Court Rules on Literacy Test Exemption
Menu JTA Search

Court Rules on Literacy Test Exemption

Download PDF for this date

A nine year old child may not “bring in” her mother to the United States, and thereby avoid compliance with the literacy test, was the ruling of the Second Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in New York in a decision made public here.

The Court also ruled that ‘religious persecution,’ another ground of literacy test exemption, is to be strictly interpreted, and that it does not include refugees from robbery and banditry or political and social revolution.

The alien mother who was refused admission was an Armenian widow whose husband was killed in the massacres in 1917. She was debarred because she could not read or write. The child apparently passed the literacy test, and then the mother’s attorney unsuccessfully attempted to obtain her admission under the clause allowing a child to bring in a mother. The Court is rejecting this argument, held it was absurd to say a child of such tender years could “bring in” her mother, and ruled that the “bringing in” must be actual.

In ruling on the question of religious persecution the Court decided another important point, namely, that the place of religious persecution must be in the last country of residence. In this case the Armenian woman had resided in France two years before embarking for the United States, and even if the persecution in Armenia had been religious, this intervening residence in France would have deprived her of the right to invoke the exemption from the literacy test, the Court decided.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund