tv Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 CSPAN August 6, 2016 5:15pm-6:01pm EDT
>> american history tv. for professor gabriel chin discusses whether the initial intent of the 1965 immigration act was to diversify america or was an intended consequence. argues despite much racial tension, lawmakers at the time and much more diverse america was inevitable. the lecture part of a two-day symposium hosted by the u.s. capital historical society on the history of immigration. this is about 40. is gabriel speaker chin, who is a professor of law at the university of california, davis. jack specializes in both criminal law, and as this conference on phones, we realize
there's a great and sound connection between criminal law and immigration law. i don't know how much he will touch on that today. he has an undergraduate degree at wesleyan and at the university of michigan. he then went on to do advanced law degree at yale. paraphrase president kennedy in this context, having gone a michigan education, he then went on to get a yell to great so that he could be -- w yale degree so a that he could be a success in life. jack has just recently co-edited a book, or cowritten on the 1965 immigration act, which is what he will talk about. i will say anymore because he can tell us all about it.
thank you for the introduction and for organizing the conference. thanks to the capital historical society. under the talk about the immigration and nationality amendments of 1965. i have two prepositions. one controversial and the other on controversial. fall begin with the un controversial one, and that these amendments enacted in 1955 for the most powerful since reconstruction. by it and that the civil rights act of 1964 was important. more than 50 years after its passage, the situation of african-americans and other minorities with respect to employment, education, wealth, thath, still is far from
enjoyed by whites. the voting rights act of 1955 revolutionary and automatically 1965 revolutionary and dramatically changed the situation. some have been held unconstitutional by the u.s. supreme court others at grave risk. ,50 years after the passage of the voting rights act, voter suppression in the states is alive and well. these laws were landmarks. but they worked only in part. by contrast the immigration and nationality amendments of 1965 were completely successful. they were designed to bring race neutrality to the immigration stream. and they did so. 1965, to super majority
of the immigrant stream was caucasians from europe. a super majority of the immigrant stream has been asian, latino, african americans, and other non-whites from around the world. one other contributor to the passage of the 1965 act was john f. kennedy's posthumously published book "a nation of immigrants." the nation he imagined a netbook where immigrants were admitted not based on race, but on individual characteristics such as connections to people in the skills valuedor by the u.s. economy is on the verge of coming to pass. hawaii, new jersey,
and new mexico are majority minority jurisdictions. and thanks to the 1965 act, it is expected to be a majority minority white -- iss clear that the 1965 act passed entrenched racism as the voting rights act did. it is evident from the legislative history that racial consideration were paramount. in supporting the act, senator miller of california explicitly appealed to notions of racial inferiority. he said "it's not numbers that are needed, quality is more
important than quantity. one complete men, the complete product of high civilization is worth more than hundreds of barbarians. how can we justify the complete-- i believe one such men as newton or franklin glorifies the crater of the world and benefits mankind than all the chinese will have lived to struggle and i. -- and die." opponents of chinese exclusion quoted the famous line from the declaration of independence, that all men are created equal with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. supporters of chinese exclusion had a powerful response to this argument. senator grover pointed out that "our conduct towards the aborigines of these country whom the founders discovered in
lawful occupancy must be construed as fixing a limit to the meaning of their public declaration upon the rights of man. they declare that all men are created equal and were endowed by their creator with inalienable life, they undoubtedly meant all men like themselves, and like men are joined in the bonds of civil society. when they dedicated this country to be an assignment for the oppressed of all nations, they undoubtedly meant all nations once they came, characters and conditions similar to their own. there was an exquisite connection -- explicit connection in this period. 1882,r jones argued in does anybody pretend to tell me this is a blessing to this country that african-americans are here? snowfall of ours that are here, and no fault of theirs. is the fault of the past generation, but their presence is a great misfortune to us
today, and the adjustment of the relations between the two races socially and politically is no nearer a settlement now than it was the day center was fired upon. what encouragement we find with our dealings of the negro race to induce us to permit another race struggle in our midst?" congress found these arguments persuasive. by the end of the 19th century, the pattern of racist practices became fully developed. "the orientals were to be totally excluded, the indians to be confined to reservations as permanent wards of the nation." the white america policy was deep. and act of 1790 was signed by washington as president, john adams is president of the senate, and thomas jefferson. -- itted the privilege of
limited the privilege of nationalization to freeway persons, which remains in effect until 1962. appeared initigant the supreme court with a nonwhite litigant with a pretty good argument, that as the law was drafted, there was a loophole that may be allowed him to naturalize. category of people of color could become citizens. of the court rejected that based on the strong policy of racial restriction. the unanimous court called the white naturalization policy enforced from the beginning of the government, part of our history, molded into the structure of our national policy by a century of a ministry to ask and judicial decisions. as the questions of interpreting congress intent, the court was right." of chinese exclusion
began in 1882 was extended to other racial groups over time. africans, jewish, catholic immigrants were discouraged. not explicitly by race or religion, but by gerrymandering designed in the national origins quota system. therefore, by 1955, it can be said that the body of law the 1965 immigration act ripped out by the roots was an integral part of u.s. racial policy. that's the uncontroversial claim, at least in my mind. act was anmigration amazingly successful civil rights law. here is the controversial claim. many very thoughtful scholars and commentators have looked at
the development of the 1965 law, and concluded that the diversification of the immigrant stream was an unintended consequence. it was completely accidental. it was unwelcome. the law was not intended to make any substantive change in the white demographic of the immigrant stream. "the 1965 act abolished the origins quotas, but lawmakers required a desire to facilitate from europe, and discourage immigration from asia, and latin america and africa." although a racial hierarchy was not exquisitely written a lot, it remains deeply embedded into the 1965 act. another concluded that even liberals in congress believed that opening asiatic immigration and principal would not mean opening it in practice, at least not significantly.
"the immigration reform bill would produce a national organ system, but without the offensive quotas." revolutionary, and some of the most thoughtless acts of the great society." "if congress had fully understand the act consequences, it would not have passed." my controversial claim is that is is not the best view of the evidence that congress understood that when it passed the law in 1965, it was putting u.s. immigration policy on a genuinely race neutral basis, and the chips would fall where they may. i have several kinds of evidence for this. the first is votes in congress. with my colleague doug spencer at the university of
connecticut, i did analysis of the 1965 bill based on rollcall votes. we think we demonstrated in immigration act is a close cousin of the civil rights act and voting rights act. even though there was an election in 1964 between the civil rights act and other to ask, 196 representatives and 61 senators voted yes on all three bills. of the rollcall votes in the 89th congress, in 1925-1956, the one that matched most closely with the immigration and nationality act with respect to the individual votes for an against was the voting rights act. social scientists have developed tools to evaluate members of congress based on their right- left and racial ideology views, looking on voting records.
based on these measures, virtually the same ideological coalition supported and opposed all three measures. another important vote in congress was on the immigration act of 1990, which increased the number of visas available for family sponsored and employment-based immigration. the racially they were supplying effect of the 1965 act were known by the time the 1990 act was on the table. in 1990ugh congress new that increasing the number of visas would mean increasing the number of nonwhites in the immigrant stream, congress made that decision. there was a democratic majority in 1990, as in writing 55. i think it's plausible to claim the 89th congress was at least as civil rights oriented as the 101st congress.
therefore, the congress in 1965 would have been as non-troubled areas they were in 1990 about nonwhites in the immigrants stream. so i think there is good reason to think that the voting rights act and the civil rights act were genuinely antiracist bills. they were not modern civil rights bills as we would understand them today. the anti-gay animus is clear in those bills as it is in the 1965 immigration act, for example. but they were, they were antiracist, so this part of my argument suggests that being a close cousin of the voting rights act and civil rights act allows the inference that the immigration act was not hypocritical. the second piece of evidence
that i offer to you is that in 1965, for the first time in immigration context, antiracism, race neutrality was an explicit rationale for the winning side in the debate. edward kennedy argued that the national origins quota system was contrary to our basic symbols -- basic principles as a nation. paul krebs said, we must learn to judge each individual by his own worth and value he can bring to our nation. these types of arguments had been almost completely absent from previous debates in congress over -- even when congress was liberalizing the laws slightly. the two major reforms before 1965 were in 1943, when 105 chinese were allowed to immigrate, and in 1952 when nationalization was made race-neutral and every country, including japan, was allowed a token number of visas.
but the 1943 and 1952 laws were explicitly more measures. they were pragmatic reforms. even in respect to that, one of the most amazing things to me about these laws is that they did not go far enough even to achieve their geopolitical goals. in 1943, for example, 105 chinese were allowed to immigrate, and someone said on the floor of congress, hey, indians are our allies, too. winning world war ii seems pretty important, so why don't we just let 100 indians in, also? and the answer was, we have an important policy of racial restriction, and we are not going to let indians in. so the move to let indians in failed, even to win world war ii. so in 1943, almost nobody in the majority, on the winning side, said anything unkind about racism in principle.
senator mccarran in 1952 said, for example, we have to be realistic and recognize that there are some indigestible blocs of people in the united states. in 1965, many members of congress argued that racism has no place in american law. in 1952, senator mccarran, i think accurately, said that a push for racial equality would be the kiss of death for the limited reforms that restrictionists in congress were willing to allow to go forward. so in 1965, we have explicit antiracist rationales articulated by the winning side. that is something new, and i think it is significant. the third point is that there was a lot of evidence at the time that people knew that demographic change was likely as a result of the law. i get this from legislative history and contemporary media
reports, that, that taking out racial restrictions, taking out racial gerrymandering would in fact lead to racial diversity. edward kennedy said the people who comprise the immigration, the type which this bill would give preference to, are relatively well educated and well-to-do and familiar with american ways. he knew there would be new immigration. media reports were also to the same effect. in a book from 1963 which just predates the serious debate on this law, former congressman and future appellate judge marion t bennett wrote a book called "american immigration policies," and when he discussed immigration reform, he said china and india would ultimately be the european successor to our immigration largess. in 1961, the indian census reported 431 million people in
that country. in 1962, president kennedy said there were 650 million people in communist china alone. the possibility that they might not take advantage of relaxed immigration restrictions is remote. in 1965, "u.s. news and world report" published an article called "a new mix for america's melting pot." the reported on rules by congress, showing the forecast of changes from many asian immigrants expected and said that restrictions against orientals and indians are wiped out. no one has estimated the number of chinese who will apply to enter the u.s., the magazine reported, but the potential is large. "the christian science monitor" said the new law would contribute to a multinational and multiracial united states. "the los angeles times" reported, what is ahead is an more diverse mix of populations, favoring the italian, spanish, and greek, becoming to the latin american, inviting the oriental and african. when we add to this the rapid rise of the native negro
population, we see at once what kennedy called the pluralistic society. even the exceptions often support this rule. in 1966, the american legion had come to the conclusion that they would not oppose the bill, and in a 1966 article in "the american legion" magazine, they explained why. they said there would not be any change in the demographics of the immigrant stream, but then they said that all of the articles in the lame-stream media, which suggests there is going to be dramatic alteration in the sources of immigration, are a bit of faking. congress understood the structure of this law had two main sources of immigration, family sponsored immigration and employment-based immigration,
people that had certain skills desired in the united states. those were the two main sources of visas for people who might want to come here. and the record was clear in congress that congress understood that nonwhites would take advantage of both of these sources. robert kennedy, for example, testified for the attorney general in favor of the bill, about the problems americans had in bringing in an immediate relative who was "italian or australian, japanese or -- spanish or portuguese, japanese or korean, indian or filipino." so white ethnics were certainly on the list, and i don't think there was any question that italians and eastern europeans were very, very important politically to get this bill on the radar screen and get it through, but people understood at the time that they would not be the only beneficiaries. as for employment-based immigration, there had been a 1962 law that offered special
incentives for engineers to come to the united states, and this was created as an exception to the quotas. and so asians and others could come under this law without respect to any sort of quota limitations. as one scholar wrote, because of this 1962 law, immigration of european engineers increased by 23%, but that of asians increased by 182%. this indicates that skilled asian immigration has a remarkably high elasticity in respect to a moderate liberalizing of the restrictions. the decisions on the 1962 were before congress before they made their decision. my idea is not that congress should have known what is obvious in retrospect, and that is once we reduce racial restrictions, or eliminate racial restrictions, then different people are going to come to the united states than came before. my argument is that congress
actually did know that racial diversification was going to be a consequence of their law. i don't mean to suggest that the people, the many people who disagree with my view, are just ignorant. there is some contrary evidence. and i will talk with you about it, but i don't think it is compelling. the most prominent piece of evidence that there would be no demographic change, at least with regard to asians, is a 1964 prediction by attorney general robert kennedy testifying in a committee, and as described by "fortune" magazine, attorney general robert kennedy said that 5000 asian immigrants might come the first year, after which immigration from that source would virtually disappear. and that is on accurate quote --
an accurate quote from robert kennedy in 1964. scores of media articles and academic books cite this testimony as evidence that asian immigration was expected to go down as a result of the 1965 act. and this is a complete misinterpretation of the technical issue that robert kennedy was testifying about. he was testifying about the interaction of two special rules. between 1924 and 1965, because of the monroe doctrine, western hemisphere immigration was numerically unlimited. as many people from the western hemisphere as wanted to come to the united states, to put it more starkly in connection with current immigration policy debate, as many mexicans as wanted to come to the united states could come to the united states with absolutely no numerical limitation. there were other kinds of
economic and health restrictions, but no numerical limitation of qualified immigrants. however, to prevent the immigration of asians, there was a special asian racial attribution rule that all people of asian racial ancestry, wherever born, wherever they were a citizen, were charged to the quota of their racial homeland. the way these rules worked together was that if we had a native citizen and resident of brazil who was of german ancestry, that person was treated as a brazilian, and like all other brazilians could come to the united states without numerical limitation before 1965. if we had a native citizen and resident of brazil who is of japanese ancestry, that person was treated as japanese and could come to the united states if and only if one of the 100 visas allocated to japan every year happened to be available.
robert kennedy was saying that elimination of this racial attribution rule would mean that some people of western hemisphere citizenship but asian racial ancestry would be able to take advantage of the special rule. and 5000 of them would come from the western hemisphere to the united states if the rule passed. he was not saying that worldwide asian immigration would be 5000 people a year, as many media sources have wrongly claimed. asian immigration in 1964 was over 21,000. it had averaged 15,000 per year in the 1950's. so to say that 5000 would come after the 1965 act came into effect has to be wrong. so the most dramatic piece of
evidence was that there was no change in the democratic stream turns out to be part of a complex piece of the law. the best evidence that members of the administration or congress thought that there would be little nonwhite immigration are public statements of three knowledgeable participants. emanuel cellar, mike masaoka, and dean rusk. emanuel cellar, a prime mover of the bill, very important in immigration for a century, said the following. "mr. chairman, claim has been made that the bill would bring in hordes of africans and asians. this is the answer to that false charge. persons from african and asian countries would continue to come in as before, but be treated like everyone else. with the discrimination due to place of birth, there would be shifts to countries other than northern and western europe.
immigrants from asia and africa will have to compete to get in, quantitatively and qualitatively, which itself will hold the numbers down. there will not be comparatively many asians were africans entering -- asians or africans entering this country. mr. chairman, since the people in africa and asia have relatively few relatives here, relatively few will immigrate here because they have few family ties to the united states. there is no danger of an influx of persons and countries in africa and asia." mike masaoka, the longtime japanese-american assistance league officer and longtime advocate for immigration reform, insisted that fears of a flood of immigration from the orient were groundless. because 74% of the visas were reserved for family reunification, he agreed with emmanuel seller that the small amount of asians already in the united states were likely to take advantage of them, with the result being, quote, the general
pattern that exists today would continue for many years to come. secretary of state dean rusk, involved in this bill for a long period of time, commented, any increase in the volume of immigration resulting from the inflow would be rather limited against the actual volume of asian immigration into the united states between 1953 and 1963. so what do we make of these? maybe these were evasions designed to get a bill passed. i am not from washington, d.c. many of you are. does anyone ever say anything less than the full truth when they're trying to get a bill passed? [laughter] >> is that legal? can they do that? so, that is a possibility. maybe these were honest predictions that turned out to be wrong without being essential assumptions without which the bill would not have passed. what i want to say is that in
the context -- i want to propose that in the context of the bill, in the context of the discussion, they were sincere claims, and they have proved to be accurate. what is it that constitutes an influx or a flood? mike masaoka argued that even of -- even if all the million people of asian descent from latin america came in at one time, they would still not equal the number of asiatics in this country, and the total number of asiatics in this country is less than 1/2 of 1%. so the doubling of a tiny number is still a tiny number. robert kennedy argued that an increase of 2% in the italian-american proportion of the total u.s. population over a course of years wouldn't constitute an alteration of the ethnic makeup of the country. i think, i think the evidence
that demographics was not a huge concern was suggested by the limited firewall that the bill did create. and that was the per country limitation. as edward kennedy explained, the bill will not inundate america with immigrants from any one country or area, or the most populated and economically deprived areas of asia or africa. no country can be given more than 10% of the annual quota. in the original 1965 bill and continuing to this day in the law are per-country limitations so that no one country, regardless of its size or regardless of its historical connections to the united states, can take more than a certain share of the visas that are available each year. 10% was the original structure. 10% in the law. no country can have more than 10%. but that doesn't preclude, for example, mexico, china, india, the philippines, and cuba from taking 50%.
and so, it is a very, very small restriction, a very, very small restriction compared to what existed under the prior policy. and so, in these terms, a million in one day is not a huge influx. a 2% increase over a decade is not a huge influx, at least with respect to asian americans, asian immigrants. there still has not been a huge influx. compared to the proportion, compared to the population of asia as a proportion of world population, the percentage of asians in the immigrant stream is small. 50% of the world population is asian, 5% of the u.s. population is asian. it is still a small group, and it is still the case that the
united states is a long way from becoming a distinctively asian country. so, that is the basic background of my argument, that the diversification of the immigrant stream was not an unintended consequence of congress in 1965, it was one that they understood might happen and they did not stand in the way of. there are a number of ways in which the 1965 act was imperfect. there are a number of ways in which people with legitimate claims to consideration by the united states were not accounted for, but i'm going to hold those for the moment and ask if anyone has any questions. >> what was lbj's role in the
passage of the 1965 act in comparison to his vigorous role in the civil rights act, in the voting rights act? gabriel chin: i think he he supported it, he signed it in a ceremony at liberty island in the shadow of the statue of liberty in october of 1965. i do think this was an act that was more action. it was happening more in congress than it was dictated by the administration. >> a strategic question. i agree with the thrust of your talk, but did anyone ever say at the time, if you do not see this law as changing anything in reality, then why is it so important to pass it?
prof. chin: it is completely clear that there were geopolitical considerations, as well. 1965, of course, is a war year , as 1952 and 1943 were, and there was a lot of discussion about how the remnants of the national origins quota system, particularly as they applied to the third world, were used by communist propagandists. and so, it is completely clear that geopolitics was a driver of the bill, as well as domestic politics, and as principles of fairness and equality. but, but, there were lots of people who said, as scare tactics, that there could be hundreds of millions of chinese immigrants to the united states. one person said, i can't
remember the exact date, but one witness testified that by 2000, there might be 479 million chinese in the united states. and in 1952, these sort of wild fears of racial invasion, 1943, 1882, these yellow peril arguments and foreign invasion arguments worked to structure some kind of restriction, some kind of quota. by 1955, they had failed do so. >> the question was, surely someone might have asked the proponents, you are pushing -- usually when you get new legislation the people are happy about, the proponents talk about all of the wonderful things that will result. so here you have a paradox of this major legislation that its proponents say, often with a straight face, really won't change anything substantially.
prof. chin: well, even emanuel cellar and dean rusk and mike masaoka, they didn't say it is not going to change anything. they said in the context of a situation that is already changing, that the 1952 laws and efforts at restriction had come undone with individual laws and special laws and waivers and exceptions, and so, the asian immigration, for example, was 10 times the quota. the quota was 2000 a year, and there was never a year when it was anything close to that between 1952 and 1965. and 1965. 1962 and so, what they said was, given that the efforts at restriction imagined by the 1952 law have already failed, the changes that follow on after that are not going to be necessarily that much more significant. nobody was saying it would stay
just the same exactly as it is. >> you mentioned that immigration from the western hemisphere was not limited after 1924, and you also said that only white people could apply for naturalization until 1952. so were latinos and mexicans and other latins allowed to apply for naturalization before 1952? gabriel chin: yes. yes. there has been some discussion at this conference of the implications of the 1790 naturalization act, and naturalization with the respect to white persons, and what do we do with armenians, and what do we do with arabs, what do we do with japanese, mexicans, and filipinos? mexicans had a tradition of being allowed to naturalize from the peace treaty after the mexican-american war.
and they were, they were treated as white. and then, again, lots of details have changed over time. but in 1924, the naturalization act was extended to persons of races indigenous to the western hemisphere. so mexicans have always been allowed to naturalize. at least in the reported cases, they have been allowed to naturalize. >> engineers were privileged. did we need engineers, or was somebody in the house of representatives in need -- we need engineers, i think. prof. chin: yes, yes. well, at one point, there was a special bill to allow to give
special immigration preferences to sheepherders. oddly enough, senator mccarron of nevada was a sheep farmer, but i am sure that was a total coincidence. [laughter] chin: but the 1962 law was, you know, i think, response demands in the economy, and we wanted people to immigrate that were going to make economic contributions the country. >> again, one of the marks of a great paper is that i have to cut off -- [applause] >> cut off the questioning and answering. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] announcer: this weekend, the life and legacy of alexander hamilton. >> all states were fighting
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