Details of a plan to bring to the United States thousands of displaced persons from Europe and train them as industrial workers in Queddy Village, Maine, for later immigration to permanent homes in Latin American countries, were revealed at a press conference here today by Frank Cohen, New York Jewish industrialist, who is the promoter of the plan.
The plan, Mr. Cohen said, provides for securing temporary U.S. visas for 25,000 DP families, of whom eighty-five percent will be Jews and fifteen percent Greeks and Czechs. It is planned to bring in 5,000 families this year at the rate of 1,000 per month and later accelerate the rate of immigration to bring in the remaining 20,000 families by June, 1948. Family units will consist of husbands, wives and their children only.
The displaced persons are to be selected on the basis of their willingness to settle in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil, where they will obtain permanent residence and work in local industries under an arrangement reached by Mr. Cohen with the respective governments of these countries. They will enter the United States for a peried of six to nine months, after which they will leave for South America.
“The criteria for selection of DP’s shall be their desire and aptitude, their physical and mental fitness for a vocation in the South American countries, either as farmer, dairyman or cattle raiser, as mechanic, carpenter, plumber or printer, as nurse, doctor, pharmacist, as chemical, electrical or mechanical engineer, as worker in shoe, clothing, shirts, sweaters, hosiery and leather industries or as worker in fish and meat cannery, jam and candy industry,” Mr. Cohen said, adding: “A task force of 500 families shall be admitted at once to prepare Quoddy for the first 1,000 families. It shall be set up as a skeleton unit which the future arrivals shall fill in.”
TRUMAN OFFERS HIS SUPPORT; STATE DEPARTMENT WILL GRANT VISAS
A special meeting of President Truman and the Senators from Maine, who are sponsoring the project, was held in the White House and the President gave his approval and offered his support, Mr. Cohen reported. “The President agreed to issue a directive to urge and hasten the cooperation of all government departments and has designated an administrative sceretary for this purpose,” he said.
Mr. Cohen emphasized that “the State Department will furnish the visas for entrance either as transit, or for trainees” and will also give its active support before all other government departments. It has appointed a special deputy for this purpose, Mr. Cohen revealed.
Meetings have also been held with high officers of the Army which is to be responsible for the transferring of the displaced families. According to Mr. Cohen, arrangements are being made for the Secretary of War to instruct the occupation authorities to push the project. The Maritime Commission has been requested to make available shipping space, in addition to that which will be provided by Army transports.
Pointing out that the project does not involve the government in any way nor obligate it to support the DP’s during their training period, and that refugees will be made to feel independent during their stay at Quoddy Village, Mr. Cohen said that the displaced families will be trained in 20 occupations in light and heavy industry and agriculture.
Mr. Cohen revealed that he had discussed the project with members of the cabinets of Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. When they reach these countries, the placed families trained at Quoddy Village will have to apply for citizenship under national laws. While in Quoddy Village, the DP’s will receive a weekly wage for ?ir work. They will work five days a week on two five-hour shifts. The War Assets Administration is expected to furnish the plants with necessary equipment and manery.
Mr. Cohen said that as soon as the War Assets Administration approves the ?sfer of Quoddy Village to the jurisdiction of the city of Eastport, Maine, all steps necessary to get the plan into operation will be undertaken.