Distinguished friends in the Congress, Father Cogo, ladies and gentlemen:
It was nearly 3 years ago, on one of the proudest days of my Presidency, that I stood at the foot of the Statute of Liberty and signed into the law of this land the Immigration Act of 1965.
Today that act takes full force. The lamp of liberty has never shone brighter. The golden door to immigration has never stood wider.
Every American can be proud today because we have finally eliminated the cruel and unjust national origins system from the immigration policy of the United States. We have righted a long-standing wrong.
So today, any man, anywhere in the world, can hope to begin a new life of freedom and a new life of greater opportunity in the United States. No longer will his color or his religion or his nationality be a barrier to him. The only preferences will be for those who already have relatives here, those who have exceptional abilities in the arts and sciences, and those who possess skills that our own America needs now.
No longer will only three nations supply 70 percent of America's immigrants. No longer will an arbitrary quota system divide children from their parents, and separate brother from brother. No longer will the people of one nation be less welcome here than the people of another nation.
This landmark act will work to enrich the heart of America--the people themselves. All who, over the years, have dreamed and labored for its achievement can take great satisfaction today.
No group has worked harder or has worked with more dedication than the American Committee on Italian Migration. I accept the recognition that you offer me today, and I will treasure it forever.
I shall take these ships with me when I leave here and they will be on display for all of my friends to see and to remember.
It will remind me always that together we have helped to preserve the American dream--and more than that--we have opened its promise equally to all men everywhere.
Thank you very much.