By Tom Gjelten, NPR
October 3, 2015
Fifty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a new immigration law that would change the face of the nation. But that dramatic impact, ironically, was in good part the result of a major miscalculation by those who actually wanted to limit the bill's effect.
The Immigration and Nationality Act, signed at the foot of the Statue of Liberty on Oct. 3, 1965, abolished the national origin quota system, under which immigrants were chosen on the basis of their race and ancestry. The quotas set aside tens of thousands of visas each year for immigrants from Northern and Western Europe, while many countries in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East were allocated barely 100 slots each. It was a blatantly discriminatory system.
Under the new law, immigrants were to be selected on the basis of their family connections in the United States and the skills and training they could offer, with all nationalities treated more or less equally.[...]
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