Value of Refugees to American Life Stressed at Parley Here
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Value of Refugees to American Life Stressed at Parley Here

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That refugees can enrich America economically and culturally if provided with the channels for doing so was stressed today at the Second General Conference on the Emigre and the Community, held under the auspices of the Good Neighbor Committee.

Morning and afternoon sessions, held at the Ethical Culture Meeting House, were attended by about 200 persons who heard addresses by Clarence E. Pickett, Edward M.M. Warburg, Dr. George N. Shuster, Dr. Eduard C. Lindemann, Miss Evelyn Hersey, Harold P. Page, Miss Cecilia Razovsky, Charles J. Liebman, Dr. Alvin Johnson and others.

The conference closed with a dinner at the Hotel Roosevelt at which scheduled speakers included Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, James G. MacDonald, Jane Cowl, Dr. William Haber, Father Joseph D. Ostermann, Dr. Robert W. Searle and Dr. John L. Elliott, presiding.

Mr. Warburg, chairman of the administration committee of the Joint Distribution Committee, stressed that despite the impression that the war had removed the anti-Semitic aspect of the refugee problem, the sectarian aspect remained. He revealed, incidentally, in reply to a question, that an unexpected difficulty had arisen in removing refugee children from England — their foster parents often had become so attached to them that they were reluctant to let them go.

Mr. Pickett, secretary of the American Friends Service Committee, who presided at the morning session, suggested that “it is an opportune time for our whole governmental attitude toward the immigrant to be revised,” and deplored anti-alien bills in Congress and State legislatures. He stressed “the enormous values that have acorued to our own country from the admission of aliens.”

At the afternoon session, at which Dr. Lindemann presided, Miss Hersey, of the American Committee for Christian Refugees, disclosed that the State Department was rearranging quota numbers by assigning unused German visas to refugees in other countries so that the total quota could be used. The new arrangement is already functioning in England and Cuba and will be extended within a few weeks to Shanghai, where the refugee plight is “terrific,” she said. Miss Hersey declared that with the influx of refugee experts the United States was becoming the cultural center of the world and would be “many times richer” if it succeeded in “digging the channels” for refugees to make their contributions.

Miss Razovsky, of the National Refugee Service, urged that Americans join in solving three refugee problems, (1) providing more temporary shelters for arriving refugees, (2) aiding in defraying storage expenses for “lift vans” — the household goods of the refugees transported here or awaiting shipment from European countries, and (3) providing added loans and stipends to help refugees to start life anew.

Mr. Liebman, president of the Refugee Economic Corporation, spoke optimistically of the possibilities of refugee settlement on land in the United States. Dr. Johnson counselled against forcing refugees to give up their own cultural heritage when coming here. Other speakers were Dr. Eduard Heimann, the educator, and Miss Annemarie Feibes, chairman of the Council for Student Refugees, who presented the refugees’ viewpoint.

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