John F. Kennedy Announces Plans for Improved Immigration Laws, June 11, 1963

Authored by Cheryl Fruchthandler

President Kennedy is surrounded by delegates of the Third Symposium of the American Committee on Italian Migration at a colonnade near the Rose Garden June 11, 1963, after announcing plans on improved immigration laws.

In June of 1963, a lifetime’s work of President John F. Kennedy finally came to fulfillment, as a new proposal for immigration would be presented in front of Congress. Before becoming president, Kennedy had persevered as a Massachusetts State Senator to widen the quota of immigrants allowed into the United States by replacing the old quota granting entry into America. Among Kennedy’s seven proposals introduced in 1959 to liberalize immigration was a unique proposal to make it easier for future immigrants to assimilate into the United States.1 Kennedy was an advocate for change in the restrictive immigrating policy of our nation. He sharply criticized the system and called upon Congress to allow additional immigrants in each year without regard to their race or nationality. Continue reading

The NCWC’s Fight for Just Migration in WWII

Authored by Maeve Dwyer

National Catholic Welfare Conference Bureau of Immigration Annual Report (1940-1941), from the Center for Migration Studies National Catholic Welfare Conference Collection

In 1920 the National Catholic Welfare Conference, previously the National Catholic Welfare Council, created a Bureau of Immigration to aid immigrants entering the United States. [1] The NCWC Annual Report (July 1, 1940- June 30, 1941) describes the efforts of the NCWC in assisting migrants who sought refuge in the United States during a time of increasing turbulence and uncertainty. Specifically, within the context of this annual report, the violence of World War II[2] was spreading throughout Europe. The NCWC took great pains to relieve the displaced, and those fleeing Nazi holdings or Axis power territories.

Continue reading

IT’S ALL IN A LETTER: Requesting visa approval for NBC reporter to travel to Hanoi in 1979

Authored by Whitney Karen Brown

Elizabeth Holtzman, letter to Vietnamese Ambassador to Thailand Hoang Bao Son, 28 Feb. 1979, box 35, Garner J. Cline Papers, Center for Migration Studies, (New York, NY.).

In February of 1979, Elizabeth Holtzman, Chairwoman for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and International Law wrote a letter to the Vietnamese Ambassador to Thailand, His Excellency Hoang Bao Son, regarding the quick approval for visas for James Upshaw, an NBC reporter, and his television crew, to travel with her to Hanoi.[1] The letter is part of a collection called the Garner J. Cline Papers, which currently resides in the Center for Migration Studies in New York.[2] The Garner J. Cline Papers consists of fifty-one boxes containing the personal papers of Garner J. Cline, who, at the time the letter was written, was Staff Director for the Committee on the Judiciary in the House of Representatives.[3] Continue reading

Garner J. Cline 1979 Letter: Soviet Jews in Rome

Authored by Marianne Brennan

Figure 1: Letter from Peter Regis to Garner J. Cline, in 1979, regarding the overflow of Soviet Jew refugees in Rome.

One of the hot topics in today’s political climate is the refugee crisis. On January 27, 2017, President Donald Trump issued an executive order banning refugees from Muslim countries from entering the US for 90 days, and suspended the US refugee programme for 120 days.[1] This contentious national issue is nothing new. In fact, the banning of refugees can be traced back through US history.

Continue reading

President Kennedy Press Conference on the Immigration and Nationality Act

President Kennedy Press Conference on the Immigration and Nationality Act

Authored by: Ariana Kaleta

President Kennedy Press Conference on the Immigration and Nationality Act June 11, 1963,                     Abby Rowe/White House
“Immigration policy should be generous; it should be fair; it should be flexible. With such a policy we  can turn to the world, and to our own past, with clean hands and a clear conscience.”
John F Kennedy, A Nation of Immigrants

Here we see a relaxed President Kennedy, laughing during a break at a press conference but what he was discussing were serious matters for the future face of America.  The President was compelled to write “A Nation of Immigrants” after repeatedly hearing the stories of immigrant’s rights groups, such as at this meeting with the American Committee on Italian Migration.

When Kennedy first came into office, Henry Cabot Lodge’s Immigration Act of 1924 had been diligently enforced under the firm hand of the Immigration Restriction League (a prominent lobbying group founded in 1884). [1]  For four decades, the Immigration Act of 1924 used quotas to prohibit all ‘non-nativist’ nationalities, in particular Jewish, Irish and Italians fleeing Europe. However, it also had punitive effects on the almost historically unrecognized Arabic and Asian immigrants.[2]  As the threat of communism and post war depression flooded across Europe and Asia, waves of immigrants risked their lives to journey to America, only to be turned away at Ellis Island, due to these racist and religious discriminatory laws. Continue reading

Behind the Numbers: Vietnamese Refugees at Dong Rek Camp

Authored by Marilyn Diliberti

Background Memorandum on Refugee Admissions Program FY 1986

First of four pages summarizing projected refugee admissions for the 1986 fiscal year

More than a decade after Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho shook hands at the Hotel Majestic in Paris and the last weary American troops returned home, Vietnam still held the world’s attention in 1985. The Vietnamese endured economic and social hardship in the years following the official end of the Vietnam War and, with these new challenges, America turned its focus from war to the resettlement of refugees. The number is small; only 1035 Vietnamese refugees from the Dong Rek Camp were accepted for resettlement into the United States in 1985.[1]  Behind the numbers, though, is history that has been all but forgotten, hidden by the lingering shadow of the Vietnam War. Continue reading

A Perspective on Italian Immigration in the 1960s

Authored by Pamela Griffin Hansen

 A watermarked image of the Maxime Maurice Caretti letter.

Letter from Maxime
Maurice Caretti

A letter dated June 15, 1963, from Maxime Maurice Caretti of Brooklyn to the House of Representatives Committee on Immigration, is archived in the Endres Collection held by the Center for Migration Studies (CMS). Arthur P. Endres was legal counsel to the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and International Law, from 1973 to 1989. (CMS Archivist 2015) The Endres Collection is comprised of thirteen linear feet of documents and records kept by Mr. Endres as part of his immigration-related legal work for the House of Representatives, ibid. Mr. Caretti’s letter is one of just a few pieces of original correspondence from private citizens found in the Endres Collection, ibid. Continue reading

The Ethiopian Committee on Immigration, Inc.: Social Justice in Action

Authored by Leslie Wybiral

The Ethiopian Committee on Immigration, Inc. 1983 Fundraising Letter

The Ethiopian Committee on Immigration, Inc. 1983 Fundraising Letter

The Ethiopian Committee on Immigration, Inc. (ECI) was formed in October, 1982. (Mekbib, 1983). ECI’s main objective is to find a suitable solution to immigration problems faced by Ethiopian citizens in the United States. (Mekbib, 1983). Its principal concern is therefore humanitarian. (Mekbib, 1983).

Continue reading

Don Edwards: Argument on the Misuse of Criminal Records, 1972

Authored by Diana Carillo

Chairman Don Edwards, Subcommittee No. 4 on the Judiciary opening statement on the misuse of criminal records.

Chairman Don Edwards, Subcommittee No. 4 on the Judiciary opening statement on the misuse of criminal records.


H.R. 13315 92nd congress, is a bill of the United States Code to provide for the dissemination and use of criminal arrest records in a manner that insures their security and privacy. On March 16th, 22nd, 23rd and April 23rd and 26th, 1972, security and privacy of criminal arrest record hearings were made before Subcommittee No.4 of the Committee of the Judiciary House of Representatives.  Committees of the Judiciary are often referred to as the lawyers of the House of Representatives, due to “its jurisdiction over matters relating to the administration of justice in federal courts, administrative bodies, and law enforcement agencies” (Goodlatte). This document provides the opening statement of chairman Don Edwards of California and his belief of the misuse of criminal records.

Don Edwards

Don Edwards was a Democrat representative from California, born in San Jose, Santa Clara Country, California on January 6, 1915. Don attended law school at Stanford University Law School. In 1940 Edwards became a special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). He was elected as a Democrat to the 88th from the 10th Congressional District and to the fifteen succeeding congresses in 1963 and served until 1995. Edwards was also the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights for 23 years. This court case was one of many that Edwards had worked hard on to bring to light the misuse of criminal records, and how the misuse affects the future lives of people who were convicted.

The Artifact

In Edwards’ opening statement, he gives examples as to how the lives of those who were convicted and released are impacted by the misuse of criminal records. He states, “A recent survey, for example, has shown that 75% of the employment agencies in New York City refuse to recommend an individual with an arrest record regardless whether it was followed by conviction.” This statement proves how for those who were arrested and not even convicted have trouble getting job recommendations because their record is available for employers to look at. Even today with advanced technology and the World Wide Web, anyone can view someone’s criminal record. If a normal patron wanted to look up someone’s criminal record they can easily access the information on All a person has to do is type in the name of who they are looking up and the state they reside in and they have the information right in front of them.

In this court hearing, Edwards states, “we intend to take a hard look at the arrest record problem and come up with a method of protecting individuals’ privacy while at the same time recognizing and safeguarding the objectives and needs of law enforcement officials.” Doing further research on individuals’ rights during an arrest, the fourth amendment seems to appear a lot. The fourth amendment of the U.S. Constitution “protects personal privacy, and every citizen’s right to be free from unreasonable government intrusion into their persons, homes, businesses, and property” (2014). A person who is convicted of a felony has rights and the forth amendment ensures that, and the use of these conviction records should only be in the hands of law enforcement and nothing more. They have a right to their privacy, and this amendment should be “method” enough to protect those individual rights.


Edwards, William Donlon, “Biographical Information,” Retrieved March 20, 2015, from

“Security and Privacy of Criminal Arrest Records, Hearings Before Subcommittee No. 4 … , 92-2, on H.R. 13315, March 16, 22, 23; April 13 and 26, 1972,” 1972. Retrieved March 21, 2015, from

Goodlatte, B., “About the Committee,” Retrieved March 21, 2015, from

“Instant Checkmate – The Internet’s #1 Source for Background Checks,”Retrieved March 21, 2015, from

” ‘Search and Seizure’ and the Fourth Amendment,” Retrieved March 21, 2015, from