American Immigration Policy, a Reappraisal

By William S. Bernard; Carolyn Zeleny et al. | Go to book overview
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Introduction

The last two wars have borne home to the American people the realization that no nation, however large or small, can exist independently of the other nations of the world. The strong implications of internationalism, together with developments in the post-war world which have highlighted our responsibilities as one of the great democratic nations, have led us to re-examine many areas of American life. Every day we see fresh evidence of efforts to re-orient our foreign and domestic policies in the light of this newly evolved type of thinking.

It is therefore not surprising that recent years have been marked by a rising concern on the part of many thoughtful Americans with respect to our present immigration policy. Nearly three decades have passed since our highly restrictive quota law was put into effect in the 1920's, and it is time that its principles be re-evaluated in terms of a changed post-war world and that the effects of such a policy upon the welfare of our nation, present and future, be reviewed.

It is often forgotten that the quota law, restricting immigration and establishing a basis for the selection of immigrants according to national origins, was an imperfect device aimed at securing certain results at a specific time in our history. It was the product of a set of circumstances in our country entirely different from those that apply today. This law was designed to counteract the one hundred and thirty years of unrestricted immigration which in the decade immediately preceding the First World War had averaged one million immigrants per year. The law sought to

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