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The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) of 1952 (also known as the McCarran-Walter Act) restricted immigration into the U.S. and is codified under Title 8 of the United States Code. The Act governs primarily immigration and citizenship in the United States. Currently, under this act, effective from December 24, 1952 to present, the definition of the "United States" for nationality purposes was expanded to add Guammarker; and, effective November 3, 1986, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islandsmarker (in addition to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands of the United Statesmarker). Persons born in these territories on or after December 24, 1952 acquire U.S. citizenship at birth on the same terms as persons born in other parts of the United States; and "Outlying possessions of the United States" was restricted to American Samoamarker and Swains Islandmarker.Before the INA, a variety of statutes governed immigration law but were not organized within one body of text. As a result of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the INA has undergone a major restructuring beginning in March 2003 and its provisions regarding the admissibility and removability of terrorist suspects has received much media and scholarly attention.


The bill was named after the bill's sponsors: Senator Pat McCarran (D-Nevadamarker), and Congressman Francis Walter (D-Pennsylvaniamarker).

Racial restrictions which previously existed were abolished in the INA, but a quota system was retained and the policy of restricting the numbers of immigrants from certain countries was continued. Eventually, the INA established a preference system which selected which ethnic groups were desirable immigrants and placed great importance on labor qualifications.

The INA defined three types of immigrants: 1. immigrants with special skills or relatives of U.S. citizens who were exempt from quotas and who were to be admitted without restrictions; 2. average immigrants whose numbers were not supposed to exceed 270,000 per year; 3. refugees.

The Act allowed the government to deport immigrants or naturalized citizens engaged in subversive activities and also allowed the barring of suspected subversives from entering the country. It was used over the years to bar members and former members and "fellow travelers" of the Communist Party from entry into the United States, even those who had not been associated with the party for decades.

The Act had been used to exclude numerous prominent individuals until its ideological clauses were repealed in 1990. These include British sociologist Tom Bottomore, Argentine novelist Julio Cortázar, Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez, Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, Uruguayan scholar Angel Rama, philosopher Michel Foucault (France), Italian playwright and Nobel Laureate Dario Fo, and authors Graham Greene (Great Britain), Doris Lessing (Zimbabwe (Rhodesia)-Great Britain), Dennis Brutus (South Africa), Farley Mowat (Canada), who wrote a book on the episode, Kōbō Abe (Japan), Carlos Fuentes (Mexico), and Jan Myrdal (Sweden)[116838], as well as Pierre Trudeau prior to becoming Prime Minister of Canada .

The following is a passage taken from the 1962 World Book Encyclopedia, Page 52, Book-13. Petition for Naturalization. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 requires an alien to apply for a petition for naturalization. This form may be obtained from any office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, a division of the Department of Justice, or from any court authorized to naturalize aliens.

Before applying, an alien must be at least 18 years old and must have been lawfully admitted to live permanently in the United States. He must have lived in the United States for five years and for the last six months in the state where he seeks to be naturalized. In some cases, he need only have lived three years in the United States. He must be of good moral character and "attached to the principles of the Constitution". The law states that an alien is not of good moral character if he is a drunkard, has committed adultery, has more than one wife, makes his living by gambling, has lied to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, has been in jail more than 180 days for any reason during his five years in the United States, or is a convicted murderer.


  • "Today, we are protecting ourselves as we were in 1924, against being flooded by immigrants from Eastern Europe. This is fantastic...We do not need to be protected against immigrants from these countries on the contrary we want to stretch out a helping hand, to save those who have managed to flee into Western Europe, to succor those who are brave enough to escape from barbarism, to welcome and restore them against the day when their countries will, as we hope, be free again...these are only a few examples of the absurdity, the cruelty of carrying over into this year of 1952 the isolationist limitations of our 1924 law. In no other realm of our national life are we so hampered and stultified by the dead hand of the past, as we are in this field of immigration." -President Harry Truman's veto message.

  • "I believe that this nation is the last hope of Western civilization and if this oasis of the world shall be overrun, perverted, contaminated or destroyed, then the last flickering light of humanity will be extinguished. I take no issue with those who would praise the contributions which have been made to our society by people of many races, of varied creeds and colors. America is indeed a joining together of many streams which go to form a mighty river which we call the American way. However, we have in the United States today hard-core, indigestible blocs which have not become integrated into the American way of life, but which, on the contrary are its deadly enemies. Today, as never before, untold millions are storming our gates for admission and those gates are cracking under the strain. The solution of the problems of Europe and Asia will not come through a transplanting of those problems en masse to the United States.... I do not intend to become prophetic, but if the enemies of this legislation succeed in riddling it to pieces, or in amending it beyond recognition, they will have contributed more to promote this nation's downfall than any other group since we achieved our independence as a nation." (Senator Pat McCarran, Cong. Rec., March 2, 1953, p. 1518.)


Truman vetoed the McCarran-Walter Act because he regarded the bill as "un-American" and discriminatory. Truman's veto was overridden by a vote of 278 to 113 in the House, and 57 to 26 in the Senate. Parts of the McCarran-Walter act remain in place today but much of it was overturned by the Immigration and Nationality Services Act of 1965.

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