Menu JTA Search

U.S. Clarifies Stand on Admission of Refugees

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

The State Department today made it clear that German refugees’ requests to enter the United States are given “every sympathetic consideration.

Making public the text of a memorandum to the League of Nations in reply to the Nansen International Office which had requested information about possibilities of settling refugees here, the State Department corrected the erroneous impression that had been created that immigration laws precluded settling German refugees here.

The Department made it clear that it could not make arrangements for group immigration, but could consider the case of each refugee who desired to enter this country individually.

Emphasis was placed by the department on the fact that the memorandum applied only to Russian, Armenian, Assyrian, Assyro-Chaldean and Turkish refugees and did not apply to refugees from Germany.

Entry requests of German refugees are received sympathetically by United States consular officers, it was explained.

Significance was attached to the inclusion in the reply of a clause from the Act of February 5, 1917 as follows: “Another excluding clause of the Act of February 5, 1917, which might have a bearing upon requests for the immigration of foreign groups is that clause which includes within the inadmissible classes ‘persons whose ticket or passage is paid for by any corporation, association, society, municipality or foreign government, either directly or indirectly. ” The text of the reply follows:

“In discussing the question of settling refugees from foreign countries in the U.S., it should be stated at the outset that the authority of the Secretary of State is limited to the determination, by the department’s consular officers abroad, of the question whether or not individual aliens are admissible under existint immigration laws. The actual admission of aliens at the ports of the U.S. is in the hands of the immigration officials of the Department of Labor, but no alien may successfully apply for admission as an immigrant without being in possion of a consular immigration visa.

“The Secretary of State is not in a position to express any views as to the disposition in the United States of such aliens as may be admitted into the country for permanent residence. There are a number of welfare, social service, Americanization, and foreign language organizations in the United States which deal with such problems and to which individual cases might be referred for helpful advice.

“The issuance of immigration visas, which is the basic determining factor of the character and extent of foreign immigration into the United States, is placed by law upon American consular officers abroad. These officers are guided by the various immigration laws enacted by Congress.

“The two most important laws of this character are the Act of February 5, 1917, which enumerates some forty classes of aliens who are inadmissible on various grounds, principally physical, mental and moral; and the Act of May 26, 1924, which imposes numerical limitations on immigration from the various countries of the world.

“Neither the Secretary of State nor any other United States authority is empowered to make arrangements for group immigration, since the tests to be applied are individual in character and the various cases must therefore be treated individually rather than in groups.

“During the recent years of increased unemployment in the United States a very large proportion of immigration visa applicants have been refused visas in view of the excluding clause of the Act of February 5, 1917, covering aliens likely to become a public charge. This clause has operated to reduce immigration to very small figures, immigration now being less than one tenth of what it was in 1929 and previous years, although the basic laws themselves have not been fundamentally changed since that time.

“Another excluding clause of the Act of February 5, 1917, which might have a bearing upon requests for the immigration of foreign groups is that clause which includes within the inadmissible classes ‘persons whose ticket or passage is paid for by any corporation, association, society, municipality or foreign government, either directly or indirectly !.”

NEXT STORY