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PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE IMMIGRATION ACT
HOUSE OF REPRÉSENTATIVES,
Monday, January 27, 1930. The committee met at 10 o'clock a. m., Hon. Albert Johnson, of Washington (chairman), presiding.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will be in order. By an order at a previous meeting of the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, this day was set aside for the consideration of the bills H. R. 5645, 5646, 5647, 5648, 6852, and 7703, all introduced by Representative Dickstein, of New York, a member of this committee. This hearing will run on these bills, but will include any of the bills that have for their purpose any phases of the bills mentioned.
Quite a number of witnesses are present, and it will be desirable to be as brief as possible, and we will get along rather rapidly, and hear as many as possible to-day.
Now, I will ask Mr. Dickstein to take charge.
Mr. DICKSTEIN. I will call first Miss Wold, who wants to get away.
STATEMENT OF EMMA WOLD, LEGISLATIVE SECRETARY OF THE
NATIONAL WOMEN'S PARTY
The CHAIRMAN. Will you give your business address and your position?
Miss Wold. I am legislative secretary of the National Women's Party; address 144 B Street, NE.
The CHAIRMAN. Now, Miss Wold, we would be glad to hear any statement you want to make.
Miss Wold. Mr. Chairman, I appear as legislative secretary of the National Women's Party on the ground of the principle for which that party stands, the principle of equality for men and women.
The particular phase of the bills that we are interested in is that which will provide the same right for an American woman who has an alien husband as for an American man who has an alien wife, to bring in the spouse as a nonquota immigrant.
If we had had any question before about the right of an American woman to have the same privileges as an American man, that was removed a few months ago by the decision of the United States Supreme Court in the Rozika Schwimmer case, the case of the United States v. Rozika Schwimmer, reported in 279 U. S., decided last May, in which the court held that a woman applying for naturalization was subject to just the same requirements as a man; particu
larly, in this case, the requirement of willingness to take arms and bear arms in defense of the country.
We have been taught that obligations and privileges are correlative; where persons owe similar obligations and duties, they are entitled to similar privileges and rights; and it is upon that ground that we support this measure asking that the alien husband of an American wife may be given full nonquota status.
Mr. DICKSTEIN. Providing he is morally and physically fit.
Miss Wold. The nonquota immigrants, as I understand, both men and women, are subject to that requirement, are they not?
The CHAIRMAN. I take it that this particular testimony runs to the H. R. 5646, providing to admit exempt from the quota husbands, fathers, and mothers of American citizens?
Miss Woli. Yes.
Miss WOLD. That is the law.
Miss WOLD. The law now reads that the wife must have been married to this alien husband before June 1, 1928—or May 31.
The CHAIRMAN. May 31, 1928; and that bill became law only two days before that limit expired ?
Miss WOLD. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. Can you imagine why a date certain was put in the bill as it became a law?
Miss Wold. I can imagine, Mr. Chairman, that the idea was that if an unlimited date were placed upon it, women would rush abroad to acquire foreign husbands and bring them in, in large numbers.
The CHAIRMAN. That might result in marriages of convenience? Miss WOLD. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. Or marriages for the purpose of bringing men into the United States?
Miss WOLD. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. The point is this, that the House committee undertook to pass, and did so, and reported, a bill. Miss WOLD. And as I understand, it passed the House, did it not?
The CHAIRMAN. And it passed the House. Now I think it would be advisable at this point to insert the text of the bill that the House passed, and the report thereon. Without objection, it is so ordered.
(The bill and report referred to is here printed in the RECORD as follows:)
[H. R. 12816, Seventieth Congress, first session)
A BILL Relating to the immigration of certain relatives of United States citizens and
aliens lawfully admitted to the United States
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That subdivision (a) of section 4 of the immigration act of 1924 is amended to read as follows:
“(a) An immigrant who is the unmarried child under twenty-one years of age, the wife, or the husband, of a citizen of the United States;
SEC. 2. Section 6 of the Immigration Act of 1924 is amended, to take effect July 1, 1928, to read as follows:
SEC. 6. (a) Immigration visas to quota immigrants shall be issued in each fiscal year as follows:
*(1) Fifty per centum of the quota of each nationality for such year shall be made available in such year for the issuance of immigration visas to the following classes of immigrants, without priority of preference as between such classes : (A) Quota immigrants who are the fathers, or the mothers, of citizens of the United States who are twenty-one years of age or over; and (B) in the case of any nationality the quota for which is three hundred or more, quota immigrants who are skilled in agriculture, and the wives, and the dependent children under the age of eighteen years, of such immigrants skilled in agriculture, if accompanying or following to join them.
"(2) The remainder of the quota of each nationality for such year, plus any portion of the 50 per centum referred to in paragraph (1) not required in such year for the issuance of immigration visas to the classes specified in such paragraph, shall be made available in such year for the issuance of immigration risas to quota immigrants of such nationality who are the unmarried children under twenty-one years of age, the husbands, or the wives, of aliens lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence.
"(3) Any portion of the quota of each nationality for such year not required for the issuance of immigration visas to the classes specified in paragraphs (1) and (2) shall be made available in such year for the issuance of immigration visas to other quota immigrants of such nationality.
"(b) The preference provided in paragraphs (1) and (2) of subdivision (a) shall, in the case of quota immigrants of any nationality, be given in the calendar month in which the right to preference is established, if the number of immigration visas which may be issued in such month to quota immigrants of such nationality has not already been issued; otherwise, in the next calendar month."
[H. R. 1317, Seventieth Congress, first session]
The Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, to which was referred H. R. 12816, after hearings and consideration, reports the same favorably and recommends that the bill do pass.
The passage of the Johnson quota law in 1924 marked an epoch in immigration legislation. The application and enforcement of any comprehensive law brings out suggestions for its improvement. The strict application of the quota has worked some hardships; it could not well have done otherwise. To remove some of these hardships without seriously affecting the underlying principles of the Johnson Act is the purpose of H. R. 12816.
In the consideration of the quota restrictions of our laws it appears that the people who are interested in the matter divide themselves into two classes. There is that class of restrictionists who maintain that “there should be no letting down of the bars” and there is that class that contends for a reuniting of families."
In the first-mentioned class are many who, if confronted with the situations that confront those in the second group, would no doubt give serious consideration to the requests for a reunion of members of families. Recognizing that restriction of immigration is an accepted national policy, and further realizing a happy family life is the corner stone of Americanism, it is believed that H. R. 12816 gives the maximum of relief to families that can be provided without extending the quotas and at the same time lets down the bars to the very minimum.
H. R. 12816 amends section 4 and section 6 of the immigration law. No other sections are involved. Under section 4 as it now reads, “the unmarried child under 18 years of age or the wife of a citizen is admitted outside the quota. The husband is not included in this language. It is argued with much force that the age limit should be increased to 21 years and that the husbands should be included with the wives. There was much sentiment for this change when the original quota law was adopted. It is claimed that if a citizen husband is entitled to have his wife come in nonquota, a citizen wife should have her husband come in nonquota. It is claimed that in these modern days unmarried children between the ages of 18 and 21 are usually finishing their education and should not be separated from their parents. These are the arguments for this bill as made by those who favored reuniting the families. If this bill becomes a law, it is hoped that it will become a permanent part of the quota law.
As to how many will be entitled to admission by reason of the change in section 4 there is some uncertainty. The Department of State has made a sur
vey of the situation and, as will appear from that survey hereto appended, it is estimated if this proposed amendment had been in the original law, 8,261 children and husbands would have been entitled to admission from July 1, 1924, to March 1, 1928, or a little over 2,000 per year. Of this number only a small percentage would have been husbands who would have found their way into the field of production in opposition to producers already here. It is claimed that the number admitted under this amendment will decrease rapidly and that within four or five years the number will be much smaller. The reason for this claim is that the amendment to section 6 as provided in H. R. 12816 will relieve the situation more rapidly. For under section 6, if amended, an immigrant lawfully admitted for permanent residence may bring his wife and children in at any time that they can be reached by the quota. He must be able to show his lawful entry for permanent residence. Under this section he will not be compelled to wait until he becomes a citizen. Section 4 offers no relief to any one but citizens. This proposition is clarified further by the appended statement referred to heretofore.
The principal relief for reuniting families is found in the amendment of section 6. After taking from section 6, "the children between the ages of 18 and 21” and the “husbands” there remains the " fathers and mothers of citizens " and the agriculturists." These last two classes are kept in section 6 and given the same priority of preference as before. In fact, their preference chances are increased by reason of the removal of the other classes above mentioned from this section. Section 6 at present sets aside 50 per cent of the quota as preferences. No part of that is given to the families of immigrants lawfully within the country for permanent residence. This is the great class that has touched the heart of our people. There is no gainsaying the argument that families should be united. At the same time it must be remembered that the responsibilities for the severance of these family ties must be placed upon the head of the family himself. However that may be, we are confronted with a condition that needs attention. This amendment to section 6 sets apart the remaining 50 per cent of the quota for the “ unmarried children under 21 years of age, the husbands, or the wives of aliens lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence.” In addition, this class is entitled to any portion of the other 50 per cent not used by the parents and agriculturists. As there are very few agriculturists coming from the countries where the question of reuniting families is acute practically all the quota is devoted to the reuniting of families. The preference to agriculturists does not apply in countries with quotas of less than 300.
The general effect of this law will be to relieve this stress for reuniting families in all countries by more than 50 per cent and in most of the countries it will relieve the situation within two or three years. It preserves the quota law practically intact. The recessions made are very inconsequential and are largely remedial of the original law. The shifting of the preferences and the enlarging thereof gives the maximum of opportunity for reuniting families. This bill will not affect the countries of northern and western Europe, for their quotas are sufficiently large to take care of members of families and agriculturists. The report of the State Department is as follows:
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, April 19, 1928. Hon. ALBERT JOHNSON,
House of Representatives. DEAR MR. JOHNSON: I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of April 4, 1928, inclosing a copy of H. R. 12626, introduced by Representative Thomas A. Jenkins,“ relating to the immigration of certain relatives of United States citizens and aliens lawfully admitted to the United States." I am pleased to give you as follows, as you request, an expression of the department's views respecting this measure, together with a statement as to the effect the provisions of the bill, if enacted, may be expected to have upon immigration to the United States under the immigration act of 1924, for incorporation in the committee's report on the bill to the House of Representatives.
With reference to the amendment of section 4(a) of the act, which the bill first proposes, by which the unmarried child under 21 years of age (instead of the child up to 18 years of age only, as at present) and the husband of a citizen of the United States will be given nonquota status, in addition to the wife of a citizen, this department has made a careful study of its records in an endeavor to determine the number of such aliens who would be affected by the proposed amendment and the results are set forth as follows:
From July 1, 1924, to March 1, 1928, this department has received from the Department of Labor and transmitted to the appropriate American consuls abroad, with authorization for the granting of preference status, petitions filed by American citizens for alien relatives under the provisions of section 9 of the immigation act of 1924, covering 51,631 persons, of whom 25,288 had received visas by M 1, 1928, and the balance, 26,343, were awaiting visas. These alien relatives are those accorded preference status under section 6 (a) (1) of the act, viz, the unmarried child under 21 years of age, the father, the mother, the husband, or the wife of a citizen of the United States who is 21 years of age or over, Parenthetically it may be pointed out here that the wife and unmarried child under 18 years of age of a citizen are accorded nonquota status under section 4 (a) instead of preference status under section 6 (a) (1), if the citizen " resides” in the United States at the time of the filing of petition. There appears to have been only a negligible number of such relatives accorded preference status.
The impracticability of examining individually the records of 51,631 persons to arrive at a separate total for parents, for husbands, and for children, led the department to adopt the following means to arrive at what is believed to be a very close approximation of the true totals. The records of 100 persons for whom petitions had been received shortly after the act became effective, and of an additional 100 for whom petitions have recently been received were individually inspected under 10 different quotas and a total of 2,000 cases was thus inspected. On this basis it was ascertained that 84 per cent of the aliens concerned were parents of American citizens, 13 per cent children and 3 per cent husbands. By applying these percentage factors to the totals of petitions for preference granted, visas issued to preference applicants by March 1, 1928, and preference applicants awaiting visas on that date, the following results are obtained :
It will be seen from the above table that under the proposed amendment of section 4 (a), which the department would understand to have a retroactive effect with respect to the aliens concerned who are awaiting visas, a total of 4,215 children and husbands would be entitled to immediate consideration for visas. Had such relatives been accorded nonquota status by the original act a total of 8,261 from July 1, 1924, to March 1, 1928, would have been affected.
As to the number of husbands and children who would continue to come to the United States outside the quota restrictions, it can only be pointed out that the cases of those accorded preference status as mentioned above have averaged 2,254 a year. The quota restrictions upon immigration, especially the greater numerical limitations imposed by the immigration act of 1924, may be expected to have a corresponding effect upon naturalization and to reduce eventually the number of new citizens having such relatives abroad. Moreover, Representative Jenkins's bill further proposes to accord a preferred status within the quotas to the children and husbands, besides the wives of lawfully-admitted aliens. This provision, it would seem, would operate to reduce the number of children and husbands to be accorded nonquota status in that a number of such relatives would enter as quota immigrants before the relative in the United States obtained citizenship and other new quota immigrants, who might have such relatives, would thus be superseded. It is pertinent also to point out here that by providing nonquota instead of preference status for children up to 21 years of age and husbands, of American citizens, some additional room is