What Was the 1952 McCarran-Walter Immigration Act?
General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), in a section entitled entitled "Immigration and Nationality Act," from its website (accessed Apr. 23, 2007), explained:
"The Immigration and Nationality Act, or INA, was created in 1952. Before the INA, a variety of statutes governed immigration law but were not organized in one location. The McCarran-Walter bill of 1952, Public Law No. 82-414, collected and codified many existing provisions and reorganized the structure of immigration law. The Act has been amended many times over the years, but is still the basic body of immigration law. The INA is divided into titles, chapters, and sections. Although it stands alone as a body of law, the Act is also contained in the United States Code (U.S.C.)."
Marion T. Bennett, JD, Senior Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, in a Sep. 1966 Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science essay entitled "The Immigration and Nationality (McCarran-Walter) Act of 1952, as Amended to 1965," offered the following:
"The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 was the product of the most extensive Congressional study of the subject in the nation's history. The Act codified and brought together for the first time all the nation's laws on immigration and naturalization. It continued and enlarged upon qualitative restrictions; revised but continued the national origins quota system of immigrant selection in effect since 1929; eliminated race and sex as a bar to immigration; Western Hemisphere immigration was continued quota-free; quota preferences were established for relatives and skilled aliens; security provisions against criminals and subversives were strengthened; and due process was safeguarded. The measure was passed over President Truman's veto. The Act was continuously amended in successive years to increase immigration and to accommodate refugees and excluded or restricted classes. The amendments, together with the Act's nonquota loopholes and permissive administrative exceptions, effectively nullified the national-origins quota system, so that two out of every three immigrants became nonquota entrants. The bulk of immigration under the Act was not from the northern and western European areas favored by the national origins formula. This circumstance accelerated demands for its abolition."
Otis L. Graham Jr., PhD, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in a 2006 book entitled Unguarded Gates, A History of America's Immigration Crisis, offered the following:
"The McCarran-Walter bill retained the same totals as the 1924 law and affirmed the national-origins quota system... it continued an easing of the bars against Asians that had started during the war [Congress repealed the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act in 1943]. McCarran-Walter went further, allowing immigration-usually at a minimal level of -100- from twenty-one countries or areas in what had once been called the 'Asian Barred Zone.' With these small quotas for formerly excluded Asian nationalities, racial discrimination in immigration policy was ended, advocates claimed... The proposed reform bill still favored applicants from northwestern Europe but excluded no race or people entirely. McCarran, like much of the country worried about Soviet espionage, saw to it that the legislation established a five-year registration system for aliens and strenghtened deportation procedures... The McCarran-Walter legislation, reaffirming while modestly reforming the system of 1920s, passed overwhelmingly...
It was vetoed by President Truman [due to] ...the newer Cold War interest of the executive branch in the use of opening American borders as an off-budget way of making international friends and embarrassing countries with walls around them. The veto was overridden. Yet the wording and tone of Truman's objections indicated that immigration politics was slowly taking on a new alignment..."
C. N. Le, PhD, Director of the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Massachusetts, in an Apr. 12, 2007 Asian-Nation.org article entitled "The 1965 Immigration Act," offered the following:
"The 1952 McCarran-Walter Immigration and Nationality Act altered several aspects of the National Origins provisions and resulted in ending the absolute exclusion of immigrants from Asia, but still retained tight controls on the numbers of arrivals allowed per year. President Truman actually vetoed the McCarran-Walter Act and argued for more liberalized provisions that would effectively end the restrictive quota system in the existing National Origins framework, but Congress overrode his veto and the 1952 Act was implemented. Later, President Eisenhower largely embraced Truman's positions and also attempted to liberalize the U.S.'s immigration laws, without success. However, by the time President Kennedy entered office in 1961, the stage was set for meaningful change."