Emmanuel Celler and Philip Hart, "A Bill to Amend the Immigration and Nationality Act, and for other Purposes," 1965


President Johnson signing the 1965 Immigration Act
Courtesy of the LBJ Presidential Library

Proposed by Rep. Emanuel Celler (D-New York) and Sen. Philip Hart (D-Michigan) and supported by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts), this bill would eliminate the national origins quota system that had been place since the 1920s. Instead, immigration visas would be capped per year based on hemisphere of origin: 170,000 for the Eastern Hemisphere and 120,000 for the Western, plus unlimited numbers of visas for family members of immigrants and some resident aliens. The bill passed, and President Johnson held the signing of the Act on October 3 at the Statue of Liberty, highlighting the symbolic importance of the new immigration laws. This is a copy of the proposed bill as it appeared before the U.S. Senate in January 1965.


"A Bill to Amend the Immigration and Nationality Act, and for other Purposes"


As you read the document, reflect on the following questions:

  • Page 4 of the bill beginning on line 10 describes the "traditional policy" of the United States with regard to refugees and asylum-seekers. What is this policy?
  • According to page 12, lines 7-12, this Act would guarantee visas for refugees from any country ruled by what kind of government?
  • According to page 18, lines 18-23, what kinds of people needed special permission to enter the United States?