State Dept. Confirms Listing Jews As Such in Visa Applications
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State Dept. Confirms Listing Jews As Such in Visa Applications

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Jews are being listed as such on visa applications because of “present laws” and this practice has nothing to do with the McCarran-Walter Omnibus Immigration Act which goes into effect December 24, a State Department spokesman said today. The Department could not however provide the name or statute number of any “present” law requiring such information.

Meanwhile, correspondence was revealed in which the Government said it could not delete visa questions requiring identification of Jews because of the McCarran-Walter Act. Although the State Department denied there was any connection between the identification of Jews and the new immigration act, the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation League received a letter mailed July 18 from the office of the Director of the Bureau of the Budget which said the Act prevented the deletion of the listing in question. The letter, from James F. Barrie, assistant to the director of the bureau which is a part of the Executive Office of President Truman, said:

“It has been our general policy in reviewing forms under the Federal Reports Act of 1942 not to permit, where discretion is allowed us, references on application blanks to race, religion, ethnic origin, or other personal characteristics of the applicant which might invite suspicion of possible discriminatory action in consideration of the application. However, the Bureau of the Budget cannot act in relation to such items if there is statutory authority requiring it.

“As you know,” the letter continued “the Congress recently enacted the Immigration and Nationality Act of June 27, 1952 (McCarran-Walter Act.) Sections 222(A and 222(C) require that in the application for his visa an alien should state, among other things, ‘his race and ethnic classification.’ In view of this specific statutory requirement, the Bureau of the Budget has no authority to direct the deletion you request.”


The State Department cited a letter written by Herve J. L’Heureux, chief of the Visa Division, as definitive of the policy on the listing of Jews. The letter was addressed to Herman Edelsberg. Director of the Washington office of the Anti-Defamation League. Mr. L’Heureux had been asked about the typing in of the word “Hebrew” in the space provided on visa forms for the answer to the question of “Race.”

The visa chief replied that the mere listing of races, such as white, black, and others was unsatisfactory for “statistical purposes” because “it would ignore the various national, geographical and ethnological origin and characteristics deemed necessary to be reflected in visa statistics.”

Mr. L’Heureux said that “as an example, the question of the statistical classification of descendants of the ancient German tribe ‘Teutones’ may be considered. These people are of the white race, but their racial strain is characteristic of the inhabitants of Northern and Western Europe including England, Germany, Denmark, and Norway. To classify them for statistical purposes merely as ‘white’ or ‘caucasian’ would be insufficient. Likewise, to classify the people of Southern and Eastern Europe and the Near East as ‘white’ would be of no practical value from a statistical point of view.”

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