JFK address to American Jewish Congress

A portrait taken on July 15, 1957 shows US Senator John Fitzgerald Kennedy giving a speech.

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

Breakfast meeting, Hotel Biltmore. Main focus: Immigration Reform. Problems arising out of the ending of segregation. Health needs of older citizens. Private health plans often exclude those over 65 or those of ill health. Health/life expectancy is increasing. The problem has become a crisis. We need amendments to social security laws. Shortage of public school
> classrooms. How are we going to compete with the Russians? How is our democracy going to successfully operate? Hopeful next Congress will tackle this problem. Despite fair labor standards act workers have no protection
against substandard wages. Happens all over "enlightened" New England. Increasing democracy in labor unions. Decent housing for low income people. Low cost atomic power. New assistance to small business. Our needs are great
and agenda long. Progressive program needed. Immigration. Injustices of McCarran act. Hard-pressed people let in. American citizens who have adopted children from overseas. Immigration reform needed. We think too often in terms of charity instead of humanity. We have forgotten that we were all strangers once. Succesive,waves of distrust and stereotypes. McCarran-Walter act passed over veto so we can't get too hopeful about change. Aware of the possible. Reform of immigration policy cannot pit one group over another. There should be no limits by hemisphere as there are now. Rather see a preference given to a nuclear physicist over an Anglo-Saxon. a preference for refugees. May be other categories. Perhaps an annual quota based on current world conditions. Hungarians admitted should be given permanent visas. Grant powers to President in special hardship cases. Skills in the national interest. Concludes with story from Alistar Cooke's book.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 8335