Sunday, September 20, 2015


JFK+50:  Volume 5, No. 1719


Rome, Italy (JFK+50) Sixty years ago today, September 20, 1955, Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts meeting here in Rome with officials of the government of Italy,   discussed the need for liberalizing quotas and procedures of admittance to the USA for Italian immigrants.

In a message to Congress dated July 23, 1963, President Kennedy wrote about the nation's immigration policy that had been in place for decades...

"It neither satisfies a national need nor accomplishes an international purpose.  Such a system is an anachronism for it discriminates among applicants for admission...on the basis of birth."

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, under that system 70% of all immigrants came from the United Kingdom, Ireland and Germany while potential immigrants from other countries were on a long waiting list.

All that changed with passage of the Hart-Celler Immigration Act of 1965*. Since its passage, 18 million legal immigrants have poured into the United States." 

*Hart-Cellar Immigration Act of 1963 abolished the National Origins Formula that had been in place since 1921.  The law was proposed by Representative Emanuel Cellar of NY and co-sponsored by Senator Philip Hart of MI.  Senator Edward M. Kennedy of MA promoted the legislation.  

The HC Act provided for a preference system based on skills and family relationships rather than country of origin.


"Three Decades of Mass Immigration:  Legacy of the 1965 Immigration Act," Center for Immigration Studies,

Statue of Liberty
Photo by Elcobbola