April 8, 2024
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Center for Jewish History to Hold Major Symposium Confronting Fraught History of US Immigration Policy This Sunday

(Courtesy of Center for Jewish History) The Center for Jewish History (CJH) will confront the fraught history of U.S. immigration policy on Sunday, April 7, when it hosts a major symposium entitled “Reconsidering Jewish Migration to the United States: A Century of Controversy.” This significant event marks the 100th anniversary of the Johnson-Reed Immigration Act of 1924, a pivotal piece of legislation that shaped the landscape of immigration to the United States for decades.

The Johnson-Reed Act limited the number of immigrants allowed entry into the United States through quotas and completely excluded immigrants from Asia. The legislation also had dire consequences for Jews trying to flee Nazi persecution during World War II.

“As we mark the centennial of the Johnson-Reed Immigration Act, it is imperative to understand the historical context for the legislation and the profound effect it had Jewish immigrants and others seeking refuge and opportunity in the United States,” said CJH President Dr. Gavriel Rosenfeld. 

The symposium, which begins at 10 a.m., will convene distinguished scholars, experts and politicians from across the nation to delve into the historical and contemporary implications of the 1924 act. Hear from esteemed figures including Mark Hetfield, president of HIAS; U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY); Hasia Diner, professor emerita at New York University; Mae Ngai, Lung family professor of Asian American studies and professor of history at Columbia University; Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine and many others. 

The conversation will focus on the initial restrictive period from the interwar years through the 1960s, the impact on Jews and other immigrant groups, and the subsequent liberalization of immigration laws after the 1960s–all of which led to major demographic shifts and laid the groundwork for current debates on immigration in American life.

“By examining our past, we aim to foster a more informed and compassionate dialogue about immigration today, emphasizing the importance of learning from history so that we can shape a more inclusive future,” said Rosenfeld. “This symposium is not just a commemoration but a call to action for all of us to consider the values and policies that define who we are as a nation and how we welcome those who seek to become a part of it.”

Graduate and undergraduate students are invited to attend in person for free. The Moise Y Safra Foundation has generously donated tickets. Students should email [email protected].

The symposium is generously sponsored by the Selz Foundation, the David Berg Foundation and supplemented by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

For ticket info, visit https://cjh.org/jewish_migration/
In-person tickets are $36, general and $28, members. To attend via Zoom, pay what you wish.

 

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