Commission Headed by Dr. Hexter Recommends Relief Work for Jewish Immigrants in Mexico
A report on the present situation of the Jewish in Mexico as well as a discussion of the possibilities of Mexico as a land for Jewish immigration, urging a definite discouragement of all plans with regard to Jewish settlement in Mexico, has just been issued by Dr. Maurice B. Hexter, a member of the commission sent in April 1925 to Mexico by the Emergency Committee on Jewish Refugees.
Emphasizing his opinion that “colonization in Mexico should not only not be encouraged, but should definitely and firmly be discouraged,” Dr. Hexter’s report says: “No investigator or student of the subject of Jewish immigration to Mexico is prepared to recommend otherwise. Only in the minds of steamship agents, petty Jewish politicians, certain Mexican officials and harassed, suffering and desperate Jewish immigrants does such a thought prevail.”
The following reasons are given to substantiate this conclusion: (a) The absence of a large area of fertile soil which might be worked without large and expensive irrigation projects, (b) The lack of large industrial centers close by the agricultural area, which might form a ready market for the produce, (c) an inadequate system of railroads or other means of transportation necessary for easy and cheap shipping of the produce, (d) the impossibility and danger of competing with peon labor, (e) A necessary continuance of agrarianism with its consequent uncertainty.
The present Jewish population in Mexico is estimated by Dr. Hexter to be 9,325, of which only about one twelfth are women. Their economic position is very had, the housing conditions are such as to necessitate the use of a single room by four or five people of both sexes, the health situation is deplorable there being no physicians and no adequate hospitals or dispensaries.
The recommendations made in the report for certain relief work, credit facilities for constructive social work among the Mexican Jews at an estimated total budget of $75,000 for the first year, have been adopted by the Emergency Committee. This work is now being done by a committee composed of four representatives of the Emergency Committee and three representing the Independent Order B’nai Brith which has previously carried or work along these lines in Mexico City.
The Emergency Committee on Jewish Refugees came into being through a conference of various central and national Jewish organizations in American on June 22, 1924, as a result of the arousing of public opinion in American Jewry to the dire condition of the refugees stranded in various European ports. At that time a conference of representatives from all groups in Jewish life was called and the Emergency Committee was organized with the purpose of raising a fund of $500,000 with which to meet the crisis that had arisen. Due to the activities of the Emergency Committee under the chairmanship of Louis Marshal and Dr. Stephen S. Wise the very acute refugee situation has been alleviated to a large extent. It is reported that about 300 out of over 6,000 refugees are still left stranded in the different ports of Europe.