WASHINGTON (Feb. 11)
Congress was told today that because of “many obstacles,” it was impossible to foretell how many refugees could be admitted into this country under the Administration’s program to aid refugees and meet the European over-population problem.
This warning was contained in a report by R. W. Scott McLeod, Administrator of the Bureau of Security and Consular Affairs of the State Department, who has responsibility for the refugee program. His report, dated January 30, was made public today by the House Judiciary Committee.
The McLeod report gave no figures on the number of refugees admitted to date under the Refugee Relief Act of 1953, which President Eisenhower signed into law last August.
(A State Department spokesman said the records have not yet been pulled together by any central agency. The Washington Post yesterday charged that the Refugee Relief Act was a “hoax” and a “dismal failure” because only four persons had been admitted to the U.S. under its provisions in six months. The newspaper urged President Eisenhower to expedite administration of the measure by “giving a sharp prod” to Mr. McLeod.)
OPPOSITION OF FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS CITED
Mr. McLeod cited as one of the major “obstacles” to the administration of the Act, the refusal of some governments to accept one of its stipulations, namely, that guarantees be given that refugees will be admitted back in their countries of origin if the U.S. discovers that a visa was obtained by fraud.
The report said that only Italy, Greece and the Netherlands have agreed to issue the required certificates. These countries will supply only a small portion of the 209,000 who are to be admitted under the Act.
Mr. McLeod said that even if U.S. citizens do sign the required assurances that they will guarantee housing employment and support for the refugee, “it will not be possible to say how many of such aliens will be found qualified” under the terms of the law.
He warned further that any increase in U.S. unemployment, “slackening of draft calls or a recession in commerce, industry or agriculture” will make it “more difficult” for refugees to be admitted. Despite these “imponderables,” Mr. McLeod said that the Administration “assumes” all 209,000 visas under the program will be granted by the December 31, 1956, deadline. Mr. McLeod gave this timetable for the admission of refugees: 15,000 by June 30, 1954; 65,000 between July 1, 1954 and June 30, 1955; 82,000 between July 1, 1955 and June 30, 1956; and 47,000 between July 1, 1956 and December 31, 1956.