WASHINGTON (Jun. 9)
Approximately 1,000 refugees will be immediately brought to the United States and placed in an “emergency refugee shelter” to be established at Fort Ontario, near Oswego, New York, President Roosevelt disclosed at his press conference today.
While the war Refugee Board is charged with the overall responsibility for the project, the Army will take the necessary security precautions, so that the refugees will remain in the camp, and the actual administration of the camp is to be in the hands of the War Relocation Authority, the President revealed.
In a cablegram of instructions to Ambassador Robert Murphy in Algiers, the President said he would “like the group to include a reasonable proportion of various categories of persecuted people who have fled to Italy.” The President instructed the Ambassador “to bear in mind to the extent possible those refugees should be selected for whom other havens of refuge are not immediately available.” He cabled Murphy that the “procedure for the selection of the refugees and the arrangements for bringing them over should be as simple and expeditious as possible, uncomplicated by any of the usual formalities involved in admitting people to the United States under the immigration laws.”
NAVY AND WAR DEPARTMENTS GET TRANSPORTATION INSTRUCTIONS
The Navy and War Departments were instructed in a memorandum to the Secretaries to take the steps necessary to expedite the transportation of the refugees to the United States, and the War Department was ordered to arrange to furnish and properly equip Fort Ontario to receive the refugees, and to arrange for their transportation from the port of arrival to the camp. The War Relocation Authority was instructed to make arrangements to handle the actual administration of the camp, designated as the “emergency refugee shelter.”
The United States Bureau of the Budget will make arrangements for financing the project until the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration is in a position to assume the financial responsibilities involved, it was disclosed. The Bureau will draw upon available funds of the War Department, the War Relocation Authority, the War Refugee Board, and the Foreign War Relief Appropriation, and if necessary upon the President’s Emergency Fund.
MANY REFUGEES BEING MOVED FROM ITALY TO MIDDLE EAST
The President introduced the subject at today’s conference by telling reporters that refugees were still pouring into Italy in very large numbers and interfering with military operations. New camps, he said, have been set up in the Mediterranean area and refugees are being moved out of Italy to the Middle East where the capacity of the
Meanwhile, he said, a camp near Oswego, New York, had been found that was not being used on a big scale by the Army and 1,000 refugees would be brought over to go into that camp. Queried whether the figures referred to one camp, the President said that that was all to this country. He said he was not familiar with any legislation on the subject now pending. He declared that he did not know from what area the refugees were coming but presumed the Mediterranean.
FULL TEXT OF PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT’S RESCUE ORDER
The cablegram on the rescue of Jewish and other refugees sent by President Roosevelt to Ambassador Murphy in Algiers emphasizes the possibility of saving people from the Balkan countries. The full text reads:
“Information available to me indicates that there are real possibilities of saving human lives by bringing more refugees through Yugoslavia to southern Italy. I am also informed that the escape of refugees by this route has from time to time been greatly overtaxed. I am advised that this is the situation at the present moment and that accordingly possibilities of increasing the flow of refugees to Italy may be lost.
“I understand that many of the refugees in southern Italy have been and are being moved to temporary havens in areas adjacent to the Mediterranean and that efforts are being made to increase existing refugee facilities in these areas. I am most anxious that this effort to take refugees from Italy to areas relatively close by be intensified.
“At the same time I feel that it is important that the United States indicate that it is ready to share the burden of caring for refugees during the war. Accordingly, I have decided that approximately, 1,000 refugees should be immediately brought from Italy to this country, to be placed in an emergency refugee shelter to be established at Fort Ontario near Oswego, New York, where under appropriate security restrictions they will remain for the duration of the war. These refugees will be brought into this country outside of the regular immigration procedure just as civilian internees from Latin American countries and prisoners of war have been brought here. The emergency refugee shelter will be well equipped to take good care of these people. It is contemplated that at the end of the war they will be returned to their homelands.
RAPID DEPARTURE OF REFUGEES FOR U. S. IS URGED
“You may assume that the emergency refugee shelter will be ready to receive these refugees when they arrive. I will appreciate it therefore if you will arrange for the departure to the United States as rapidly as possible, consistent with military requirements, of approximately 1,000 refugees in southern Italy. You may call upon representatives of the War Refugee Board in Algiers to assist you in this matter. The full cooperation of our military and naval authorities should be enlisted in effecting the prompt removal and transportation of the refugees.
“In choosing the refugees to be brought to the United States, please bear in mind that to the extent possible those refugees should be selected for whom other havens of refuge are not immediately available. I should however like the group to include a reasonable proportion of various categories of persecuted peoples who have fled to Italy.
“You should bear in mind that since these refugees are to be placed in a camp in the United States under appropriate security restrictions, the procedure for the selection of the refugees and arrangements for bringing them here should be as simple and expeditious as possible, uncomplicated by any of the usual formalities involved in admitting people to the United States under the immigration laws. However, please he sure that the necessary health checks are made to avoid bringing here persons affiliated with loathsome, dangerous or contagious disease. If you encounter any difficulties in arranging for the prompt departure of these refugees please let me know.”