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Statement by the President on the Republican Position on Immigration: Presidential Paper Historical Series

by President Harry S Truman: 1945-1953

Statement by the President on the Republican Position on Immigration
October 20, 1952

CERTAIN Republican leaders have been deliberately distorting my statement of October 17 concerning the position of the Republican Party and the position of most of its representatives in Congress on our immigration laws. Perhaps what is needed now is a calm clarification of the situation.

Now, what does the record show; what precisely did I say last Friday? I repeat the exact words I used:

"Among those who voted for the McCarran bill and to override my veto, was the Republican candidate for Vice President.

"Among the other Republicans were Senators Jenner and McCarthy. Together with ex-Senator Revercomb, the champion of the anti-Catholic, anti-Jewish provisions of the original DP bill, these men have been embraced by the Republican candidate for President.

"The Republican candidate for the Presidency cannot escape responsibility for his endorsements. He has had an attack of moral blindness, for today, he is willing to accept the very practices that identified the so-called 'master race' although he took a leading part in liberating Europe from their domination."

I do not withdraw a word of that statement. But the Republicans and a few others whom they were able to persuade to help them, chose to distort the simple meaning of my words as a charge that the Republican presidential candidate is anti-Catholic and anti-Jewish. I said no such thing, and indeed meant no such thing; and any fair person who reads what in fact I did say, must be as shocked as I am by the absurdities in the press of the last few days.

Certainly, people remember that I have made clear that Senator McCarran, the principal sponsor of discriminatory immigration legislation, "is not my kind of Democrat." Contrast that with the Republican candidate's willingness and hearty endorsement of Senators Jenner, McCarthy, and Revercomb. The first two, along with Senator Nixon and most Republicans, voted to override any veto of the McCarran bill, which is recognized everywhere as discriminatory. Senator Revercomb, it will not be forgotten, championed the notorious anti-Catholic and anti-Jewish provisions of the original displaced persons bill. This is what I said, and these are the facts which nobody has yet denied.

What all of this furor adds up to is that the Republicans in their eagerness to get votes are trying to find in my statement of fact something that is not there. I cannot tolerate this. If the Republican candidate sees fit to endorse such well-known supporters of discriminatory legislation, if he is willing to campaign on a platform that is utterly silent on the subject of amending that legislation, and if he wants people to take seriously his belated acknowledgment, just the other day, that the McCarran Act needs radical amendments, he must then explain to 'the public whether he accepts the practices of the men he supports or whether, by some political disclaimer, he disassociates himself from their practices. The practices of those Senators--the practices of the big lie and of character assassination--are identified with the so-called "master race" theory and no amount of distortion can change that fact. I know that the Republican candidate for President is neither anti-Jewish nor anti-Catholic, but why does he give his endorsement to such men?

            That is what I condemned last Friday and this is what I condemn today.

Reprinted with permission from John Wolley and Gerhard Peters of the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara at the American Presidency Project.


About The Author

This is part of the presidential paper historical series featuring past presidential public papers related to immigration law. The papers of our past Presidents show the impact of immigration law in American history. We thank the efforts of the American Presidency Project who have gathered these important archival documents.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.


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