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

Chick Sexers and Congress

Authored by Alice Kiffer.

On May 21, 1979, at the 96th Congress (1979-1980), Norman Y. Mineta (D-CA) introduced H.R. 4161, which was then referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary[1]. On July 11, 1979, Assistant Counsel Ray D’Uva wrote to Chairwoman Elizabeth Holtzman (D-NY) to discuss a possible administrative, rather than legislative, resolution to the issue (see image).

The issue in question: immigrant chick sexers and the (in)ability of the American Chick Sexing Association (Amchick) to file with the Labor Department on behalf of the chick sexers. As D’Uva summarized in the memo, the poultry industry claimed that there were not enough qualified chick sexers in the U.S. The Labor Department did not dispute that claim or the perceived need for immigrant chick sexers, but it took the position that it could not accept applications filed by Amchick on the sexers’ behalf because the organization was not an “employer” for purposes of labor certification.

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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.

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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.

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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

Investigating Unfair Labor Practices in Haiti

Authored by Alana Coulum

Haiti 1

This is the front of the VHS Tape. The front cover features two people from the Institute interviewing a woman wearing a mask to protect her identity

For my academic service-learning project, I chose to volunteer at the Center for Migration Studies, which is an institute devoted to the advocacy of migrants around the world. It is an organization backed by an international group of Catholic ordained and lay people, and the institution holds an impressive amount of immigration information in their archives. I was tasked with cataloguing their audio/visual collection, which was small but disorganized. In the collection, there were many documentaries telling the stories of immigrant groups who came to the United States. The Center for Migration Studies in general has an enormous amount of resources about Italian-Americans and their experience. One VHS tape in particular caught my eye because of its title: “Mickey Mouse in Haiti”. This is a video exploiting the terrible working conditions of laborers in Haiti making apparel for The Walt Disney Company. This was part of a campaign sponsored by the Institute for Global Labour and Rights, to convince Disney to raise the minimum wage for factory workers in Haiti. The entire documentary is available here on the Institute’s official YouTube page.

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Refugees Magazine-April 1985

Authored by Christina Stankewicz

Front cover of Refugees Magazine - April 1985

Front cover of Refugees Magazine – April 1985

The object featured is an issue of Refugees Magazine from 1985 that was published by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR). In this issue the main focus is on the emergency situation in Africa that occurred in the 1980s due to famine. This magazine serves as a way of calling out to give aid to this part of the world and make people aware of the issues at hand.

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