WASHINGTON (Jun. 10)
The House began debate today on the Fellows bill to admit 200,000 displaced persons during the nest two years.
Leading the opposition to the bill during the three hours of sharp debate was Rep. Ed Gossett of Texas. Attempts to secure its passage were spear-headed by Rep. Frank L. Chelf of Kentucky.
Gossett maintained that “if the DP’s are worth anything to us, they are worth more to their home countries. If they are no asset to their home countries they would be no asset to us. We need them less than any other nation on earth.” There are ten million good Germans more displaced, more distressed and more in need than the DP’s.” Gossett asserted.
Rep. Chelf, a member of the House Foreign Affairs sub-committee that made a study of displaced persons camps last summer, said he thought the bill was a “fair, honest, equitable approach” to the problem. He bitterly attacked charges that the DP’s are “all Communists, all Jews, all black’ marketers, all criminals or unclean and unkempt.”
Only 23 percent of the DP’s are Jewish, he pointed out. “We are to blame, the I.R.O. is to blame, the Congress is to blame,” if the DP’s are in the black market, he stated. Showing to House members examples of handiwork that had been made in DP camps, he explained that the DP’s had to get the materials by bartering cigarettes. “I’ve never seen a people who do so much with so little,” he exclaimed.
Reps. Javits and Kersten said they regretted that the racial issue had been injected into consideration of the bill. “It’s too bad people have to apologize because there are Jewish DP’s in the camps,” Javits said.
An amendment offered by Rep, Karl Stefan of Nebraska to include persons “who fled their countries for fear of persecution because of the overthrow of their governments” was adopted by a vote of 75 to 52.Another amendment offered by Rep. Charles Clason of Massachusetts to admit Polish soldiers who fought with U.S. troops was defeated by a vote of 78 to 60.
DP CAMPS FILLED WITH “SCUM OF EUROPE.” REP. COX MAINTAINS
Rep. Ellsworth Foote of Connecticut said the Fellows Bill, while not as liberal as the Stratton bill that would have admitted 400,000 DP’s, was “a fair compromise between those who would let down the bars entirely and those who would completely restrict immigration.”
Rep. John Lesinski of Michigan criticized a section of the bill that would mortgage the 200,000 quota numbers against future quotas of the refugees’ countries of origin. He said it would endanger the right of future generations to immigrate to the United States.
At the opening of the three-hour general debate, Rep. E.E. Cox of Georgia charged that the DP camps are filled with “the scum of the whole of Europe” who do not work are unwilling to work.He said the camps were “hotbeds of revolutionists” and that to pass the bill weald “bring in hordes of people who identify themselves with people who are creating so many disturbances and causing so much trouble here.”
Rep. Herbert Ellis of West Virginia charged that “an alert minority has whipped up propaganda to do incomparable harm to our immigration laws.” Rep. Thomas A. Jenkins of Ohio said he would “tell England, France and Italy that ‘this is your problem.’ We’ll send you the money, but you take care of these people.”