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I agree with Professor Hanlon and President Truman in this veto the bill. First of all on the first point that Professor handlin mentions that aliens Farland allowed to enter the country on a five year trial period but if they belong to an organization like the Communist Party they are their citizenship is revoked. As long as the Communist Party is not illegal in this country I don't think it's fair to revoke their citizenship in other words I think that although most of us agree the Communist Party is an organization working for the interest of another country. Nevertheless the congressman might arbitrarily pick. Something else not only the Communist Party and as long as it's not illegal for the rest of the citizens I don't see why it should be illegal for an immigrant particularly since as a case currently in the newspapers now he might do a thing like this without full knowledge
of what the meaning behind it might be. In other words to belong to a labor union or something like that he might mistakenly join the Communist Party and not be active in it and thereby have a citizenship citizenship revoked because of something he did not do against this country. Woman from Pullman Washington Mrs. Harold G sim Culver an immigrant from Canada soon to be naturalized had this to say about the trial period. I agree with you a few Congressmen water as regards to communist and United States. Immigrants desire to cross over to communist to Doctor I think or to try to immigrate to Russia. Our third comment first a headline on the trial period comes from Mr Lee Condon who's in show business in Los Angeles or any producer
will set the scene for us. This is RB Friedman's bigging to you from a dressing room at the new Poly Theater in Los Angeles California. Then to the dressing room. I one of the youngest and fastest rising stars of today's burlesque theater Lily. I can't agree with you Congressman Walter. It is my opinion that any foreigner who proved himself a worthy American that it isn't titled privileges granted any other American. I can't agree with your five year orientation period. Because that would mean that the immigrant immigrant went to second class citizen which would actually deprive him of being a first class citizen. And that isn't really quite fair because under our Constitution we're all equal. Our final comment on the trial period comes from a civil service employee of the city
of Los Angeles. Peter skipper. I do have a definite reaction in regard to the comments made by Professor Hannan about the five year probationary period. It seems to me that it is not unreasonable to have a five year probationary requirement. We do until service we have a six months probation or acquirement before employment is permanent. And. I think that citizenship in the United States is is far more important. And therefore this requirement is it is reasonable to me. Let me make two comments. The statements that I have just been talk back to us. First it ought to be clear that what is involved in this provision of the care and morter act is not simply membership in the
Communist Party. But membership in any one of our large number of organizations which have been declared subversive by the attorney general. Many of the members of these organizations. Have joined them without any real knowledge of their purposes and without any real information as to their objectives. Certainly without any intent of being disloyal to the United States and therefore Mrs. Culver's suggestion that they go back to Russia from which they didn't come saying hardly a fair one and hardly a kind of motives that drew
them here and that may also have drawn them into these organizations. In the second place they use of the term probationary. As applied to this five year period is very misleading. Alien already has a five year probationary period before he becomes a citizen he must apply first for first papers which declare his intentions of becoming a citizen which give a kind of notice of what he intends to do and then after a period of at least five years residence when his whole life is subject to examination he takes the critical step of becoming a citizen. Now in our law for all
years since we have been a republic in our Constitution there has never been a basis for separating one kind of citizen from another. And this second class citizenship for a period of five years in some cases of 10 years in. It is very dangerous step. If it is tolerated by the courts and declared constitutional which I personally doubt it will be a kind of precedent for future discriminations among our citizenship that many have very serious consequences. I know of no more central principle in American political life than that which has up to now declared all citizens and
terribly equal in their rights and privileges as well as in their duties and obligations. Now Professor Hanlon a related question to our immigration issue. It comes from Norman McKee of Madison Wisconsin. Mr. McKee works in educational radio out there and recently returned from Europe. He was recorded by Caro Schmidt of W.H. in Madison in the last four years I've had a little experience in Europe. And I've seen the. Specific problems. Under which. Almost 2 million refugees live. In Europe. And in. No legislation. Before our Congress. Do I find any provisions for taking care of any part of those. Refugees. Well if these people are stateless and it's true that they are they don't even have
travel documents to go from one country to another. And if as they do they are living in camps. With the bare minimum of subsistence just eking out an existence. I think that we here in the United States have a certain responsibility. In that we were partly responsible for them being refugees in the first place. And I think people all over the world ever responsibility for that. Condition as it exists today. And I would certainly like to ask what. Either of both of these men would like to see done over and above. Immigration legislation about the problem of the two million refugees which still exist who still exist in Europe today. I certainly wish Congressman malted men here to deal with this question since he played a rather active part in drawing up the first Displaced Persons Act which did bring several hundred thousand displaced persons to
the United States but which has now largely expired. Only problem of the refugees is an enormous one. It is one that cannot be solved by the action of any one country and will need careful international planning if it is to be dealt with with the humanitarian needs of the peoples involved in mind. The trouble is that our present laws prevent us from helping any such international solution. The question we cannot participate actively in international conferences. We cannot take a part in long term planning for refugees because of the national
origins provisions of our laws tie our hands when it comes to such assistance. Few Americans are aware of the fact for instance that Great Britain has absorbed more displaced persons than the United States in the next four or five years. The problem of these people will become more and more acute. Wherever they are they will be a disturbing element. Not settled not capable of supporting themselves and subject to all sorts of political and economic tensions. If we wish the restoration of a peaceful Europe which they countries of that continent are capable of supporting themselves and of maintaining stable political
orators we must together with countries like Canada Australia Latin American countries countries which are willing to receive immigrants. We must all together participate in some international plan and will solve this most tragic consequence of the long war. But we will not be able effectively to deal with this problem unless an amendment in the war removes the restrictions that now tie our hands. The president's commission in recommending use of the 1950 census and an increase of roughly 100000 immigrants each year suggested I believe that this increase should be used for the first three years to help displaced persons and people who have a scape from behind the Iron Curtain
who go along with this suggestion in a general way. Yes of course the details would have to be worked out to consider the various kinds of escapees of various kinds of this place persons as well as the super surplus population of other countries of Europe as well. But the approach seems to me a reasonable and a progressive one. Tied up to him and I'd like you to hear comment on the effects of the law on our relations with other nations. Let's hear from going to Herman partner in the firm of Evans and Reeve nurseries in West Los Angeles California. Mr. Herman came to America in 1036 and received his citizenship papers when serving in our armed forces during World War 2.
Here are you Mr. Herman's views on the international effects of the new immigration law. As we recorded him at his nurseries if we consider what the other countries in Europe and Asia and often late in Africa are going through if we consider the very high opinion. That most of the people over there still have of the United States and if we consider the team in this struggle that we have. Versus Russia convincing these people that are way off life is superior to the Russian way off life to their. Life and dictatorship. Then we should in all our laws both domestic and foreign
strive mainly not to disappoint the people who are looking towards United States. For. A haven in spirit only or those people who actually would like to come over here. There are people today under this new law who are applying for refuge over here. The people who want to come over here and play in their lives and those of their lifes or their children. To start All-New over here away from here and the bankruptcy and filth. Those people will be highly shocked and disappointed if they are told that. Oh yes the United States. Free and the gates open to
anyone who wants to come after us. So under the Statue of Liberty. But unfortunately they made a new law. And this new law. Says. That you can only come if you have certain skills. If you belong to. A group that is already represented in large quantities in this country and if you do not. Then you'll have to wait and perhaps you never will be able to come to this country. This is a very important point on which to close this discussion. As the last speaker has pointed out this war involves a bitter conflict between two ways of life the way of life which we see represented in the United States in the way of life that the totalitarian powers have
attempted to create in Europe. The question that millions of people throughout the world ask themselves Is this what is this American way of life and how far can it bring some kind of hope to the great problems that plague themselves face. We tell them about it through the movies over the radio and by the messages. Cultural and political ambassador was throughout the world in one sense. They can see it very clearly in terms of the material comforts the great industrial power of the country. And in terms
of have a practical achievements of American life. But as Wendell Willkie discovered in this trip around the world America has also led to these people a larger meaning. And it is their faith in this larger meaning that is our great hope for capturing their minds and their hearts in this struggle against a ruthless and unscrupulous enemy. This larger meaning for them is the meaning that comes from our history as a people drawn from all the nations of the world as a people who have created a wider range of opportunity and a wider kind of equality and liberty than has ever before been. In
western history certainly very people are very. Rest of the world want to know this is this kind of equality. Is this kind of Liberty. Is this kind of opportunity something that is suitable only for a limited part of the world only for those who happen to live in North America or or and in Western Europe. Are these privileges which go away to those who descend from certain national Stark's or are these hopes which can extend to all people everywhere they look for answers to that questions. In many of our actions in what we do in foreign affairs and what we do at home. And perhaps most of all in the
kinds of laws we make that might affect them in so far as we say they may or a may not be able actually to come here and to share an American life. It is for that reason that I feel that the kind of judgment we make about immigration policy has an enormous impact throughout the world by our present immigration law. We tell the people of the rest of the world that some of them are good enough to become Americans that some of them are not good enough to become Americans. We tell them that it is possible to rank the peoples of the world in order of their desirability. This was not the traditional American policy through most of our history. We
acted upon the assumption that oh man whatever there are regions whatever the place in which they were born whatever the culture they brought with them were capable of becoming Americans. And through most of our history we stood as a kind of light of liberty throughout the world. It is a restoration of that traditional American policy that we seek in the repeal of the national origins act and granted that repeal. I think it's possible that America may remain what it was when Thomas Jefferson first referred to it as the hope of all mankind. Thank you Professor Hammond for recording some of your view on our new immigration law so that people could hear you and talk
back to you. And that's how Parker Wheatley concluded this discussion of the McCarren Water Act. It's unfortunate that Congressman Walter was unable to be here to answer the people who talked back to him because I'm confident that he would have raised some additional considerations. In any case in reviewing this program I wonder if you noticed this I did that legislation of this kind cuts across almost every part of national life. Each person taking part in this discussion tied up the legislation with one or another feature of national policy. With our economy with our political and historical traditions with our foreign policy. Congressman Walker for example drew our attention to the
possible impact of immigration policy on our labor market under the new law and we will admit first those immigrants who possess special skills or highly specialized experience needed by our economy. We offer full protection to our labor force by eliminating the possibility of gutting our labor market. Lily Condon The girl in show business. I drew out the implications of the McCarren Walter act as she saw them for one of our basic historical traditions. I can't agree with your five year orientation period. Because that would mean that the immigrant immigrants were the second class citizens. And that isn't really quite fair because under our Constitution we're all equal. But most of all there was emphasis on the meaning of the Immigration Act. For our international policy
and for the struggle between the east and the West in a way this comes out most clearly if we contrast the remarks of several of the people who talked back Mr. Gordon the music teacher from Wisconsin was inclined to consider this purely a matter of domestic policy. But I feel that the what we must do is just straighten out our own affairs before we complicate them by bringing in a group of foreigners who may bring with them no additional problems that will further complicate our situation here. But later you will recall Mr. Herman from California regarded the act primarily almost exclusively as an instrument of international
policy. In a world conflict if we consider what the other countries in Europe and Asia and often late in Africa are going through and if we consider the tremendous struggle that we have versus Russia in convincing these people that our way of life is superior to the Russian will for life to their life and dictatorship then we should in all our laws both domestic and foreign strive mainly not to disappoint the people who are looking towards the United States. For. A haven in spirit only or those people who actually would like to come over here.
And so we see in closing that the serious discussion of an important legislative act leads us directly to consider every facet of the American economy and of American society. And I believe this is a value. In fact it might be said that this is an important part of our political education. The conclusion I draw from all this is that it's practically our political obligation as American citizens to debate the pros and cons both of pending legislation and of the NEC PTD legislation. And that is simply not enough for us to confine our political activities and our political interests to taking part once every four years in the great
debate that attend our presidential elections. That was Robert K. Merton professor of sociology at Columbia University with his analysis of the recorded discussion by Congressman Francis he Walter a Pennsylvania Professor Oscar handlin of Harvard and of the people talking back. Professor Merton is author of mass persuasion and is associate director of the Bureau of Applied Social Research at Columbia. He signs acting as clarifier. He's serving as a consultant for the people talkback series the series is produced and edited by Ralph telling me the recordings of people in different parts of the country were made possible through the cooperation of an AB member organizations and producers. RC Norris the state college of Washington Carl Schmidt W.H. a University of Wisconsin and Arthur B Friedman department of Theatre Arts University of California at Los Angeles also WNYC New York and WGBH Boston.
These programs are prepared and distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters and are made possible under a grant from the fund for adult education. An independent organization established by the Ford Foundation. This is the NASB Tate network.
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People talk back
Is our immigration law meeting our needs or prejudices?, part three
Producing Organization
National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-251fnx05).
Episode Description
This program, the third of three parts, features Professor Oscar Handlin and U.S. Representative F. E. Walter of Pennsylvania discussing what citizens have to say about Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952.
Series Description
This series presents a series of questions posed to politicians about current affairs.
Broadcast Date
Politics and Government
Public opinion--20th century.
Media type
Funder: Fund for Adult Education (U.S.)
Host: Merton, Robert King, 1910-2003
Producer: Tangley, Ralph
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Speaker: Wheatley, Parker, 1906-1999
Speaker: Handlin, Oscar, 1915-2011
Speaker: Walter, Francis E. (Francis Eugene), 1894-1963
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 53-13-1 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:26
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Chicago: “People talk back; Is our immigration law meeting our needs or prejudices?, part three,” 1953-03-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 16, 2024,
MLA: “People talk back; Is our immigration law meeting our needs or prejudices?, part three.” 1953-03-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 16, 2024. <>.
APA: People talk back; Is our immigration law meeting our needs or prejudices?, part three. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from