THIS EMERGENCY immigration legislation is, at once, a significant humanitarian act and an important contribution toward greater understanding and cooperation among the free nations of the world.
In enacting this legislation, we are giving a new chance in life to 214,000 fellow humans. This action demonstrates again America's traditional concern for the homeless, the persecuted and the less fortunate of other lands. It is a dramatic contrast to the tragic events taking place in East Germany and in other captive nations.
This legislation also offers encouragement to the other friendly nations which are today affording asylum to refugees and escapees. It is my hope that, in our action, by our direct participation with them in this great humanitarian work, we are giving them cause to continue their efforts with renewed enthusiasm.
The enactment of this legislation provides abundant proof of the progress that teamwork between the legislative and executive branches of the Government can achieve. It is also a stirring example of bipartisan statesmanship.
The leaders of the great religious faiths who are here today to witness the signing of this bill have, in years past, made notable contributions to similar programs. I am sure that their continued activity and enthusiasm will be major factors in ensuring the success of this program.
I am delighted to sign this bill and, in so doing, to welcome the 214,000 refugees who will soon come to our shores. They--as I said in last night's Report to the Nation--are men and women of the same character and integrity as our ancestors who, generation upon generation, have come to America to find peace and work, to build for themselves new homes in freedom.