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Statement by the President Upon Issuing Order Establishing a Commission on Immigration and Naturalization: Presidential Paper Historical Series

by President Harry S Truman: 1945-1953

Statement by the President Upon Issuing Order Establishing a Commission on Immigration and Naturalization
September 4, 1952

I HAVE TODAY established a special Commission on Immigration and Naturalization, to study and evaluate the immigration and naturalization policies of the United States.

Our immigration and naturalization policies are of major importance to our own security and to the defense of the free world. Immediately after the war ended, we recognized the plight of the displaced persons; we acted to cooperate with other nations and to admit a share of these victims of war and tyranny into our own country. The displaced persons program has now been successfully concluded, but the free world faces equally grave and equally heart-rending problems in the continual stream of refugees and escapees from the Iron Curtain countries into Western Europe. These people add to the pressures of overpopulation in certain countries. Overseas migration from Europe has been dammed up by years of war and international economic disorder. While we have joined with other nations to meet such problems as these, our own immigration laws based on conditions and assumptions that have long ceased to exist, present serious obstacles in reaching a satisfactory solution.

Humanitarian considerations, as well as the national interest, require that we reassess our immigration policies in the light of these facts. The United States must remain true to its great traditions and have an immigration policy that strengthens our Nation at home and furthers our world leadership.

The 82d Congress devoted much time and effort to this problem, but the bill which it passed was so defective in many important provisions that I could not give it my approval. In my veto message, I expressed the hope that the Congress would agree to a careful reexamination of the entire matter. I suggested that the Congress create a representative commission of outstanding Americans to make a study of the basic assumptions of our immigration policy, the quota system and all that goes into it, the effect of our immigration and nationality laws, and the ways in which they can be brought into line with our national ideals and our foreign policy. The Congress did not act upon these suggestions.

I do not believe that the matter should remain where the Congress left it. The problems of immigration policy grow more pressing, and the inequities fostered by the new law require careful examination. I am, therefore, appointing this Commission in the belief that its recommendations will enable the next Congress to consider the subject promptly and intelligently. This Commission will have the benefit of much information already drawn together in the field of immigration, including that developed by the committees of Congress in their long study of the problem. It should, therefore, be in a position to complete its study before the reconvening of the next Congress.

            I have directed the Commission to give particular consideration to:

(a) The requirements and administration of our immigration laws with respect to the admission, naturalization, and denaturalization of aliens, and their exclusion and deportation;

(b) The admission of immigrants into this country in the light of our present and prospective economic and social conditions and of other pertinent considerations; and

(c) The effect of our immigration laws, and their administration, including the national origin quota system, on the conduct of the foreign policies of the United States, and the need for authority to meet emergency conditions such as the present overpopulation of parts of Western Europe and the serious refugee and escapee problems in such areas.

The members of the Commission are as follows:

            Philip B. Perlman of Maryland, Chairman (formerly, Solicitor General of the United States, City Solicitor of Baltimore, secretary of the State of Maryland, assistant attorney general of Maryland).

            Earl G. Harrison of Pennsylvania, Vice Chairman ( attorney, formerly U.S. Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization-and formerly dean of the Law School of the University of Pennsylvania).

            Msgr. John O'Grady of Washington, D.C. (secretary, National Conference of Catholic Charities).

            Rev. Thaddeus F. Gullixson of Minnesota (president, Lutheran Theological Seminary of St. Paul, Minn., chairman, Minnesota State Displaced Persons Commission).

            Clarence E. Pickett of Pennsylvania (honorary secretary, American Friends Service Committee).

            Adrian S. Fisher of Tennessee (Legal Adviser to State Department, formerly General Counsel of Atomic Energy Commission and Solicitor of the Department of Commerce).

            Thomas G. Finucane of Maryland (Chairman, Board of Immigration Appeals, Department of Justice).

NOTE: The Commission was established in the Executive Office of the President by Executive Order 10392 "Establishing the President's Commission on Immigration and Naturalization" (3 CFR, 1949-
1953 Comp., p. 896).

            For the President's statement upon receiving the Commission's report, see Item 364.

Reprinted with permission from John Wolley and Gerhard Peters of the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara at the American Presidency Project.

About The Author

This is part of the presidential paper historical series featuring past presidential public papers related to immigration law. The papers of our past Presidents show the impact of immigration law in American history. We thank the efforts of the American Presidency Project who have gathered these important archival documents.

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