President Truman's "Special Message to the Congress on Aid for Refugees and Displaced Persons March 24, 1952," must be understood as a political document in opposition to the pending Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, a.k.a. McCarran-Walter Act, which Congress would pass over his stinging veto a little over a month later.
In early September 1952, just as the presidential election was heating up, Truman established, by executive order, a special Commission on Immigration and Naturalization composed of former federal officials and representatives of VOLAGS.
Its report, Whom We Shall Welcome, published as the Truman
administration was ending, was never formally considered by
Congress. Yet Whom We Shall Welcome did become a liberal icon. The Truman commission's report provided
a national agenda, some of which was adopted piecemeal during the Eisenhower administration. It was largely realized in
1965, with a final element accepted in 1980 when Congress
recognized the right of asylum.
Roger Daniels, Charles Phelps Taft Professor Emeritus of History
University of Cincinnati
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