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United Hias Director Testifies at Senate Body on Refugees from Cuba

Some 2,000 Cuban Jewish refugees in the United States have been aided by the United Hias Service during the past year, a Senate subcommittee was told today.

James P. Rice, United Hias executive director, in a statement made at a hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Refugees and Escapees, said that as a result of his organization’s emergency program of aid to Cuban Jewish refugees, United Hias will close its fiscal year “with a substantial deficit, since we have been unable to obtain all the necessary additional funds from our contributors over and above our planned 1961 budget of $2,300,000.

Mr. Rice said that the Cuban refugee program has thus far cost Hias over $400,000. He told the Senate committee that of the 2,000 Cuban Jews processed by the Hias staff, about one-third are still in Miami “and the balance in 96 other communities in 29 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.”

Mr. Rice lauded the Miami Jewish community for its work on behalf of Cuban Jewish refugees which he said has “been giving indispensable service to large numbers of Jewish refugees.” He said that in carrying out its Cuban refugee program, the United Hias regards Miami, Florida, primarily as a port of entry and a temporary haven from which the newcomers should be resettled in other communities as soon as possible after their arrival.

The United Hias service executive gave highest praise to the Visa Office of the State Department and to the Immigration and Naturalization Service of the Justice Department “for their truly humanitarian handling of a serious refugee problem.” He expressed appreciation to the Department of Health, Education and Welfare for its vital role in handling “the large burden which it has assumed.” He also paid tribute to the member agencies of the Miami Jewish Federation, to the New York Association for New Americans, and to the other Jewish resettlement agencies throughout the country “without whose active and real cooperation United Hias Service could not have done its work.”

Arthur Rosichan, director of the Miami Jewish Federation, told the Senate Subcommittee that in view of the extent of the Cuban refugee program, the Miami Jewish Federation was unable to handle the problem as a purely local matter. United Hias Service, therefore, had to be called upon for supplementary funds, in addition to setting up resettlement, and port and dock services.

In other testimony today, Seymour Samet of Miami, southeast director of the American Jewish Committee, urged immediate establishment of a community relations service for Cuban refugees as a means of countering growing and potentially serious “intergroup tensions.” Mr. Samet told the Senate group that the large influx of Cuban refugees into Florida’s Dade County, which encompasses Miami has provided “a convenient scapegoat for Miami’s ills.”

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