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Dear Editor:
I'm glad you will be running the Presidential Papers Historical Series. There's a tendency by the anti-immigrant folks at there to assume that somehow things are different now and their nativism is somehow different than what existed in the past. This first piece is interesting. Almost all the visa slots went to Germany, England and Ireland. The 1924 Act was largely intended to end Jewish and Italian immigration and the quotas from Eastern and Southern Europe were cut down to ensure this. I doubt Hoover and friends knew that the law would be the tool that kept Jews fleeing Hitler from entering the country. One of the most shameful periods in Congress' history was the rejection of a law in the 1930s that would have allowed a few thousand Jewish children to come to the US to escape the gas chambers. The anti-immigrant sentiment in Congress that led to passage of the 1924 Act was still so strong that even this modest measure was rejected. Doubt the Tancredos and Lamar Smiths of the world would vote differently today.

Greg Siskind



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