Congress and Immigration Law Revision
Need to Regularize Entry of Hungarian Refugees
united states immigration policy, thrown into sharp focus by the Hungarian refugee problem, faces thoroughgoing public and legislative scrutiny in the months ahead. President Eisenhower asked Congress, Jan. 31, for emergency legislation to deal with the refugee question. The President also renewed last year's recommendations for revision of certain provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, which embodies the nation's basic policy on admission of aliens. Other more far-reaching changes in that law have been proposed by certain members of Congress.
Better known as the McCarran-Walter Act—after its coauthors, the late Sen. Pat McCarran (D-Nev.) and Rep. Francis E. Walter (D-Pa.)—the basic immigration law has been a subject of continuing controversy since Congress put-it on the statute books over President Truman's veto in June 1952. Criticism has centered on allegedly discriminatory provisions of the 300-page omnibus measure. In 1953 and 1955 President Eisenhower requested Congress to revise the law, and in 1956 he asked for several specific amendments without success. The 1956 Democratic platform called for prompt action “to eliminate unfair provisions,” while the Republican platform pledged support of “needed modifications” recommended by the President.
Defenders of the 1952 law as it stands are led by Rep. Walter, chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee handling immigration matters, and Sen. James O. Eastland (D-Miss.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Both are in position to exercise strong influence over the fate of administration bills and other measures to amend the act.