aliens off public support. Legal proceedings were filed to prevent the deportation of Jewish aliens. And eventually the Committee organized mass protest meetings.
Indeed, writing in 1914, the sociologist Edward A. Ross had a clear sense that liberal immigration policy was exclusively a Jewish issue. Ross provides the following quote from prominent author and Zionist pioneer Israel Zangwill as clearly articulating the idea that America is an ideal place to achieve Jewish interests.
America has ample room for all the six millions of the Pale [i. e., the Pale of Settlement, home to most of Russia’s Jews]; any one of her fifty states could absorb them. And next to being in a country of their own, there could be no better fate for them than to be together in a land of civil and religious liberty, of whose Constitution Christianity forms no part and where their collective votes would practically guarantee them against future persecution (Israel Zangwill, in Ross 1914, p. 144).
Jews therefore have a powerful interest in immigration policy: Hence the endeavor of the Jews to control the immigration policy of the United States. Although theirs is but a seventh of our net immigration, they led the fight on the Immigration Commission’s bill. The power of the million Jews in the Metropolis lined up the Congressional delegation from New York in solid opposition to the literacy test. The systematic campaign in newspapers and magazines to break down all arguments for restriction and to calm nativist fears is waged by and for one race. Hebrew money is behind the National Liberal Immigration League and its numerous publications. From the paper before the commercial body or the scientific association to the heavy treatise produced with the aid of the Baron de Hirsch Fund, the literature that proves the blessings of immigration to all classes in America emanates from subtle Hebrew brains (Ross 1914, pp. 144- 145).
Ross (1914, p. 150) also reported that immigration officials had “become very sore over the incessant fire of false accusations to which they are subjected by the Jewish press and societies. United States senators complain that during the close of the struggle over the immigration bill they were overwhelmed with a torrent of crooked statistics and misrepresentations of Hebrews fighting the literacy test.” It is also noteworthy that Zangwill’s views on immigration were highly salient to restrictionists in the debates over the 1924 immigration law (see below). In an address reprinted in The American Hebrew (Oct. 19, 1923, p. 582), Zangwill noted that “There is only one way to World Peace, and that is the absolute abolition of passports, visas, frontiers, custom houses, and all other devices that make of the population of our planet not a co- operating civilization but a mutual irritation society.”
It is noteworthy that, despite elaborate and deceptive attempts to present the pro- immigration movement as broad- based, Jewish activists were well aware of the lack of enthusiasm of other groups. During the fight over restrictionist legislation at the end of the Taft administration, Herbert Friedenwald, AJCommittee secretary, wrote that it was “very difficult to get any people except the Jews stirred up in this fight” (in Goldstein 1990, p. 203). The AJCommittee also contributed heavily to staging anti- restrictionist rallies in major American cities, but allowed other ethnic groups to take credit for the events, and it organized groups of non- Jews from the West to influence President Taft to veto restrictionist legislation (Goldstein 1990, pp. 216, 227). Later, during the Wilson Administration, Louis Marshall stated that “We are practically the only ones who are fighting [the literacy test] while a “great proportion” [of the people] is “indifferent to what is done” (in Goldstein 1990, p. 249).
The forces of immigration restriction were temporarily successful with the immigration laws of 1921 and 1924 which passed despite the intense opposition of Jewish groups. Divine (1957, p. 8) notes that “Arrayed against [the restrictionist forces] in 1921 were only the spokesmen for the southeastern European immigrants, mainly Jewish leaders, whose protests were drowned out by the general cry for restriction.” Similarly during the 1924 congressional hearings on immigration, “the most prominent group of witnesses against the bill were representatives of southeastern European immigrants, particularly Jewish leaders” (Divine 1957, 16).
Neuringer (1971, p. 164) notes that Jewish opposition to the 1921 and 1924 legislation was motivated less by a desire for higher levels of Jewish immigration than by opposition to the implicit theory that America should be dominated by individuals with northern and western European ancestry. The Jewish interest was thus to oppose the ethnic interests of the peoples of northwestern Europe in maintaining an ethnic status quo or increasing their percentage of the population. However, even prior to this period Jewish organizations were adamantly opposed to any restrictions on immigration based on race or ethnicity, indicating that they had a very different view of the ideal racial/ ethnic composition of the United States than did the non- Jewish European- derived peoples.
Thus in 1882 the Jewish press was unanimous in its condemnation of the Chinese Exclusion Act (Neuringer 1971, p. 23) even though this act had no direct bearing on Jewish immigration. In the early twentieth century the AJCommittee at times actively fought against any bill that restricted immigration to white persons or non- Asians, and only refrained from active opposition if it judged that AJCommittee support would threaten the immigration of Jews (Cohen 1972, p. 47; Goldstein 1990, p. 250). In 1920 the Central Conference of American Rabbis passed a resolution urging that “the Nation . . . keep the gates of our beloved Republic open . . . to the oppressed and distressed of all mankind in conformity with its historic role as a haven of refuge for all men and women who pledge allegiance to its laws” (in
The American Hebrew, Oct. 1, 1920, p. 594). The American Hebrew (Feb. 17, 1922; p. 373), a publication founded in 1867, that represented the German- Jewish establishment of the period, reiterated its long- standing policy that it “has always stood for the admission of worthy immigrants of all classes, irrespective of nationality.” And in his testimony in the 1924 hearings before the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, the AJCommittee’s Louis Marshall stated that the bill echoed the sentiments of the Ku Klux Klan and characterized it as being inspired by the racialist theories of Houston Stewart Chamberlain. At a time when the population of the United States was over 100,000,000, Marshall stated that “we have room in this country for ten times the population we have” (p. 309), and advocated admission of all of the peoples of the world without quota limit, excluding only those who “were mentally, morally and physically unfit, who are enemies of organized government, and who are apt to become public charges;” 8 similarly Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, representing the AJCongress and a variety of other Jewish organizations, asserted “the right of every man outside of America to be considered fairly and equitably and without discrimination.” 9
By prescribing that immigration be restricted to 3% of the foreign born as of the 1890 census, the 1924 law prescribed an ethnic status quo approximating the 1920 census. The House Majority Report emphasized the idea that prior to the legislation, immigration was highly biased in favor of Eastern and Southern Europeans and that this imbalance had been continued by the 1921 legislation in which quotas were based on the numbers of foreign born as of the 1910 census. The expressed intention was that the interests of other groups to pursue their ethnic interests by expanding their percentage of the population should be balanced against the ethnic interests of the majority in retaining their ethnic representation in the population.
The 1921 law gave 46% of quota immigration to Southern and Eastern Europe even though these areas constituted only 11.7% of the United States population as of the 1920 census. The 1924 law prescribed that these areas would get 15.3% of the quota slots— a figure that was actually higher than their present representation in the population. “The use of the 1890 census is not discriminatory. It is used in an effort to preserve as nearly as possible, the racial status quo of the United States. It is hoped to guarantee as best we can at this late date, racial homogeneity in the United States The use of a later census would discriminate against those who founded the Nation and perpetuated its institutions.” (House Rep. 350, 1924, p. 16). After 3 years, quotas were derived from a national origins formula based on 1920 census data for the entire population, not only the foreign born. While there is no doubt that this legislation represented a victory for the northwestern European peoples of the United States, there was no attempt to reverse the trends in the ethnic composition of the country but rather to preserve the ethnic status quo.
While motivated by a desire to preserve an ethnic status quo, these laws may also have been motivated partly by anti- Semitism, since during this period opposition to immigration was perceived as mainly a Jewish issue (see above). This certainly appears to have been the perception of Jewish observers: for example, prominent Jewish writer Maurice Samuel (1924), writing in the immediate aftermath of the 1924 legislation, wrote that “it is chiefly against the Jew that anti- immigration laws are passed here in America as in England and Germany (p. 217),” and such perceptions continue among historians of the period (e. g., Hertzberg 1989, 239). This perception was not restricted to Jews. In remarks before the Senate, the anti- restrictionist Senator Reed of Missouri noted that “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; p. 3463), and during World War II Secretary of War Robert Stimson stated that it was opposition to unrestricted immigration of Jews that resulted in the restrictive legislation of 1924 (Breitman & Kraut, 1987, p. 87). Moreover, the House Immigration Committee Majority Report (House Report #109, Dec. 6, 1920) stated that “by far the largest percentage of immigrants (are) peoples of Jewish extraction,” (p. 4), and it implied that the majority of the expected new immigrants would be Polish Jews. The report “confirmed the published statement of a commissioner of the Hebrew Sheltering and Aid Society of America made after his personal investigation in Poland, to the effect that ‘If there were in existence a ship that could hold 3,000,000 human beings, the 3,000,000 Jews of Poland would board it to escape to America’” (p. 6).
The Majority Report also included a report by Wilbur S. Carr, head of the United States Consular Service, that stated that the Polish Jews were “abnormally twisted because of (a) reaction from war strain; (b) the shock of revolutionary disorders; (c) the dullness and stultification resulting from past years of oppression and abuse. . . ; Eighty- five to ninety percent lack any conception of patriotic or national spirit. And the majority of this percentage are unable to acquire it” (p. 9; see also Breitman and Kraut [1987, 12] for a discussion of Carr’s anti- Semitism). Consular reports warned that “many Bolshevik sympathizers are in Poland” (p. 11). Similarly in the Senate, Senator McKellar cited the report that if there were a ship large enough, 3,000,000 Poles would immigrate. 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, p. 3456).
As a further indication of the salience of Polish- Jewish immigration issues, the letter on alien visas submitted by the State Department in 1921 to Albert Johnson, Chairman of the Committee on Migration and Naturalization, devoted over four times as much space to the situation in Poland as it did to any other country. The report emphasized the activities of the Polish- Jewish newspaper Der Emigrant in promoting emigration to the United States of Polish Jews, the activities of the Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Society and wealthy private citizens from the United States in facilitating immigration by providing money and performing the paperwork. (There was indeed a large network of agents in Eastern Europe who, in violation of United States law, “did their best to drum up business by enticing as many emigrants as possible” [Nadell 1984, 56].) The report also noted the poor condition of the prospective immigrants: “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. 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, p. 498).
The report also stated that articles in the Warsaw press had reported that “propaganda favoring unrestricted immigration” is being planned, including celebrations in New York aimed at showing the contributions of immigrants to the development of the United States. The reports for Belgium (whose emigrants originated in Poland and Czechoslovakia) and Romania also highlighted the importance of Jews as prospective immigrants. In response, Representative Isaac Siegel stated that the report was “edited and doctored by certain officials” and commented that the report did not mention countries with larger numbers of immigrants than Poland. (For example, there was no mention of Italy in the report.) 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, p. 504), the implication was that the focus on Poland was prompted by anti- Semitism.
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. Members 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. 350, 1924, p. 16).
Indeed, one is struck in reading the 1924 Congressional debate by the rarity with which the issue of Nordic racial superiority is raised by those in favor of the legislation, while virtually all of the anti- restrictionists raised this issue. 10 After a particularly colorful comment in opposition to the theory of Nordic racial superiority, restrictionist leader Albert Johnson remarked that “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; p. 5911). Earlier, during the hearings on the bill, Johnson remarked in response to the comments of Rabbi Stephen S. Wise representing the AJCongress that “I dislike to be placed continually 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.” 11 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 (p. 5675- 6), 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).
Indeed, it is noteworthy that there are indications in the Congressional debate that representatives from the far West were concerned about the competence and competitive threat presented by Japanese immigrants, and their rhetoric suggested they viewed the Japanese as racially equal or superior, not inferior. For example, Senator Jones stated that “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, p. 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, p. 5697). Representative Miller described the Japanese as “a relentless and unconquerable competitor of our people wherever he places himself” (Cong. Rec.
April 8, 1924, p. 5884); See also comments of Representatives Gilbert (Cong. Rec. April 12, 1924, p. 6261) Raker (Cong. Rec. April 8, 1924, p. 5892} and Free (Cong. Rec. April 8, 1924, p. 5924ff).
Moreover, while the issue of Jewish/ gentile resource competition was not raised during the Congressional debates, quotas on Jewish admissions to Ivy League universities were a highly salient issue among Jews during this period. The quota issue was highly publicized in the Jewish media and the focus of activities of Jewish self- defense organizations such as the ADL (see, e. g., the ADL statement published in The American Hebrew, Sept. 29, 1922, p. 536). Jewish/ gentile resource competition may therefore have been on the minds of some legislators. Indeed, President A. Lawrence Lowell of Harvard was the national vice- president of the Immigration Restriction League as well as a proponent of quotas on Jewish admission to Harvard (Symott 1986, 238), suggesting that resource competition with an intellectually superior Jewish group was an issue for at least some prominent restrictionists.
It is probable that anti- Jewish animosity related to resource competition issues were widespread. Higham (1984, 141) writes of “the urgent pressure which the Jews, as an exceptionally ambitious immigrant people, put upon some of the more crowded rungs of the social ladder” (Higham 1984, 141). Beginning in the nineteenth century there were fairly high levels of covert and overt anti- Semitism in patrician circles resulting from the very rapid upward mobility of Jews and their competitive drive. In the period prior to World War I, the reaction of the gentile power structure was to construct social registers and emphasize genealogy as mechanisms of exclusion—“ criteria that could not be met my money alone” (Higham 1984, 104ff, 127). During this period Edward A. Ross (1914, 164) described gentile resentment for “being obliged to engage in a humiliating and undignified scramble in order to keep his trade or his clients against the Jewish invader”— suggesting a rather broad- based concern with Jewish economic competition. Attempts at exclusion in a wide range of areas were increased in the 1920s and reached their peak during the difficult economic situation of the Great Depression (Higham 1984, 131ff).
However, in the 1924 debates the only Congressional comments suggesting a concern with Jewish/ gentile resource competition (as well as a concern that the interests of Jewish intellectuals are not the same as their gentile counterparts) 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 weaknesses 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, p. 6272).
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.” The editorial also noted that Jews were overrepresented among scholarship winners in competitions sponsored by the state of New York. The editorial pointedly noted that “perhaps the Nordics are too proud to try for these honors. In any event the list of names just announced by the State Department of Education at Albany as winners of these coveted scholarships is not in the least Nordic; it reads like a confirmation roster at a Temple.” There is indeed evidence that Jews, like East Asians, have higher IQ’s than Caucasians (Lynn, 1987; MacDonald, 1994; Rushton, 1995).
The most common argument made by those favoring the legislation, and the one reflected in the majority report, is the argument that in the interests of fairness to all ethnic groups, the quotas should reflect the relative ethnic composition of the entire country. 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 the law. Representative Rogers argued that “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; p. 5847). Senator Reed noted, “The purpose, I think, of most of us in changing the quota basis is to cease from discriminating 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; p. 6457) (i. e., because 46% of the quotas under the 1921 went to Eastern and Southern Europe when they constituted less than 12% of the population).
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, 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; p. 5922). 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, and, without mentioning any other opponent of restriction, he also focused on Reps. Jacobstein, Celler, and Perlman as being opposed to any restrictions on immigration (Cong. Rec.
April 5, 1924, p. 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, p. 5685). Representative Sabath responded that “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; pp. 6265- 6266)
The view that Jews had a strong tendency to oppose genetic assimilation with surrounding groups occurred among other observers as well and was a component of contemporary anti- Semitism (see Singerman 1986, pp. 110- 111). Jewish avoidance of exogamy certainly had a basis in reality (MacDonald 1994, Ch. 2- 4). Indeed, it is noteworthy that there was powerful opposition to intermarriage even among the more liberal segments of early twentieth- century American Judaism and certainly among the less liberal segments represented by the great majority of Orthodox immigrants from Eastern Europe who had come to constitute the great majority of American Jewry. For example, the prominent nineteenth- century Reform leader David Einhorn was a lifelong opponent of mixed marriages and refused to officiate at such ceremonies, even when pressed to do so (Meyer 1988, 247). Einhorn was also a staunch opponent of conversion of gentiles to Judaism because of the effects on the “racial purity” of Judaism (Levenson 1989, 331). Similarly, the influential Reform intellectual Kaufman Kohler was also an ardent opponent of mixed marriage. In a view that is highly compatible with Horace Kallen’s multi- culturalism, Kohler concluded that Israel must remain separate and avoid intermarriage until it leads mankind to an era of universal peace and brotherhood among the races (Kohler 1918, 445- 446). The negative attitude toward intermarriage was confirmed by survey results. A 1912 survey indicated that only seven of 100 Reform rabbis had officiated at a mixed marriage, and a 1909 resolution of the Central Council of American Rabbis declared that "mixed marriages are contrary to the tradition of the Jewish religion and should be discouraged by the American Rabbinate" (Meyer 1988, 290). Gentile perceptions of Jewish attitudes on intermarriage therefore had a strong basis in reality.
The Involvement of Jewish Immigrants in Radical Politics. The Congressional debates of 1924 reflected a highly charged context in which Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe were widely perceived to not only avoid intermarriage but also to retain a separatist culture and to be disproportionately involved in radical political movements. The perception of radicalism among Jewish immigrants was common in Jewish as well as gentile publications. The American Hebrew editorialized that “we must not forget the immigrants from Russia and Austria will be coming from countries infested with Bolshevism, and it will require more than a superficial effort to make good citizens out of them” (in Neuringer 1971, p. 165). The fact that Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe were viewed as “infected with Bolshevism . . . unpatriotic, alien, unassimilable” resulted in a wave of anti- Semitism in the 1920s and contributed to the restrictive immigration legislation of the period (Neuringer 1971, p. 165). In Sorin’s (1985, 46) study of immigrant Jewish radical activists, over half had been involved in radical politics in Europe before emigrating, and for those immigrating after 1900, the percentage rose to 69%. Jewish publications warned of the possibilities of anti- Semitism resulting from the leftism of Jewish immigrants, and the official Jewish community engaged in “a near- desperation . . . effort to portray the Jew as one hundred per cent American” by, e. g., organizing patriotic pageants on national holidays and by attempting to get the immigrants to learn English (Neuringer, 1971, p. 167).
Similarly, in England, the immigration of Eastern European Jews into England after 1880 had a transformative effect on the political attitudes of British Jewry in the direction of socialism, trade- unionism, and Zionism, often combined with religious orthodoxy and devotion to a highly separatist traditional lifestyle (Alderman, 1983; p. 47ff). The more established Jewish organizations fought hard to combat the well- founded image of Jewish immigrants as Zionist, religiously orthodox political radicals who refused to be conscripted into the armed forces during World War I in order to fight the enemies of the officially anti- Semitic Czarist government (Alderman, 1992, p. 237ff).
The Jewish Old Left, including the unions, the leftist press, and the leftist fraternal orders (which were often associated with a synagogue), was a part of the wider Jewish community, and Jewish members typically retained a strong Jewish ethnic identity (Howe 1976; Liebman 1979; Buhle 1980). This phenomenon occurred within the entire spectrum of leftist organizations, including organizations such as the Communist Party and the Socialist Party whose membership also included gentiles (Liebman, 1979, p. 267ff; Buhle 1980).
Werner Cohn (1958, p. 621) describes the general milieu of the immigrant Jewish community in the period from 1886- 1920 as “one big radical debating society”:
By 1886 the Jewish community in New York had become conspicuous for its support of the third- party (United Labor) candidacy of Henry George, the theoretician of the Single Tax. From then Jewish districts in New York and elsewhere were famous for their radical voting habits. The Lower East Side repeatedly picked as its congressman Meyer London, the only New York Socialist ever to be elected to Congress. And many Socialists went to the State Assembly in Albany from Jewish districts. In the 1917 mayoralty campaign in New York City, the Socialist and anti- war candidacy of Morris Hillquit was supported by the most authoritative voices of the Jewish Lower East Side: The United Hebrew Trades, the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, and most importantly, the very popular Yiddish Daily Forward. This was the period in which extreme radicals— like Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman— were giants in the Jewish community, and when almost all the Jewish giants— among them Abraham Cahan, Morris Hillquit, and the young Morris R. Cohen— were radicals. Even Samuel Gompers, when speaking before Jewish audiences, felt it necessary to use radical phrases.
In addition, The Freiheit, which was an unofficial organ of the Communist Party from the 1920s to the 1950s “stood at the center of Yiddish proletarian institutions and subculture . . . [which offered] identity, meaning, friendship, and understanding” (Liebman, 1979, pp. 349- 350). The newspaper lost considerable support in the Jewish community in 1929 when it took the Communist party position in opposition to Zionism, and by the 1950s it essentially had to choose between satisfying its Jewish soul or its status as a Communist organ. It chose the former, and by the late 1960s it was justifying not returning the Israeli occupied territories in opposition to the line of the American Communist Party.
The relationship of Jews and the American Communist Party (CPUSA) is particularly interesting because a concern with Communist subversion under the direction of the Soviet Union was a feature of the immigration debates of the 1920s and because a substantial proportion of the CPUSA were foreign born. 12 Beginning in the 1920s Jews whose backgrounds derived from Eastern Europe played a very prominent and disproportionate role in the CPUSA (Klehr, 1978, p. 37ff). Merely citing percentages of Jewish leaders probably does not adequately indicate the extent of Jewish influence in the CPUSA, since active efforts were made to recruit gentiles as a sort of “window dressing” to conceal the extent of Jewish influence in the movement (Klehr, 1978, p. 40; Rothman & Lichter, 1982, p. 99).
Klehr (1978, p. 40) estimates that from 1921 to 1961, Jews constituted 33.5% of the Central Committee members and the representation of Jews was often above 40% (Klehr, 1978, p. 46). In the 1920s a majority of the members of the Socialist Party were immigrants and that an “overwhelming” (Glazer 1961, 38, 40) percentage of the CPUSA consisted of recent immigrants, a substantial percentage of whom were Jews. In Philadelphia in the 1930’s, fully 72.2% of the CP members were the children of Jewish immigrants who came to the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century (Lyons 1982, 71). As late as 1929, 90% of the members of the Communist Party in Philadelphia were foreign born and in June of 1933 the national organization of the CPUSA was still 70% foreign born (Lyons 1982, 72- 73). Jews were the only native- born ethnic group from which the party was able to recruit. Glazer (1969; p. 129) states that at least half of the CPUSA membership of around 50,000 were Jews into the 1950s and that there was a very high rate of turnover, so that perhaps 10 times that number of individuals were involved in the Party and there were “an equal or larger number who were Socialists of one kind or another.” Writing of the 1920’s, Buhle (1980, p. 89) notes that “most of those favorable to the party and the Freiheit simply did not join— no more than a few thousand out of a following of a hundred times that large.”
There was also great concern within the Jewish community that the overrepresentation of Jews within the CPUSA would lead to anti- Semitism from the 1920s through the Cold War period: “The fight against the stereotype of Communist- Jew became a virtual obsession with Jewish leaders and opinion makers throughout America” (Liebman 1979, p. 515), and indeed, the association of Jews with the CPUSA was a focus of anti- Semitic literature (e. g., Henry Ford’s  International Jew; John Beaty’s  The Iron Curtain Over America). As a result, the AJCommittee engaged in intensive efforts to change opinion within the Jewish community by showing that Jewish interests were more compatible with advocating American democracy than Soviet Communism (e. g., emphasizing Soviet anti- Semitism and Soviet support of nations opposed to Israel in the period after World War II) (Cohen, 1972, p. 347ff).
b. Jewish Anti- Restrictionist Activity, 1924- 1945.
The saliency of Jewish involvement in United States immigration policy continued after the 1924 legislation. Particularly objectionable to Jewish groups was the national origins quota system. For example, a writer for the Jewish Tribune stated in 1927, “we . . . regard all measures for regulating immigration according to nationality as illogical, unjust, and un- American” (in Neuringer, 1971, p. 205). During the 1930s the most outspoken critic of further restrictions on immigration (motivated now mainly by the Great Depression) was Representative Samuel Dickstein, and Dickstein’s assumption of the chairmanship of the House Immigration Committee in 1931 marked the end of the ability of restrictionists to enact further reductions in quotas (Divine, 1957, pp. 79- 88). Jewish groups were the primary opponents of restriction and the primary supporters of liberalized regulations during the 1930s while their opponents emphasized the economic consequences of immigration during a period of high unemployment (Divine, 1957, pp. 85- 88). Between 1933 and 1938, Representative Dickstein introduced a number of bills aimed at increasing the number of refugees from Nazi Germany and supported mainly by Jewish organizations, but the restrictionists prevailed (Divine, 1957, p. 93).
During the 1930s, concerns about the radicalism and unassimilability of Jewish immigrants as well as the possibility of Nazi subversion were the main factors influencing the opposition to changing the immigration laws (Breitman & Kraut, 1987). Moreover, “( c) harges that the Jews in America were more loyal to their tribe than to their country abounded in the United States in the 1930s” (Breitman & Kraut, 1987, p. 87). There was a clear perception among all parties that the public opposed any changes in immigration policy and that the public was particularly opposed to Jewish immigration. The 1939 hearings on the proposed legislation to admit 20,000 German refugee children therefore minimized the Jewish interest in the legislation. The bill referred to people “of every race and creed suffering from conditions which compel them to seek refuge in other lands”. 13 The bill did not mention that Jews would be the main beneficiaries of the legislation, and witnesses in favor of the bill emphasized that only approximately 60% of the children would be Jewish. The only person identifying himself as “a member of the Jewish race” who testified in favor of the bill was “one- fourth Catholic and three- quarters Jewish” with Protestant and Catholic nieces and nephews, and from the South which was a bastion of anti- immigration sentiment. 14
On the other hand, opponents of the bill threatened to publicize the very large percentage of Jews already being admitted under the quota system— presumably an indication of the powerful force of a “virulent and pervasive” anti- Semitism among the American public (Breitman & Kraut, 1987, p. 80). Opponents noted that the immigration permitted by the bill “would be for the most part of the Jewish race,” and a witness testified “that the Jewish people will profit most by this legislation goes without saying” (in Divine, 1957, p. 100). The restrictionists argued in economic terms, e. g., by frequently citing President Roosevelt’s statement in his second inaugural speech “one- third of a nation ill- housed, ill- clad, ill- nourished” and citing large numbers of needy children already in the United States. However, the main restrictionist concern was that the bill was yet another in a long history of attempts by anti- restrictionists to develop precedents that would eventually undermine the 1924 law. For example, Francis Kinnecutt, President of the Allied Patriotic Societies, emphasized that the 1924 law had been based on the idea of proportional representation based on the ethnic composition of the country. The legislation would be a precedent “for similar unscientific and favored- nation legislation in response to the pressure of foreign nationalistic or racial groups, rather than in accordance with the needs and desires of the American people.” 15
Wilbur S. Carr and other State Department officials were important in minimizing the entry of Jewish refugees from Germany during the 1930s. Undersecretary of State William Phillips was an ardent anti- Semite with considerable influence on immigration policy between 1933- 1936 (Breitman & Kraut, 1987, p. 36). Throughout the period until the end of World War II attempts to foster Jewish immigration, even in the context of knowledge that the Nazis were persecuting Jews, were largely unsuccessful because of an unyielding Congress and the activities of bureaucrats, especially those in the State Department. 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, while opponents of admitting large numbers of Jews argued that admission would result in an increase in anti- Semitism. Henry Pratt Fairchild (1939, p. 344), who was a restrictionist and was highly critical of the Jews (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) magazine showed that 83% 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?” Less than 9% replied “yes” and the remainder had no opinion.
c. Jewish Anti- Restrictionist Activity, 1946- 1952.
Although Jewish interests were defeated by the 1924 legislation, “the discriminatory character of the Reed- Johnson Act continued to rankle all sectors of American Jewish opinion” (Neuringer, 1971, 196). During this period, an article by Will Maslow (1950) in Congress Weekly reiterated the belief that the restrictive immigration laws intentionally targeted Jews: “Only one type of law, immigration legislation which relates to aliens outside the country, is not subject to constitutional guarantees, and even here hostility toward Jewish immigration has had to be disguised in an elaborate quota scheme in which eligibility was based on place of birth rather than religion.”
The Jewish concern to alter the ethnic balance of the United States is apparent in the debates over immigration legislation during the post World War II era. In 1948 the AJCommittee submitted a statement to the Senate subcommittee which simultaneously denied the importance of the material interests of the United States as well as affirmed its commitment to immigration of all races:
Americanism is not to be measured by conformity to law, or zeal for education, or literacy, or any of these qualities in which immigrants may excel the native- born. Americanism is the spirit behind the welcome that America has traditionally extended to people of all races, all religions, all nationalities (in Cohen 1972, p. 369).
In 1945 Representative Emanuel Celler introduced a bill ending Chinese exclusion by establishing token quotas for Chinese, and in 1948 the AJCommittee condemned racial quotas on Asians (Divine, 1957, p. 155). On the other hand, Jewish groups had an attitude of indifference or even hostility toward immigration of non- Jews from Europe (including Southern Europe) in the post- World War II era (Neuringer, 1971, pp. 356, 367- 369, 383). Thus Jewish spokesmen did not testify at all during the first set of hearings on emergency legislation which allowed immigration of a limited number of German, Italian, Greek, and Dutch immigrants, escapees from Communism, and a small number of Poles, Orientals, and Arabs. When Jewish spokesmen eventually testified (partly because a small number of the escapees from Communism were Jews), they took the opportunity to once again focus on their condemnation of the national origins provisions of the 1924 law.
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 4 years, was funded mainly by the AJCommittee and other Jewish contributors (See Cong. Rec., October 15, 1949, pp. 14647- 14654; Neuringer 1971, p. ii) and maintained a staff of 65 people. Witnesses opposing the legislation complained that the bill was an attempt to subvert the ethnic balance of the United States established by the 1924 legislation (Divine 1957, p. 117). In the event, the bill that was reported out of the subcommittee did not satisfy Jewish interests because it established a cut- off date that excluded Jews who had migrated from Eastern Europe after World War II, including Jews fleeing Polish anti- Semitism. 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 Report No. 950
, pp. 15- 16). Jewish representatives led the assault on the bill (Divine 1957, p. 127), Representative Emanuel Celler terming it as “worse than no bill at all. All it does is exclude . . . Jews” (in Neuringer, 1971, p. 298; see also Divine, 1957, p. 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], pp. 252- 254). On the other hand, 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, p. 6793). In his analysis, Divine (1957, p. 143) concludes that
the expressed motive of the restrictionists, to limit the program to those people displaced during the course of the war, appears to be a valid explanation for these provisions. The tendency of Jewish groups to attribute the exclusion of many of their coreligionists to anti- Semitic bias is understandable; however, the extreme charges of discrimination made during the 1948 presidential campaign lead one to suspect that the northern wing of the Democratic party was using this issue to attract votes from members of minority groups. Certainly Truman’s assertion that the 1948 law was anti- Catholic, made in the face of Catholic denials, indicates that political expediency had a great deal to do with the emphasis on the discrimination issue.
In the aftermath of this bill, the Citizens Committee on Displaced Persons released a report labeling the bill as characterized by “hate and racism” and Jewish organizations were unanimous in denouncing the law (Divine, 1957, p. 131). 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 the bill, after passing the House, failed in the Senate because of the opposition of Senator Pat McCarran. During the hearings, McCarran noted that the Citizens Committee had spent over $800,000 lobbying for a liberalized 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, pp. 5042- 5043). After defeat, the Citizen’s 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, p. 2737; Senator McCarran, Cong. Rec. April 5, 1950, p. 4743).
At a time when there were no outbreaks of anti- Semitism in other parts of the world creating an urgent need for Jewish immigration and with the presence of Israel as a safe haven for Jews, Jewish organizations still vigorously objected to the continuation of the national origins provisions of the 1924 law in the McCarran- Walter law of 1952 (Neuringer 1971, p. 337ff). Indeed, when District Court of Appeals Judge Simon H. Rifkind testified on behalf of a wide range of Jewish organizations against the McCarran- Walter bill he noted emphatically that because of the international situation and particularly the existence of Israel as a safe haven for Jews, Jewish views on immigration legislation were not predicated on the “plight of our co- religionists but rather the impact which immigration and naturalization laws have upon the temper and quality of American life here in the United States.” 16 The argument was now typically couched in terms of “democratic principles and the cause of international amity” (Cohen 1972, p. 368)— the implicit theory being that the principles of democracy required ethnic diversity and the theory that the good will of other countries depended on American willingness to accept their citizens as immigrants. Rifkind noted that “( T) he enactment of [the McCarran- Walter bill] will gravely impair the national effort we are putting forth. For we are engaged in a war for the hearts and minds of men. The free nations of the world look to us for moral and spiritual reinforcement at a time when the faith which moves men is as important as the force they wield.” 17
The McCarran- Walter law explicitly included racial ancestry as a criterion in its provision that Orientals would be included in the token Oriental quotas no matter where they were born. Herbert Lehman, a senator from New York and the most prominent senatorial opponent of immigration restriction during the 1950s (Neuringer 1971, p. 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, pp. 346, 356). Representative Emanuel Celler and Representative Jacob Javits, the leaders of the anti- restrictionists in the House, made similar arguments (Cong. Rec., April 23, 1952, pp. 4306, 4219). As was also apparent in the battles dating back to the nineteenth century (see above), the opposition to the national origins legislation went beyond its effects on Jewish immigration to include advocacy of immigration into the United States of all of the racial/ ethnic groups of the world.
Reflecting a concern for maintaining the ethnic status quo as well as the salience of Jewish issues during the period, the hearings 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 Report No. 1515 , pp. 2- 4). The bill also included a provision that naturalized citizens automatically lost citizenship if they resided abroad continuously for 5 years. This provision was viewed by Jewish organizations as motivated by anti- Zionist attitudes: “Testimony by Government officials at the hearings . . . made it clear that the provision stemmed from a desire to dissuade naturalized American Jews from subscribing to a deeply held ideal which some officials in contravention of American policy regarded as undesirable . . . .” 18
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 Report, No. 1515, , pp. 442, 445- 446). The argument was sometimes phrased in terms of an emphasis on the “similarity of cultural background” of prospective immigrants, but again the underlying logic was that ethnic groups already in the country had legitimate interests in maintaining the ethnic status quo.
It is important to note that Jewish spokesmen 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. 19
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: “( T) he 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 immigrants, 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)
The opposition to needed skills as the basis of immigration was consistent with the prolonged Jewish attempt to delay the passage of a literacy test as a criterion for immigration beginning in the late nineteenth century until a literacy test was finally passed in 1917.
While Rifkind’s testimony was free of the accusation that present immigration policy was based on the theory of Nordic superiority, Nordic superiority continued to be a prominent theme of other Jewish groups advocating immigration from all ethnic groups, particularly the AJCongress. The statement of the AJCongress at these hearings focused a great deal of attention on the importance of the theory of Nordic supremacy as motivating the 1924 legislation, but also noted the previous history of ethnic discrimination that existed long before these theories were developed, including the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the gentlemen’s agreement with Japan of 1907 which limited immigration of Japanese workers, and the exclusion of other Asians in 1917. The statement noted that the 1924 legislation had succeeded in its aim of preserving the ethnic balance of the U. S. as of the 1920 census. However, it noted that “the objective is valueless. There is nothing sacrosanct about the composition of the population in 1920. It would be foolish to believe that we reached the peak of ethnic perfection in that year.” 20 Moreover, in an explicit statement of Horace Kallen’s multicultural ideal, the AJCongress statement advocated “the thesis of cultural democracy which would guarantee to all groups ‘majority and minority alike . . . the right to be different and the responsibility to make sure that their differences do not conflict with the welfare of the American people as a whole. ’” 21
During this period, the Congress Weekly, the journal of the AJCongress, regularly denounced the national origins provisions as based on the “myth of the existence of superior and inferior racial stocks” (Oct. 17, 1955; p. 3) and advocated immigration on the basis of “need and other criteria unrelated to race or national origin” (May 4, 1953, p. 3). Particularly objectionable from the perspective of the AJCongress was the implication that there should be no change in the ethnic status quo prescribed by the 1924 legislation (e. g., Goldstein, 1952a, p. 6). The national origins formula “is outrageous now . . . when our national experience has confirmed beyond a doubt that our very strength lies in the diversity of our peoples” (Goldstein, 1952b, p. 5).
As indicated above, there is some evidence that the 1924 legislation and the restrictionism of the 1930s was motivated partly by anti- Semitic attitudes. Anti- Semitism and its linkage with anti- Communism was also apparent in the immigration arguments during the 1950s preceding and following the passage of the McCarran- Walter act. Restrictionists often pointed to evidence that over 90% of American Communists had backgrounds linking them to Eastern Europe and a major thrust of their efforts was to prevent immigration from this area and to ease deportation procedures to prevent Communist subversion. Since Eastern Europe was also the origin of most Jewish immigration and because Jews were disproportionately represented among American Communists, these issues became linked and the situation lent itself to broad anti- Semitic conspiracy theories about the role of Jews in American politics (e. g., Beaty, 1951). In Congress, the notorious anti- Semite Representative John Rankin, without making explicit reference to Jews, stated that
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 satellite 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 communistic program on the Christian people of America, there is no telling what will happen to them here” (Cong. Rec.,
April 23, 1952, p. 4320). Reinforcing these links, the position of mainstream Jewish organizations such as the AJCommittee, which opposed communism, often coincided with the position of the CPUSA on issues of immigration. 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, p. 166). Jews were disproportionately represented on the PCIN as well as in the organizations viewed by Congress as Communist front organizations involved in immigration issues, and this was undoubtedly highly salient to anti- Semites. 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, p. 3). The proceedings were printed as the report
Whom We Shall Welcome with the cooperation of Representative Emanuel Celler. 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 Report No. 1182, 85th Congress, 1st Session, p. 47). The report referred particularly to Communists associated with the American Committee for the Protection of Foreign Born (ACPFB) headed by Abner Green. Green, who was Jewish, figured very prominently in these hearings, and Jews were generally disproportionately represented among those singled out as officers and sponsors of the ACPFB (pp. 13- 21). HUAC provided evidence that ACPFB had close ties with the CPUSA and noted that 24 of the individuals associated with the ACPFB had signed statements incorporated into the printed record of the PCIN.
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, p. 371). All of its recommendations were incorporated into the final report (Cohen, 1972, p. 371) (including a de- emphasis 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. The AJCommittee thus went beyond merely advocating the principle of immigration from all racial/ ethnic groups (token quotas for Asians and Africans had already been included in the McCarran- Walter act) to attempt to maximize the total number of immigrants from all parts of the world within the current political climate.
Indeed, the Commission (PCIN, 1953, p. 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 non- quota immigrants and because the countries of Northern and Western Europe did not fill their quotas) but the total number of immigrants allowed into the United States. 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 amount of immigration (PCIN, 1953, p. 42). As Bennett (1963, p. 164) notes, in the eyes of the PCIN, the 1924 legislation reducing the total number of immigrants “was a very bad thing because of its finding that one race is just as good as another for American citizenship or any other purpose.”
Correspondingly, the defenders of the 1952 legislation conceptualized the issue as fundamentally one of ethnic warfare. Senator McCarran stated that subverting the national origins system “would, in the course of a generation or so, tend to change the ethnic and cultural composition of this nation” (in Bennett, 1963, p. 185), and Richard Arens, a Congressional staff member who had a prominent role in the hearings on the McCarran- Walter bill as well as in the activities of the HUAC, stated that “these are the critics who do not like America as it is and has been. They think our people exist in unfair ethnic proportions. They prefer that we bear a greater resemblance or ethnic relationship to the foreign peoples whom they favor and for whom they are seeking disproportionately greater immigration privileges” (in Bennett, 1963, 186). As Divine (1957, p. 188) notes, ethnic interests predominated on both sides; the charges of racism made against the restrictionists who were advocating the ethnic status quo were balanced against the attempts by anti- restrictionists to alter the ethnic status quo in a manner that conformed to their own perceived ethnic interests.
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 national origins in any form would be “a political and moral catastrophe” (“ Revision of Immigration Laws” Joint
Hearings, 1950, pp. 336- 337). The national origins formula implies that “persons in quest of the opportunity to live in this land are to be judged according to breed like cattle at a country fair and not on the basis of their character fitness or capacity” (Congress Weekly 21, 1952, pp. 3- 4). Divine (1957, p. 173) characterizes the AJCongress as representing “the more militant wing” of the opposition because of its principled opposition to any form of the national origins formula, whereas other opponents merely wanted to be able to distribute unused quotas to Southern and Eastern Europe.
Representative Francis Walter noted the “propaganda drive that is being engaged in now by certain members of the American Jewish Congress opposed to the Immigration and Nationality Code” (Cong. Rec. Mar, 13, 1952, p. 2283), noting particularly the activities of Dr. Israel Goldstein, president of the AJCongress, who had been reported in the New York Times as having stated that the Immigration and Nationality law would place “a legislative seal of inferiority on all persons of other than AngloSaxon origin.” Representative Walter then noted the special role that Jewish organizations had played in attempting to foster family reunion rather than special skills as the basis of United States immigration policy. After Representative Jacob Javits stated that opposition to the law was “not confined to the one group the gentleman mentioned” (Congressional Record, March 13, 1952, p. 2284), Walter responded as follows:
I might call your attention to the fact that Mr. Harry N. Rosenfield, Commissioner of the Displaced Persons Commission and incidentally a brother- in- law of a lawyer who is stirring up all this agitation, in a speech recently said:
The proposed legislation is America’s Nuremberg trial. It is “racious” and archaic, based on a theory that people with different styles of noses should be treated differently. Representative Walter then went on to note that during the hearings on the bill, the only two organizations that were hostile to the entire bill were the AJCongress and the Association of Immigration and Nationality Lawyers, the latter “represented by an attorney who is also advising and counseling the American Jewish Congress.” (Indeed, Goldstein [1952b] himself noted that “at the time of the Joint House- Senate hearings on the McCarran bill, the American Jewish Congress was the only civic group which dared flatly to oppose the national origins quota formula.”)
Representative Emanuel Celler then stated that Walter “should not have overemphasized 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, p. 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). 22 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.
Albeit by indirection, Representative Walter was clearly calling attention to the special Jewish role in the immigration conflict of 1952. The special role of the AJCongress in opposing the McCarranWalter act was a source of pride within the group: on the verge of victory in 1965, the Congress biWeekly
editorialized that it was “a cause of pride” that Rabbi Israel Goldstein had been “singled out by Rep. Walter for attack on the floor of the House of Representatives as the prime organizer of the campaign against the measures he co- sponsored” (Feb. 1, 1965; p. 3).
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 that “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 that “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, p. 372). And in a comment referring to the peculiarities of Jewish interests in immigration legislation, Richard Arens, Staff Director of the Senate subcommittee that produced the McCarran- Walter act, pointedly noted that “one of the curious things about those who most loudly claim that the 1952 act is ‘discriminatory’ and that it does not make allowance for a sufficient number of alleged refugees, is that they oppose admission of any of the approximately one million Arab refugees in camps where they are living in pitiful circumstances after having been driven out of Israel” (in Bennett, 1963, p. 181).
The McCarran- Walter Act was passed over President Truman’s veto, and Truman’s “alleged partisanship to Jews was a favorite target of anti- Semites” (Cohen, 1972, p. 377). Prior to the veto, Truman was intensively lobbied, “particularly [by] Jewish societies” opposed to the bill, while government agencies, including the State Department urged Truman to sign the bill (Divine, 1957, p. 184). Moreover, individuals with openly anti- Semitic attitudes, such as John Beaty (1951), often focused on Jewish involvement in the immigration battles during this period.
d. Jewish Anti- Restrictionist Activity, 1953- 1965.
During this period, the Congress Weekly regularly noted the role of Jewish organizations as the vanguard of liberalized immigration laws: For example, in its editorial of Feb. 20, 1956 (p. 3), it congratulated President Eisenhower for his “unequivocal opposition to the quota system which, more than any other feature of our immigration policy, has excited the most widespread and most intense aversion among Americans. In advancing this proposal for ‘new guidelines and standards’ in determining admissions, President Eisenhower has courageously taken a stand in advance of even many advocates of a liberal immigration policy and embraced a position which had at first been urged by the American Jewish Congress and other Jewish agencies.”
The AJCommittee made a major effort to keep the immigration issue alive during a period of widespread apathy among the American public between the passage of the McCarran- Walter act and the early 1960s. Jewish organizations intensified their effort during this period (Cohen, 1972, pp. 370- 373; Neuringer, 1971, p. 358), with the AJCommittee helping to establish the Joint Conference on Alien Legislation and the American Immigration Conference (organizations representing pro- immigration forces) as well as providing most of the funding and performing most of the work of these groups. In 1955 the AJCommittee organized a group of influential citizens as the National Commission on Immigration and Citizenship “in order to give prestige to the campaign” (Cohen, 1972, p. 373). “All these groups studied immigration laws, disseminated information to the public, presented testimony to Congress, and planned other appropriate activities. . . . There were no immediate or dramatic results; but AJC’s dogged campaign in conjunction with like- minded organizations ultimately prodded the Kennedy and Johnson administrations to action” (Cohen, 1972, p. 373).
An article by Oscar Handlin (1952), the prominent Harvard historian of immigration, is a fascinating microcosm of the Jewish approach to immigration during this period. Writing in
Commentary (a publication of the AJCommittee) almost 30 years after the 1924 defeat and in the immediate aftermath of the McCarran- Walter act, Handlin entitled his article “The immigration fight has only begun: Lessons of the McCarran- Walter setback.” The title is a remarkable indication of the tenacity and persistence of Jewish commitment to this issue. The message is to not be discouraged by the recent defeat which occurred despite “all the effort toward securing the revision of our immigration laws” (p. 2).
Handlin attempts to cast the argument in universalist terms as benefiting all Americans and as conforming to American ideals that “all men, being brothers, are equally capable of being Americans” (p. 7). Current immigration law reflects “racist xenophobia” (p. 2) by its token quotas for Asians and its deprivation of the right of West Indian Blacks to take advantage of British quotas. Handlin ascribes the restrictionist sentiments of Pat McCarran to “the hatred of foreigners that was all about him in his youth and by the dim, recalled fear that he himself might be counted among them” (p. 3)— a sort of psychoanalytic identification- with- the- aggressor argument (McCarran was Catholic).
In his article Handlin repeatedly uses the term “we” (as in “( i) f we cannot beat McCarran and his cohorts with their own weapons, we can do much to destroy the efficacy of those weapons (p. 4),” suggesting Handlin’s belief in a unified Jewish interest in liberal immigration policy and presaging a prolonged “chipping away” of the 1952 legislation in the ensuing years. Handlin’s anti- restrictionist strategy included altering the views of social scientists to the effect “that it was possible and necessary to distinguish among the ‘races’ of immigrants that clamored for admission to the United States” (p. 4). Handlin’s proposal to recruit social scientists in the immigration battles is congruent with the political agenda of the Boasian school of anthropology discussed above. And as Higham (1984) notes, the ascendancy of such views was as an important component of the ultimate victory over restrictionism.
In an arguably tendentious rendering of the logic of preserving the ethnic status quo that underlay the arguments for restriction in the period from 1921- 1952, Handlin stated:
The laws are bad because they rest on the racist assumption that mankind is divided into fixed breeds, biologically and culturally separated from each other, and because, within that framework, they assume that Americans are Anglo- Saxons by origin and ought to remain so. To all other peoples, the laws say that the United States ranks them in terms of their racial proximity to our own ‘superior’ stock; and upon the many, many millions of Americans not descended from the Anglo- Saxons, the laws cast a distinct imputation of inferiority (p. 5).
Handlin then deplored the apathy of other “hyphenated Americans” to share the enthusiasm of the Jewish effort: “Many groups failed to see the relevance of the McCarran- Walter Bill to their own position;” he suggested that they ought to act as groups to assert their rightful interests: “The Italian American has the right to be heard on these issues precisely as an Italian American” (p. 7; italics in text). The implicit assumption is that America ought to be composed of cohesive subgroups with a clear sense of their group interests in opposition to the peoples deriving from Northern and Western Europe or of the United States as a whole. And there is the implication that Italian- Americans have an interest in furthering immigration of Africans and Asians and in creating such a multiracial and multicultural society.
Shortly after Handlin’s article, William Petersen (1955), also writing in Commentary, argued that pro- immigration forces should be explicit in their advocacy of a multicultural society, and that the importance of this goal transcended the importance of achieving any self- interested goal of the United States, such as obtaining needed skills or improving foreign relations. In making his case he cited a group of predominantly Jewish social scientists whose works, beginning with Horace Kallen’s plea for a multicultural, pluralistic society, “constitute the beginning of a scholarly legitimization of the different immigration policy that will perhaps one day become law” (p. 86), including, besides Kallen, Melville Herskovits, Geoffrey Gorer, Samuel Lubell, David Riesman, Thorsten Sellin, and Milton Konvitz.
These social scientists did indeed contribute to the immigration battles. For example, the following quotation from a scholarly book on immigration policy by Milton Konvitz of Cornell University reflects the rejection of national interest as an element of United States immigration policy— a hallmark of the Jewish approach to immigration:
To place so much emphasis on technological and vocational qualifications is to remove every vestige of humanitarianism from our immigration policy. We deserve small thanks from those who come here if they are admitted because we find that they are “urgently” needed, by reason of their training and experience, to advance our national interests. This is hardly immigration; it is the importation of special skills or know- how, not greatly different from the importation of coffee or rubber. It is hardly in the spirit of American ideals to disregard a man’s character and promise and to look only at his education and the vocational opportunities he had the good fortune to enjoy (Konvitz, 1953, p. 26).
Handlin wrote that the McCarran- Walter law was only a temporary setback and he was right. Thirty years after the triumph of restrictionism, only Jewish groups remained as persistent and tenacious advocates of a multicultural America. Forty- one years after the 1924 triumph of restrictionism and the national origins provision and only 13 years after its reaffirmation with the McCarran- Walter Act of 1952, Jewish organizations successfully supported ending the geographically based national origins basis of immigration intended to result in an ethnic status quo in what was now a radically altered intellectual and political climate.
Particularly important is the provision in the Immigration Act of 1965 that expanded the number of non- quota immigrants. Beginning in their testimony on the 1924 law, Jewish spokesmen had been in the forefront in attempts to admit family members on a nonquota basis (Neuringer, 1971, p. 191). During the House debates on immigration surrounding the McCarran- Walter Act, Representative Walter (Cong.
Rec., p. 2284, March 13, 1952) 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% of the quota for “Negroes” from the British West Indies colonies would be reserved for people with special skills, Walter noted that “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.”
Prior to the 1965 law, Bennett (1963, p. 244), commenting on the family unification aspects of the 1961 immigration legislation, noted that the “relationship by blood or marriage and the principle of uniting families have become the ‘open Sesame’ to the immigration gates.” Moreover, despite repeated denials by the anti- restrictionists that their proposals would affect the ethnic balance of the country, Bennett (1963, p. 256) commented that the “repeated, persistent extension of nonquota status to immigrants from countries with oversubscribed quotas and flatly discriminated against by [the McCarran- Walter act] together with administrative waivers of inadmissibility, adjustment of status and private bills, is helping to speed and make apparently inevitable a change in the ethnic face of the nation” (p. 257)— a reference to the “chipping away” of the 1952 law recommended as a strategy in Handlin’s article. Indeed, a major argument apparent in the debate over the 1965 legislation was that the 1952 law had been so weakened that it had largely become irrelevant and there was a need to overhaul immigration legislation to legitimize a de facto situation.
Bennett also noted that “( t) he stress on the immigration issue arises from insistence of those who regard quotas as ceilings, not floors [opponents of restriction often referred to unused quotas as “wasted”], who want to remake America in the image of small- quota countries and who do not like our basic ideology, cultural attitudes and heritage. They insist that it is the duty of the United States to accept immigrants irrespective of their assimilability or our own population problems. They insist on remaining hyphenated Americans” (1963, p. 295).
The family- based emphasis of the quota regulations of the 1965 law (e. g., the provision that at least 24% of the quota for each area be set aside for brothers and sisters of citizens) has resulted in a multiplier effect which ultimately subverted the quota system entirely by allowing for a “chaining” phenomenon in which endless chains of the close relatives of close relatives are admitted outside the quota system:
Imagine one immigrant, say an engineering student, who was studying in the U. S. during the 1960’s. If he found a job after graduation, he could then bring over his wife [as the spouse of a resident alien], and six years later, after being naturalized, his bothers and sisters [as siblings of a citizen]. They, in turn, could bring their wives, husbands, and children. Within a dozen years, one immigrant entering as a skilled worker could easily generate 25 visas for in- laws, nieces, and nephews (McConnell 1988, p. 98).
The 1965 law also de- emphasized the criterion that immigrants should have needed skills. (In 1986, less than 4% of immigrants were admitted on the basis of needed skills, while 74% were admitted on the basis of kinship [see Brimelow, 1995].) As indicated above, the rejection of a skill requirement or other tests of competence in favor of “humanitarian goals” and family unification had been an element of Jewish immigration policy at least since debate on the McCarran- Walter act of the early 1950s and extending really to the long opposition to literacy tests dating from the end of the nineteenth century.
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. Jewish organizations (American Council for Judaism Philanthropic Fund; Council of Jewish Federations & Welfare Funds; B’nai B’rith Women) filed briefs in support of the measure before the Senate Subcommittee, as did organizations such as the ACLU and the Americans for Democratic Action with a large Jewish membership.
Indeed, it is noteworthy that well before the ultimate triumph of the Jewish policy on immigration, Javits (1951) authored an article entitled “Let’s open the gates” that proposed immigration level of 500,000 per year for 20 years with no restrictions on national origin. In 1961 Javits proposed a bill that “sought to destroy the [national origins quota system] by a flank attack and to increase quota and nonquota immigration” (Bennett, 1963, p. 250). In addition to provisions aimed at removing barriers due to race, ethnic and national origins, included in this bill was a provision that brothers, sisters, and married sons or daughters of United States citizens and their spouses and children who had become eligible under the quota system in legislation of 1957 be included as nonquota immigrants— an even more radical version of the provision whose incorporation in the 1965 law facilitated non- European immigration into the United States. Although this provision of Javit’s bill was not approved at the time, the bill’s proposals for softening previous restrictions on Asian and Black immigration as well as removing racial classification from visa documents (thus allowing unlimited nonquota immigration of Asians born in the Western Hemisphere) were approved.
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, p. 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 implications on United States foreign policy. In a highly revealing discussion of the bill before the Senate, Senator Sam Ervin (Cong. Rec. 89th Congress, 1st session, pp. 24446- 51, 1965) 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.
The pro- immigrationists also failed to prevent a requirement that the Secretary of Labor determine that there are insufficient Americans able and willing to perform the labor which the aliens intend to perform, and that the employment of such aliens will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of American workers. Writing in the American Jewish Year Book, Liskofsky (1966, 174) notes that pro- immigration groups opposed these regulations but agreed to them in order to get a bill that ended the national origins provisions. After passage “they became intensely concerned. They voiced publicly the fear that the new, administratively cumbersome procedure might easily result in paralyzing most immigration of skilled and unskilled workers as well as of non- preference immigrants.” Reflecting the long Jewish opposition to the idea that immigration policy should be in the national interest, the economic welfare of American citizens was irrelevant; securing high levels of immigration had become an end in itself.
The 1965 law is having the effect that it seems reasonable to suppose had been intended by its Jewish advocates all along: the Census Bureau projects that by the year 2050, European- derived peoples will no longer be a majority of the population of America. Moreover, multiculturalism has already become a powerful ideological and political reality (Brimelow, 1995). Although the proponents of the 1965 legislation continued to insist that the bill would not affect the ethnic balance of the United States or even impact its culture, it is difficult to believe that at least some of the proponents were unaware of the eventual implications. Opponents, certainly, were quite clear that it would indeed affect the ethnic balance of the United States. Given the intense involvement of organizations such as the AJCommittee in the details of immigration legislation and their very negative attitudes toward the North- Western European bias of pre- 1965 United States immigration policy and very negative attitudes toward the idea of an ethnic status quo embodied, e. g., in the PCIN document Whom We Shall Welcome, it appears unlikely to suppose that these organizations were unaware of the inaccuracy of the projections of the effects of this legislation that were made by its supporters. Given the clearly articulated interests in ending the ethnic status quo evident in the arguments of anti- restrictionists throughout the period from 1924- 1965, the 1965 law would not have been perceived by its proponents as a victory unless they viewed it as ultimately changing the ethnic status quo. Revealingly, the 1965 law was viewed as a victory by the anti- restrictionists, and it is noteworthy that after regularly condemning United States immigration law and championing the eradication of the national origins formula precisely because it had produced an ethnic status quo, The Congress bi- Weekly completely ceased publishing articles on this topic.
Moreover, Lawrence Auster (1990, p. 31ff) shows that the supporters of the legislation repeatedly glossed over the distinction between quota and non- quota immigration and failed to mention the effect that the legislation would have on non- quota immigration. Projections of the number of new immigrants failed to take account of the well- known and often commented- upon fact that the old quotas favoring Western European countries were not being filled. Moreover, continuing a tradition of over 40 years, the rhetoric of those in favor of the bill presented the legislation of 1924 and 1952 as based on theories of racial superiority and as involving racial discrimination rather than in terms of an attempt to create an ethnic status quo.
Even in 1952, Senator McCarran was well aware of the high stakes at risk in immigration policy: 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, p. 1518.)
Continue to part 3