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State Department Makes Lisbon Refugee Immigration Center; Will ‘unblock’ Quotas

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The State Department announced today that “in view of the existing European situation” it had changed the place of control of all or part of the immigration quotas allotted to seven countries to Lisbon, a refugee center.

The entire Belgian, Luxemburg and Netherlands quotas have been transferred, as well as portions of the British, French, Italian and Swiss quotas, the department said.

The action followed announcement that European quotas had been “unblocked” meaning that quota places which could not be used by persons to whom they had been assigned would be reassigned–in order to expedite handling of refugee pleas for admission. The department would release no figures on the number of visas made available by the “unblocking” process.

In a statement last night–its first in recent months on the refugee problem–the State Department said that refugees from to Totalitarian countries would have to depend largely on the “unblocked” quotas for entry into the United States, while emergency visitors’ visas were being restricted to those who could afford satisfactory proof of their ability to leave this country after expiration of their permits.

The department attributed delay in issuance of visas to the requirements of the immigration laws and the necessity of obtaining final consular approval for visa issuance. The statement said about 2,000 names had been submitted by recognized refugee-aid committees, only 12 had been found undesirable after a careful check and 1,000 emergency visas had been actually issued.

“of the balance, some have only recently dispatched, some applicants are in hiding or under assumed names for their protection. some are inaccessible to the consuls and some have removed from the consular district to another district and are still being sought,” it was stated.

The statement confirmed the establishment of an interdepartmental committee of representatives of the State, Justice, War and Navy departments to check on applications for visitors visas and to pass on consular objections regarding such applications.

“Unblocking” of the immigration quotas has opened up all the European quotas, with the exception of the German and Polish, and these are expected to be opened in about two months, the department said. It added that it expected to keep the emergency visitors’ visas for use” in exceptional circumstances” where persons of “exceptional merit” were in “danger of persecution or death at the hands of autocracy.”

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