Washington (Jun. 20)
No more than 60,000 displaced Jews from the American zones of Germany and Austria would emigrate to the United States if Congress eases immigration restrictions, since the majority still desire to settle in Palestine, Rabbi Philip S. Bernstein, advisor on Jewish affairs to the American military command in Germany, testified today before the House Sub-Committee on Immigration, which is holding hearings on the Stratton Bill, which would allow 100,000 DP’s to enter annually for four years.
Rabbi Bernstein flew here from Germany at the request of the State and War Departments to testify on the bill. He emphasized that the approximately 225,000 displaced Jews in Germany, Austria and Italy “cannot return whence they fled.” He urged a decision by Congress permitting the United States to participate in “an early, reasonable program of settlement” of the DP problem, warning that otherwise the people in the camps will be doomed to another winter of blighting uncertainty and inability to help themselves.
Before Rabbi Bernstein began his testimony, Rep. Ed Gossett, of Texas, asked him why General Lucius D. Clay should have an advisor on Jewish affairs and not one on Polish, French and other affairs. Pointing to the “very special and delicate character” of the problem, Rabbi Bernstein said that President Truman and General Eisenhower felt that it required the advice of some responsible, experienced Jew to guide the military in caring for the Jewish DP’s.
JEWISH GROUPS WOULD KEEP DP’S FROM BECOMING PUBLIC CHARGES
Rabbi Bernstein told the committee that Jewish organizations are ready to guarantee that the displaced Jews admitted to the United States would not become a public burden. He said that the 60,000 refugees who wish to come to the United States want to join their relatives here, and also see in the American way of life the “best hope for freedom and justice.” He assured the committee members Jewish DP’s would make good citizens.
Listing a great variety of labor skills among the displaced Jews, Rabbi Bernstein said that tailors comprise about fifteen percent of the total. There are also substantial numbers of carpenters, painters, textile workers, shoe workers and agricultural workers among them, he stated. “They have all shown the moral and physical stamina necessary to survive and rebuild their lives if given an opportunity,” he declared.
“The decision,” he said, “narrows down either to merely prolonging the existence of the displaced persons in the camps, primarily at the expense of the United States, or to an early reasonable program of settlement in which this country would take a part to enable these DP’s to resume life in a normal atmosphere.”
In the questioning which followed Dr. Bernstein’s reading of his prepared statement, Rep. Gossett asked him if 80 percent of the Jewish DP’s had not come into the camps after the war ended. Goldthwaite Dorr, a lialson official between the State Department and Congress on the DP question, interposed to say that 80 to 90 percent were in the camps at the end of the war. The exceptions, he said, are the persecutees who came in after the pogrem in Kielce, Poland, last year.
Rep. Gossett asked how many Christians the Hazis had exterminated. Dr. Bernstein replied that the number was great, but that the highest percentage was among the Jews. He explained that he was not asking special consideration for the Jewish DP’s, but only consideration for them as part of a reasonable program of resettlement. Gossett then asked whether he had any evidence of the liquidation of any DP’s who were repatriated. Bernstein replied that the Jewish people feel that the return to Poland of any substantial number would precipitate the same pogroms which caused them to flee.
IMMIGRATION COMMISSIONER SUPPORTS BILL ON BEHALF OF JUSTICE DEPT.
Ugo Carusi, Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization, testifying in support of the bill for the Department of Justice, said that 85 percent of the Jewish DP’s wanted to go to Palestine, as evidenced by personal cards they filled out. He said that when he was in Europe, early in 1946, the United States was the minority designation of these DP’s, but that this might have changed to some degree since then. He said that the sooner the DP’s are cut of the camps the better.
Carusi revealed that Attorney General Tom Clark had sent to the committee a favorable report on the Stratton Bill, in which he suggested several amendments. The most important one, he said, would provide for the admission for permanent residence in the U.S. of a maximum of 15,000 persons who may now be here, who meet the general definition of a DP. The amendment specifies payment of a fee of eighteen dollars to record the admission for permanent residence as of the date of last entry into the U.S. of any alien in the country who holds an unexpired immigration visa, if he entered the U.S. before passage of the bill.
In a sharply worded statement the Immigration Commissioner challenged “false and misleading” statements on immigration and cited particularly an address by Paul H. Griffith, national commander of the American Legion to the Daughters of the American Revolution, in Washington on May 22. Carusi said “the actual number of quota immigrants in the fiscal year 1946 is extremely close to the annual average for the past decade, it being 29,095.”
Contesting Griffith’s statement that 154,000 legal immigrants are entering the country annually, Carusi said that the largest number of immigrants to come here in any one of the last ten years was 108,721 in 1946. The annual average in the last decade, he said, is 55,157 of whom the quota immigrats comprise 29,463 and the non-quota 25,694.
The House Judiciary Committee has reported favorably on a bill introduced by Rep. Frank Fellows which would give the Attorney General discretion to stay the deportation of certain aliens. If passed, the bill will give the Atterney General power to stay the deportation of aliens “of good moral character” whose temporary visas have run out, providing they have resided in the United States for five years.