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Washington, D.C. 20425

September 1980



The United States Commission on Civil Rights transmits this report to you pursuant to Public Law 85-315, as amended. The Tarnished Golden Door: Civil Rights Issues in Immigration is based on a Commission hearing in Washington, D.C., in November 1978 and on months of research preceding and following that hearing. The report examines the current immigration system and the civil rights problems encountered in that system by American residents, particularly those citizens and aliens who are racially and culturally identifiable with major immigrant groups. Although the United States has been variously characterized as "a nation of immigrants” and a "melting pot,” strangers migrating to its shores have often met resistance from previous generations of immigrants. In part, this resistance is reflected in current immigration laws, procedures, and practices that often fail to accord these peoples the constitutional safeguards available to other United States citizens, America's "old" immigrants. Generally, the report reaches two conclusions: current immigration laws still contain discriminatory provisions, and current immigration laws and the practices and procedures for the enforcement of those laws result in the denial of the rights of American citizens and aliens. To remedy the problems that led to these conclusions, the report offers recommendations for improving immigration law and procedure. Some of the specific problems discussed in this report will require legislative remedies, while others may be solved more readily by administrative action. It is our hope that this report, with its findings and recommendations, will prompt immediate corrective action, for we believe that American residents with ethnic characteristics similar to major immigrant groups have suffered too long from the burdens attendant upon immigrant or alien status in American society.


Arthur S. Flemming, Chairman
Stephen Horn, Vice Chairman
Frankie M. Freeman
Manuel Ruiz, Jr.
Murray Saltzman

Louis Nuñez, Staff Director


Richard Baca, former General Counsel, had overall responsibility for designing and planning the first half of the project. Reita P. Pendry, former Assistant General Counsel, coordinated initial field investigations. Field investigations were done by the following current and former staff members of the Office of General Counsel: Reita P. Pendry, Nicasio Dimas, Jr., Linda Huber, Debra Miron, Donald Chou, and Phyllis K. Fong. Prior to the national hearing, Nicasio Dimas, Jr., former Acting Assistant General Counsel, became the project director and guided the project through the completion of the first draft of the report. The report was written by Nicasio Dimas, Jr., Donald Chou, and Phyllis K. Fong. During the latter stages of the drafting of this report, Donald Chou, attorney-advisory, assumed the duties of project director. Eileen Stein, General Counsel, provided the overall supervision for the final preparation of the report. Editorial and technical assistance were provided by: Carol-Lee Hurley, Laura Chin, Jack Hartog, Emily Marwell, Debra Schirm, Newton Chu, Gloria Gonzalez, Michael Kramer, Maria Echaveste, Marlene Cintron, Alvin Matthews, Nina G. Rosoff, Helen Loukas, and Shirley Hill Witt. Assistance was also provided by: Lorraine W. Jackson, Treola J. Grooms, Ana M. Beitia, Connie Lee, DeBorah Marks, Mary Grose, Brenda Blount, Gwen Morris, Angela Randolph, Stephanie Campbell, Vivian Washington, Vivian Hauser, Deborah Harrison, Audree Holton, and Tanya Wideman.

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