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Roosevelt Lauds Contribution of Refugees to American Economy and Culture

The contributions made by refugees to American economy and culture were lauded by President Roosevelt, in a message addressed to the two-day annual meeting of the National Refugee Service which concluded here today, attended by 300 leaders in refugee-assistance work throughout the country.

“By maintaining its tradition of asylum for the oppressed in a decade when the world was infested with group hatred and persecution, our country has done itself honor,” the President’s message said. It reiterated the suggestion made by President Roosevelt three years ago that “the program of the National Refugee Service might provide a model of constructive absorption of immigrants into the American life.”

The success of the nationally-organized NRS program for adjustment of refugees in the United States during the past decade, enabling thousands of newcomers to serve America usefully on the war and home fronts, was also lauded by Secretary of State Cordell Hull, Attorney General Francis Biddle and UNRRA Director Herbert H. Lehman in messages addressed to William Rosenwald, president of the NRS. “It is becoming more generally recognized that the refugee group can be a great asset to our country as royal and productive citizens if we continue to give them full cooperation which they deserve,” Attorney General Biddle wrote.

POST-WAR IMMIGRATION DISCUSSED; RIEGELMAN ELECTED PRESIDENT OF THE NRS

The meeting concluded with the election of Charles A. Riegelman as president of the National Refugee Service succeeding William Rosenwald who was elected honorary resident. Joseph P. Chamberlain was re-elected chairman of the Board. I. Edwin Coldwasser and Mrs. Walter A. Hirseh were elected vice-presidents in addition to the re-elected seven former vice-presidents. Richard S. Goldman was elected treasurer, and Stanley N. Isaacs, secretary.

Reviewing the activities of the National Refugee Service and discussing post-war immigration, William Rosenwald, in his presidential report to the meeting, said: The records of the NRS “contain some three quarters of a million names of refugees overseas and of relatives here who are concerned about their fate. Many of these records represent broken families in which the wife may be on one side of the ocean and the husband on the other, or the father may be here, the mother a deportee in Poland, one child in England, and another in Shanghai. Many such families await the day of reunion. The task of bringing this about, will, of course, engage the attention of our own and other governments, of such institutions as the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration and the Red Cross, and of various private philanthropic organizations, notably the Joint Distribution Committee. To that task NRS will bring a considerable contribution.

“We may be confident that the United States will maintain its tradition of hospitality so long as the majority of the people of this country remember that immigration made us great, and recognize its continuing positive value,” Mr. Rosenwald continued. “The record since 1934 gives us reason for confidence on this score. This country has stood out among the nations of the world as one of the foremost havens for refugees at a time when many lands shut their doors. While 260,000 refugees reached our shores, the Government since 1933 showed its good-will by issuing more than 500,000 visas to refugees. Actually, less than half of the total visas issued were used. Those who received the remainder were unable to reach this country. Nevertheless, the very fact that they were granted affords evidence of the Government’s hospitable policy.”

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