Refugee Groups Disappointed at Decision to Shift Anglo-u.s.a. Parley to Bermuda

Groups concerned with aiding Jewish and other refugees from Nazi-occupied territories to find havens in Allied or neutral countries expressed disappointment today at the announcement that the forthcoming Anglo-American refugee conference is to be held in Bermuda, instead of Ottawa, the site originally suggested by Secretary of State Cordell Hull in his note to the British Government.

These interested groups feel that the conferees will be less subject to public pressure in Bermuda, since it will be difficult for delegations and reporters to go there, and also that the shift from Ottawa lessens the prospects for collaboration by the Canadian Government, since a meeting on Canadian soil might have encouraged the Dominion to receive refugees.

Among those mentioned here as possible representatives at Bermuda are Myron C. Taylor, President Roosevelt’s envoy to the Vatican and the United States representative on the Intergovernmental Refugee Committee and Archbishop Francis Spellman now on his way back to the United States; and Lord Winterton, British representative on the Intergovernmental Committee and its chairman and Sir Gerald Campbell, British Minister to the United States.

The State Department, meanwhile, was charged today with restricting the immigration of refugees to this country to a far greater extent than authorized to do so by Congress. It was pointed out that since 1933 less than forty percent of the immigrants entitled to enter under the existing quotas have been granted visas.

The charges, made by Louis E. Spiegler, Washington representative of the HIAS, were voiced in connection with the forthcoming refugee conference. He referred to the note delivered by the Secretary of State on February 23, 1943 to the British Government in which the conference was suggested, and pointed out that while 153,774 immigrants can enter this country annually under the existing immigration quota, only 51,776 entered during the year 1940-1941 and no more than 28,781 entered during the immigration year of 1941-1942. These included 23,737 Jews in the former year and 10,608 in the latter.

The Secretary of State in his note to the British Government stated that 228,964 visas were issued in the war years 1939-1942, and also that “from the advent of the Hitler regime in 1933 until June 30,1942, 647,776 visas were issued by American diplomatic and consular officers to natives or nationals of the various countries now dominated by the Axis powers, the great majority of which persons were refugees from Nazi persecution.” It added that in affording asylum to refugees, the U.S. Government “is and must be bound by legislation enacted by Congress determining the immigration policy of the United States.”

In analyzing the note, Mr. Spiegler pointed to the fact that under the existing quota regulations, more than 1,380,000 immigrants could have entered the United States since 1933 as compared with the 547.775 for whom visas were granted. During the war years 1939-1942 more than 460,000 visas could have been issued under the immigration quota as compared with the 228,964 which the State Department says were issued.

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