Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Letter to the Speaker Urging House Action on the Immigration Bill.

August 25, 1965

Dear Mr. Speaker:

As you suggested I write you, more fully and formally, the view I expressed in our conversations earlier yesterday and today.

There is no piece of legislation before the Congress that in terms of decency and equity is more demanding of passage than the Immigration bill. Four Presidents have urged this kind of legislation. Four decades have been witness to this kind of need. Countless Americans with ties of family and heritage reaching beyond the seas have cried out for this kind of action.

Our present restrictions say that Italians, Greeks, Spaniards, all the Southern European countries in particular, are not as desirable as others. What a shameful declaration.

By what distorted principle do we assert that Enrico Fermi, or Conrad Huber, or David Samoff, or Marconi, or George Christopher, or I. M. Pei, Benjamin Cardozo, John Philip Sousa or Senators Fong and Pastore, and Congressmen Mink, Brademas, and Pucinski have not added to the culture and achievement of our land? All these men and women, and millions more whose forebears were immigrants, are stained by a national commitment to restriction, isolation and indifference.

You and I, Mr. Speaker, and the great majority of the Congress know this is wrong. The vast majority of our fellow citizens know this is wrong.

I hope the Congress will act speedily on the Immigration bill as reported by the House Committee, free of any crippling amendments.



[The Speaker, The House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.]

Note: The letter was read by Bill D. Moyers, Special Assistant to the President, at his news conference at 4:15 p.m. on Wednesday, August 25, 1965. It was not made public in the form of a White House press release.

An act to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act was approved by the President on October 3, 1965 (see Item 546).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Letter to the Speaker Urging House Action on the Immigration Bill. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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