Hall Center For The Humanities

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Marina Maccari-Clayton
History/Hall Center Sias Graduate Fellow (presenter) and Roger Daniels, Charles Phelps Taft Professor Emeritus of History, University of Cincinnati (commentator)

?Whom We Shall Welcome?: Italian Migration and the Truman Administration
Public Symposium

Thu., Mar. 15, 2007, 2:00pm - 5:00pm
Location: Frances Families Theater, Truman Presidential Museum and Library
The United States is often described as a ?nation of immigrants,? but the tension between restrictionists and advocates of a more liberal migration policy has been constant from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 up to the present. A key moment in this debate took place during the early Cold War period when President Truman began pushing for the abolition of the national origin quota system of the 1920s. The overpopulation problem that afflicted some Western European countries after WWII appeared as a threat to the entire stability of the Western world, as poverty and unemployment offered fertile ground for the diffusion of Communism. President Truman and his entourage emphasized that it was not surprising that the Western European country where the problem of surplus population was most severe?Italy?was also the one with the strongest Communist Party. Yet, the Cold War atmosphere also provided a rationale for the supporters of more restrictive measures who feared the infiltration of Communist immigrants in the United States. In the end, the restrictionists won a major victory with the passage of the McCarran-Walter Omnibus Bill of 1952 despite the presidential veto. One of Truman?s final acts as President was the appointment of a Commission on Immigration and Naturalization whose final report provides the title to this presentation. They wrote: ?The immigration law is an image in which other nations see us. It tells them how we really feel about them and their problems, and not how we say we do. It is also an expression of the sincerity of our confidence in ourselves and our institutions. An immigration law which reflects fear and insecurity makes a hollow mockery of confident world leadership.?

This event is free with museum admission.
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