Cecilia Munoz, Director of the Domestic Policy Council at the White House circulated a message on August 27 ostensibly about the U.S. civil rights movement. In it she said the following about the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.

“This latter bill dramatically changed the way that immigrants were admitted to the United States, undoing a policy which allocated visas according to notions of racial superiority. You heard that right: for most of the 20th century, our immigration laws were based on the “racial” notion that some Europeans were superior to others.”

That is a deliberately provocative and distorted version of the nation’s immigration history. Prior to the adoption of that act in 1965 the nation had a system of national quotas designed limit immigration and to reflect the pattern of immigration that had settled the country. It had the effect of giving preference to European migration over other regions, but it is false to say that it was based on race. It was appropriate to end the national origin quota system in 1965, but it did not make sense to resume the mass immigration that had led to the adoption of that system in the early 1920s.

Munoz was trying to substantiate the idea that the civil rights movement’s demand for an end to racial discrimination against the descendants of slaves should embrace amnesty for illegal aliens. To equate the circumstances of those who break into our country with those who were forcibly brought to this country as slaves is not only a perversion of history, it is an effort to justify accommodating the presence of the illegal aliens while having the effect of diminishing the hardships of those Americans who endured slavery and segregation in the past.