WASHINGTON (Jun. 8)
The opinion that the refugee relief program should be handled by a special administrator of the program as a social welfare function, rather than as a police function under the State Department Bureau of Security and Consular Affairs, was expressed today by a number of witnesses before a Senate Immigration Subcommittee which is now holding hearings on amendments to the Refugee Relief Act of 1953.
Senator Herbert H. Lehman compared President Eisenhower’s amendments to the refugee program, which have been introduced by Senator Arthur V. Watkins, with those of his own bill. The Senator cited two “vital” differences, one pertaining to the administrative set-up and the other to the use of the unused visa numbers. Senator Lehman said that his bill proposes to create an administrator of the program directly responsible to the Secretary of State and free from subservience to any State Department bureau. The administration of the program should not be tied to the “police and review functions” of the Bureau of Security and Consular Affairs, he stated.
The second difference Senator Lehman cited referred to the reallocation of unused visas. He said that unused numbers would be reallocated among those groups which have “the greatest need for visas,” instead of utilizing unused numbers for a world-wide orphan pool, as the Watkins Bill proposes.
G. Mennen Williams, Governor of Michigan, endorsed nine suggestions developed by the Michigan Commission on Displaced Persons and Refugees and the Michigan Committee on Immigration. One of the proposals to amend the Refugee Relief Act stated that the “administration of the Act should be in the hands of a special commission or commissioner. This is essentially a social welfare operation not a police or security operation.”
David Carliner, Washington attorney who presented the American Veterans Committee testimony, urged that the administration of the Refugee Act be taken away from State Department security chief Scott McLeod. Crete Anderson, chairman of the American Legion’s national immigration advisory committee, opposed liberalizing changes in the refugee program which he referred to as “the lowering of standards and safeguards as proposed in the bills under consideration by this subcommittee.”