(click on image to see it mapped on SepiaTown)
45 years ago today President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into the law the Immigration Act of 1965. The legislation abolished the 'National Origins Formula' which favored immigration from Northern and Western European countries and tightly restricted immigration from pretty much everywhere else; most notably Eastern and Southern Europe, South America, Asia and Africa. This change brought racial and ethnic equality to US immigration policy, and created large changes in the racial makeup of the United State in the proceeding 45 years.
The Act had wide support in Congress and was championed by the young Senator Edward Kennedy. The House of Representatives passed the act by a vote 326 to 69 (82.5%), and and the Senate passed it by a vote of 76 to 18. (Can you imagine what the fate and vote margins of a piece of pro-immigration legislation would be today).
During the signing ceremony on October 3, 1965 on the esplanade of Liberty Island, President Johnson stated...
"This [old] system violates 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."
Another image from the signing ceremony on SepiaTown
Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 Wikipedia Article
National Origins Formula Wikipedia Article