Congress passed an Immigration Reform Bill yesterday that eliminated the 51-year-old National Origins Quota System and imposed, for the first time, quotas on countries in the Western Hemisphere.
President Johnson promptly announced that he would sign the bill into law in front of the Statue of Liberty on Sunday.
The new bill was delayed in Congress earlier this session when the House narrowly defeated an amendment to extend quotas to Latin America and Canada. In the Senate, however, Minority Leader Everett Dirksen (R-III.) cited the four told increase in Latin American immigration into the U.S. over the last ten years, and convinced his colleagues to ratify the hemisphere quota system.
With the Congress divided, the bill was sent to a Senate-House conference for a final decision last Wednesday, before being brought back to Congress for a vote again yesterday.
The compromise bill, which was passed by a vote of 320 to 69 in the House and an oral acceptance in the Senate, provides an over-all quota of 170,000 immigrants annually from countries outside the Western Hemisphere. No more than 20,000 a year may come from any one country.
Under the terms of the bill, a 15 member commission will be established to study the immigration trends in this hemisphere and submit recommendations for a numerical limit before the bill goes into effect on July 1, 1968.
The Reform Bill, which was one of President Johnson's major legislative objectives, wipes out some of the obvious inadequacies of the National Origins System enacted in 1924. The present quota system allows only 158,561 immigrants annually with a 70 per cent allotment going to Britain, Ireland, and Germany.
Commenting on the hemisphere quota, Sen. Jacob K. Javits (Rep. N.Y.) said that the limit would disturb "the unique relationship that exists among the nations of the new world...I think this limitation will contribute to the impairment of better hemispheric relations in which we have been so intensely interested."