Letter to The Wall Street Journal re Jewish Involvement in Immigration Policy

The Wall Street Journal published my reply to Abraham Miller’s op-ed critical of my work on Jewish involvement in immigration policy. They had a very limited maximum word count (272) and removed the references.

In dismissing my argument that Jewish organizations have been disproportionately influential in U.S. immigration policy, Abraham Miller fails to confront the data compiled in my 1998 book “The Culture of Critique,” which also describes changes in academic attitudes on race critical to passage of the 1965 Immigration Act (“The Theory Behind That Charlottesville Slogan,” op-ed, April 3). It was absolutely understood by both restrictionists and antirestrictionists in Congress that Jewish organizations spearheaded opposition against the 1924 law’s national origins, despite little public support. Jewish organizations also organized, funded and performed most of the work of a variety of umbrella organizations aimed at combating the 1924 law. The 1965 reform was thus not the result of popular pressure but rather of a 40-year program of activism.

Rep. Michael Feighan did indeed shape family based immigration in the 1965 law. But family based, rather than skills-based immigration, had been advocated by Jewish organizations since at least the 1920s. Feighan would be horrified at the results given his long record of support for the 1924 law (see NPR.org: “In 1965 A Conservative Tried to Keep America White. His Plan Backfired”). He may well have been deceived by the 1965 reform’s proponents, who insisted it wouldn’t change the ethnic balance of the U.S. by dramatically increasing non-European immigration.

Far from being unusual, my view of the role of Jewish organizations is shared by, e.g., University of California, Santa Barbara historian Otis Graham and Vanderbilt University historian Hugh Davis Graham.

Em. Prof. Kevin MacDonald

Calif. State University, Long Beach


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