Under that system the ability of new immigrants to come to America depended upon the country of their birth. Only 3 countries were allowed to supply 70 percent of all the immigrants.
<Our beautiful America was built by a nation of strangers.
Families were kept apart because a husband or a wife or a child had been born in the wrong place. Men of needed skill and talent were denied entrance because they came from southern or eastern Europe or from one of the developing continents.
This system violated the basic principle of American democracy–the principle that values and rewards each man on the basis of his merit as a man.
It has been un-American in the highest sense, because it has been untrue to the faith that brought thousands to these shores even before we were a country.
Today, with my signature, this system is abolished.
We can now believe that it will never again shadow the gate to the American Nation with the twin barriers of prejudice and privilege.
Our beautiful America was built by a nation of strangers.
<Only 3 countries were allowed to supply 70 percent of all the immigrants.
From a hundred different places or more they have poured forth into an empty land, joining and blending in one mighty and irresistible tide.
The land flourished because it was fed from so many sources–because it was nourished by so many cultures and traditions and peoples.
And from this experience, almost unique in the history of nations, has come America's attitude toward the rest of the world. We, because of what we are, feel safer and stronger in a world as varied as the people who make it up–a world where no country rules another and all countries can deal with the basic problems of human dignity and deal with those problems in their own way.
Now, under the monument which has welcomed so many to our shores, the American Nation returns to the finest of its traditions today.
The days of unlimited immigration are past.
But those who do come will come because of what they are, and not because of the land from which they sprung.
When the earliest settlers poured into a wild continent there was no one to ask them where they came from. The only question was: Were they sturdy enough to make the journey, were they strong enough to clear the land, were they enduring enough to make a home for freedom, and were they brave enough to die for liberty if it became necessary to do so?
And so it has been through all the great and testing moments of American history.
Our history this year we see in Viet-Nam. Men there are dying–men named Fernandez and Zajac and Zelinko and Mariano and McCormick.
Neither the enemy who killed them nor the people whose independence they have fought to save ever asked them where they or their parents came from. They were all Americans. It was for free men and for America that they gave their all, they gave their lives and selves.
By eliminating that same question as a test for immigration the Congress proves ourselves worthy of those men and worthy of our own traditions as a Nation."