“It only took twenty three Commies to overthrow Russia” – J. Edgar Hoover
The year is 1950, the Cold War is heating up and the fear of Communism has gripped the United States. It was this wave of the fear that led to the passage of the Internal Security Act of 1950. Basically, the act called for the “registration” of all aliens with the Attorney General’s office. The act was initially vetoed by President Harry S. Truman who claimed it “would make a mockery of our Bill of Rights and would actually weaken our internal security measures." Riding the wave of fear, the Act was actually passed by both the House of Representatives (248-48) and the Senate (57-10). Amazingly, it wasn’t repealed until 1980.
Here are some of the provisions of the Internal Security Act of 1950, also known as the McCarran Act
a. Present and former membership in the Communist party or any other totalitarian party or its affiliates was specifically made a ground for inadmissibility.
b. Aliens in the United States who, at the time of their entry or by reason of subsequent actions, would have been inadmissible under the provisions of the Internal Security Act, were made deportable regardless of the length of their residence in the United States.
c. The discretion of the Attorney General in admitting otherwise inadmissible aliens temporarily, and in some instances permanently, was curtailed or eliminated.
d. The Attorney General was given authority to exclude and deport without a hearing an alien whose admission would be prejudicial to the public interest if the Attorney General’s finding was based on confidential information the disclosure of which would have been prejudicial to the public interest of the United States.
e. The Attorney General was given authority to supervise deportable aliens pending their deportation and also was given greater latitude in selecting the country of deportation. However, deportation of an alien was prohibited to any country in which the alien would be subject to physical persecution.
f. Any alien deportable as a subversive criminal, or member of the immoral classes who willfully failed to depart from the United States within six months after the issuance of the deportation order was made liable to criminal prosecution and could be imprisoned for up to ten years.
g. Every alien residing in the United States subject to alien registration was required to notify the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization of his address within ten days of each January 1st in which he resided in the United States.
Folks, all one has to do is substitute “terrorism” for “communism” and the similarities become obvious. I, in no means intend to advocate terrorism but the recent suspicions it has provoked have certainly provided the impetus for the curtailing of many of the freedoms which we might take for granted. I don’t know about you but with the recent calling for a “national identification system” (show me your papers!), the Homeland Security Advisory System, Office of Homeland Security, Operation TIPS – Terrorist Information and Prevention System which bills itself as “A national system for concerned workers to report suspicious activity." (jeez, I hope I haven’t pissed off any of my co-workers lately) and other such measures on the horizon, I’m left to wonder how far removed we are from 1950’s.