PIN files, lot 56 D 324, “Minutes, 1947–52”

Minutes of the 62d Meeting of the Policy Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, Held in the Department of State, 2 p.m., May 27, 1952

PIN M–62
  • Present: George Gray, H, Acting Chairman
  • Robert C. Alexander, VD
  • Samuel Boggs, OIR/GE
  • Richard Friedman, PA
  • Arthur Z. Gardiner, NEA
  • Daniel Goott, E/L
  • John N. Hayes, IES
  • Marshall Jones, A/MS
  • H. H. Kelly, TRC
  • Richard J. Kerry, UNI
  • Kenneth P. Landon, PSA
  • Virginia Massey, IES
  • Peter Rutter, WE
  • George H. Steuart Jr., CON
  • Irwin Tobin, S/M
  • William S. Lambert, S/SS, Secretary
[Page 1609]

Review of the Department’s Position on the McCarran and Walter Omnibus Immigration and Nationality Bills

Action: The Committee agreed that a memorandum should be prepared for the Secretary to send to the President along the lines indicated in paragraph 13 below. (The secretary of PIN prepared a draft of this memorandum for consideration at the meeting of June 3. See PIN M–63.1)
The Committee agreed to meet on June 3, 1952 to review the draft comments prepared in the Visa Division on the Bureau of the Budget memorandum and staff paper.
Discussion: The Acting Chairman noted that the question before the Committee seemed to be divided into two parts: (a) the procedure to be followed in answering the President’s memorandum of May 13 and the Bureau of the Budget’s memorandum and staff paper attached thereto2 and (b) the position the Department should take on the Walter and McCarran bills. He asked for expressions of opinion from the members on both questions.
Mr. Kerry did not think that the reasons given in the Secretary’s memorandum to the President on April 143 were adequate to justify the Department’s support of these bills. He said that mention should be made of the provisions relating to the exclusion of members of totalitarian parties, and he believed that our reasons should be expressed in more broad terms.
Mr. Gardiner said that NEA had taken no position on these bills since that bureau has no special immigration problems. Mr. Landon said that FE feels that the Walter–McCarran bills are the lowest common denominators which can be obtained. He noted that FE is willing to have the Philippine quota cut down, as the bill provides, because other provisions outweigh this disadvantage. FE considers the bill a great improvement over existing legislation and probably the best that can be obtained from the Congress at this time.4
Mr. Rutter said that basically the April 14 memorandum (PIN D–30) accurately reflects the position of WE on this matter. He noted that he had received no complaints from his area on the [Page 1610] question of treatment of territorial peoples by these bills. In this connection Mr. Kerry placed on record the following resolution on the McCarran Bill adopted on April 22, 1952, by the U.S. Commissioners on the Caribbean Commission:

“The United States Commissioners on the Caribbean Commission desire to place on record with the Department of State their views that the McCarran and Walter Omnibus Immigration Bills are discriminatory against peoples of the Caribbean territories and that if enacted into law will have unfortunate repercussions in the form of ill-will toward the United States. The Commissioners question the wisdom of this action, but if this action should be taken, it strongly urges that it be internally determined by the Metropolitan Governments affected, as an internal problem.”

Mr. Lambert noted that Mr. Spalding of ARA had informed him that these bills do not affect Latin America, except for the definition of totalitarian organizations which has in the past created no problems.

Mr. Alexander thought that on the whole the bill was an improvement over existing law and that the balance was in favor of it especially from the foreign relations point of view. He noted in this connection that it would eliminate racial barriers and replace them with quota limitations—under which we have been operating for many years.
Mr. Tobin noted that PIN evidently considers the bill the best we can get under the circumstances and worth our support for the improvements which it would make. He suggested that the Department adhere to its main position as previously taken and advise the President against a veto if he asks for the Department’s advice. We could also suggest that, in any statement he makes when he signs the bill, he take cognizance of the defects which are in it. Mr. Tobin suggested that the Department furnish to the President the paper prepared in the Visa Division concerning particular items of the bill.5
Mr. Kerry suggested that PIN consider recommending to the President that he not veto the bill, because it is the best we can get at this time, but indicating that we oppose some of its provisions. He felt that we should agree with the Bureau of the Budget concerning some of the defects of the bill and point out some of the more important improvements which it would make but not engage in a debate on these questions. Mr. Kerry moved that it be recommended to the Secretary that in the event that the President asks his advice on the action which he should take with regard to the bill, the Secretary recommend that the bill not be vetoed, [Page 1611] pointing out that the major improvements which it would effect outweigh the considerable objections to it. Mr. Goott suggested that we should emphasize the fact that we are thinking of the foreign relations of the United States and that from this point of view the enactment of the bill would on the whole be beneficial.
Mr. Steuart raised the question of amendments now pending in the Conference Committee. Mr. Alexander noted that our previous comments had been made on the House bill before it was passed and that changes have since been made both in the House and Senate. He said that we do not know what the provisions of the bill will be when it emerges from the Conference Committee. He understood that it might take several days for the conferees to reach agreement.
The Acting Chairman asked whether the Budget Bureau paper had to be answered. Mr. Alexander thought it should be and he noted that the President may ask what we thought of it. Mr. Landon noted that the President, in his memorandum, did not specifically request the views of the Department on the paper. Mr. Gardiner suggested that we take no position on it until we are requested to do so. Mr. Tobin suggested sending an interim memorandum of acknowledgement from the Secretary to the President noting that in view of the differences between the two bills and the changes which may be made before the legislation is finally passed, the Department cannot yet comment on the bill for the purpose of recommending what action the President should take. He thought that the memorandum might also say that, if comments are nevertheless desired on the foreign relations questions which are raised by the Budget Bureau’s memorandum, we would be glad to prepare them. Mr. Steuart noted that some points made in the Budget Bureau’s memorandum are basic to the bill and he thought that if they were not reviewed at this time it might oblige the committee to undertake a detailed review on short notice. Mr. Goott thought that the Department should comment on the problems which the Bureau of the Budget had put before us.
Mr. Kerry called attention to the motion he had put before the Committee which implied that the Department make no comments now. He felt that the Secretary should give a recommendation only when one was requested and he did not consider it likely that the President would ask the Secretary for a recommendation until a bill is passed. He felt that the substance of the bill should not be discussed in any interim reply.
The Committee agreed that a memorandum of acknowledgement should be prepared for transmission by the Secretary to the President, and it was further agreed that the memorandum would note that the Department was reconsidering its position but, in [Page 1612] view of the complex changes which had been made and which were still under consideration, would not be able to make any recommendation concerning Presidential action until the final form the bill will take becomes known. The memorandum would, however, say that with regard to the provisions as they were reviewed by the Bureau of the Budget, the Department still believes that, on balance, their enactment would be more beneficial than harmful. It was generally agreed that no commitment would be made to transmit any further comments. Mr. Alexander cautioned that while it would probably be safe to say that from the foreign relations point of view we favor the bill as it passed both houses, we should be very careful in our judgement on what emerges from the Conference Committee.
Mr. Tobin thought that it would be best for PIN to be forehanded and to consolidate the Department’s views for the Secretary’s use and Mr. Alexander suggested that the draft comments which had been circulated be examined and revised if everyone was prepared to do so.
Mr. Kelly noted that TEC is particularly interested in the item concerning detention expenses and supported the comment made in paragraph 40 of PIN D–30/3.6 He hoped this comment would be included in the final draft.
  1. Minutes of June 3 meeting, designated PIN M–63, printed infra.
  2. The reference memorandum of May 13 was not found in Department of State files; for the Bureau of the Budget’s memorandum, with attached staff paper, see p. 1590.
  3. For text, see p. 1587.
  4. At the PIN meeting of June 4, 1952, the representative of the Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs, Hillis Lory, stated that should the immigration bill be vetoed, the situation in Japan would be very serious. He felt that the friendship of the 83 million people of Japan was at stake. (Minutes of June 4 meeting, designated PIN M–65, PIN files, lot 56 D 324, “PIN, Minutes, 1947–52”)
  5. Not printed, but see the memorandum by Humelsine, May 8, 1952, p. 1588.
  6. Not found in Department of State files.