Washington (Jun. 4)
Admission of displaced persons to the United States would serve the “self-interests” of this country and provide the only “logical, humane and practicable solution” of the DP problem, Rep. William G. Stratton, Republican of Illinois, today told the House Sub-Committee on Immigration, at the opening of hearings on his bill providing for the admission of 400,000 DP’s at the rate of 100,000 annually, using unfilled war-time quotas.
Rep. Stratton, who was the only witness to appear today because of the lengthy questioning by committee members, listed the non-repatriable DP’s in Europe at 850,000. Of these 80 percent are Christians, while the others are Jewish, “most of whom are going, or live in the hope of going, to Palestine,” he said.
He appended to his prepared testimony eight exhibits which list some 90 national labor, veterans, religious, women’s, social and welfare organizations representing over 40 million people, who support immigration of DP’s to the United States; editorials, magazine articles and newspaper columns, local citizens committees and prominent citizens supporting his bill.
COMMITTEE MEMBER SAYS U.S. HAS NO OBLIGATION TO DP’S
Strong opposition to the bill was voiced by Rep. Ed Gossett, Democrat of Texas, who contended that the United States bore no responsibility for DP’s. “Because we fought the war to liberate these folks,” he asked Rep. Stratton, “do you mean to say we have to take them over here?” Gossett cited opposition of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars to any increased immigration.
Stratton replied that as a member of both organizations, he did not believe that the views of the heads of the two groups always represent the views of a substantial number of the members. Gossett retorted that if Stratton could gain the support of the Legion and the VFW, “I’ll vote for your bill.” Throughout the hearing he reiterated that this country has no obligation to let the alien enter. “This is our country,” he said.
Stratton emphasized that his bill does not by-pass existing immigration laws, which, with their screening tests and usual requirements, would apply to the DP’s seeking entrance to the United States. Pointing out that certain classes are “temporarily non-quota within the framework of the quota laws,” he said that his measure would make “a limited number of DP’s non-quota for a limited period of time.” Of the 2,500,000 available quota numbers from 1930 to 1946, Stratton said, only 559,000 were used. He cited the admission by Sweden of 41,000 refugees between 1939 and 1944, and said that if the U.S. had “furnished refuge on a similar scale and in the same proportion to our population, 850,000 refugees would have come to the U.S.”
Attacking the argument that DP’s would compete with Americans for available jobs, Stratton presented letters supporting his bill from A.F.L. president William Green and C.I.O. president Philip Murray. He introduced into the record lists of refugees who are Nobel prize winners, and several hundred refugees named in “Who’s ?o in America” and in “American Men of Science.”
Stratton said that international cooperation is impractical and peace uncertain unless the U.S. “takes its fair share of the DP’s.” Under questioning by Rep. Frank Fellows, Republican of Maine, chairman of the sub-committee, he said it was regret table” that Canada, Australia and South African had not yet accepted a share of the DP’s, but insisted that the U.S. must take the lead and set the example for other countries. He argued that the DP’s would fill still existing man-power shortages and would stimulate growth of the nation which, he asserted, is in danger of being far outstripped by Russia.
Gossett expressed objection to the exclusion from the terms of the bill of the Volksdeutsch,” declaring that “the Germans driven from the Sudetenland are just as such DP’s as any other person in our occupied zone.” Suggesting abolition of the DP camps, Gossett said that the U.S. maintains soup lines for the Germans and “why can’t the DP’s get in those lines too?”
When the committee resumes the hearing on Friday, it will hear Assistant Secretary of State John H. Hilldring, Rep. Noah Mason of Illinois and the Rev. Samuel ?cCrea Cavert, general secretary of the Federal Council of Churches of Christ.
UNRRA DIRECTOR SAYS DISPLACED JEWS CONSIDER EUROPE “A GRAVEYARD”
Declaring that he favors any plan to get displaced persons out of camps in Germany and Austria, Major General Lowell Rooks, Director General of UNRRA, today told a press conference that there are still about 170,000 displaced Jews in UNRRA camps and that they consider Europe “a graveyard” which they are anxious to leave.
Voicing support of the Stratton Bill, Gen. Rooks said that the United States, just as any other country, must do its share in taking displaced persons who cannot or will not be repatriated.”
Rooks said the British Government has not yet replied to an UNRRA letter assuring the British that neither UNRRA officials nor employees were in any way aiding the alleged illegal immigration of Jewish displaced persons through Italy. Early in April representatives of the British Government charged that UNRRA was linked with or aiding the movement of the Jewish refugees toward Palestine. Rooks today added, however, that the British Government had ceased their attacks on UNRRA on this point.
Rooks was “quite certain” that the estimated $160,000,000 yearly budget for operation of the International Refugee Organization “will not suffice” unless the number of refugees are reduced considerably. He added that if the IRO does not begin to function by June 30, the central committee of UNRRA may recommend that the camps continue to operate for a short while after that date. He estimated that UNRRA funds were sufficient to keep the camps open another two months after the end of June.