Washington (Jun. 13)
William Green, president of the American Federation of Labor, and former Supreme Court Justice Owen J. Roberts strongly supported the Stratton Bill, providing for the admittance to the U.S. of 400,000 DP’s over a four-year period, at the resumption today of hearings on the measure by the House Sub-Committee on Immigration.
The AFL president urged that the U.S. take the lead “in opening its doors to the displaced persons, unless we are to make a mockery of the principles for which we fought in World War II.” He said that even if the entire current quotas and all unused quotas from the war years were set aside for the DP’s from each country, this would be far less than necessary for the refugee groups. “It is obvious that if we are to offer sanctuary to the displaced refugees of Europe, we must enact emergency legislation which will temporarily waive the present quota restrictions,” he added.
Green was questioned closely by Rep. Ed Gossett, Texas Democrat, on the possible detrimental effect that the immigration of 100,000 persons a year would have on the unemployment problem. The AFL leader replied that it would have such little eften, in view of the fact that over half those entering would be women and child and that the whole 400,000 could be admitted in one year without affecting the employment situation. He stressed that there are a number of nurses, doctors and agricultural workers among the DP’s who could fill our urgent manpower shortages in these fields, but urged safeguards to prevent their exploitation as a source of cheap labor.
The president of the American Federation of Labor touched upon the situation of the Jews in Europe. “The continental European Jews,” he said, “were subjected to the most extreme scourge of anti-Semitism and organized violence ever perpetrated upon their race. From 1933 to the present less than 200,000 Jewish refugees managed to enter the U.S. while 6,000,000 Jews were exterminated by Hitler.” He added that “it is ironical that two years after V-E Day the unfortunate Jews who bore the brunt of Nazi barbarity have neither home nor country.”
ADMISSION OF DP’S IS “MORAL OBLIGATION” OF U.S., JUSTICE ROBERTS SAYS
Justice Roberts vigorously urged enactment of the Stratton Bill as “a moral obligation” of the U.S. He expressed his “really passionate desire that my country should do something” to uphold its democratic traditions to give the DP’s the moral right to “pursuit of happiness.”
He compared the DP’s to the pioneer settlers of this country and said that his own ancestors fled to the U.S. to escape religious persecution. Justice Roberts expressed the certainty that “if the U.S. makes a great gesture,” other countries will follow. He referred specifically to South American countries in this connection. He said that entrance of the DP’s would not strain the national economy, since most of them would be merged with families already here.
Under questioning by committee members on the role of the IRO, Justice Roberts said that this was “piecemeal” and would not solve the DP problem. He voiced opposition to any change in the immigration laws at this time, but said there “are terrifically serious implications,” if this country turns its back on people looking for asylum.
Others who testified in favor of the bill were Bishop William T. Mulloy, president of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference and Charles Rozmarek, president of the Polish American Congress. The only witness to oppose the measure was Charles E. Babcock, of the Junior Order of United American Mechanics.