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Congressmen, Jewish Leaders Hail Mitchell’s Pledge to Aid Soviet Jews

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A dozen members of Congress and officials of leading American Jewish organizations praised Attorney General John Mitchell’s promise to exercise his parole authority to admit to the United States Russian Jews who are able to get out of the Soviet Union. Their remarks were made at a press conference today in the House Office building called jointly by Rep. Emanuel Celler (D., N.Y.) chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and Rep. Edward I. Koch (D., N.Y.) who sponsored legislation to provide 30,000 non-quota visas to admit Soviet Jews to the United States. Koch announced earlier in the day that he would no longer press for passage of his bill because the Attorney General’s pledge has “the same effect.” (See story P.l)

Sen. Clifford Case (R., N.J.). who sponsored a companion bill in the Senate, issued a similar statement today. The press conference was unique in that no questions from the press were permitted. Celler said afterwards that Mitchell “has informed the USSR that he has taken official notice of the desperate plight of the Jews in Russia and has made it clear that our country has not turned away from its traditional humanitarianism.” Mitchell’s promise to exercise his parole authority for Jews able to leave the Soviet Union was contained in a letter he sent Celler on Sept. 30. Case, who was unable to attend the press conference, said in a message to the conference; “What we had tried to accomplish legislatively is now being accomplished administratively and it is a happy solution.” An aide to Case told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the Case Bill would remain in the Senate Judiciary Committee but that “the urgency of the bill is now gone.

The groups represented at the press conference gave Mitchell’s plan their overwhelming endorsement. Jerry Goodman, executive director of the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry and Gaynor Jacobson, executive vice-president of the United Hias Service, told the JTA that they would begin immediately to inform Amberican Jews “how to facilitate the immigration of relatives. especially to the US.” Goodman, who spoke on behalf of Richard Maass, chairman of the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry, said his organization “recognizes the fact that the overwhelming choice of a final destination” by Soviet Jews “is where in fact the great majority of Russian Jewish emigres have already gone.” He added that while recognizing this, “American Jews have also urged that admission be assured for those who might wish to come to this country and we therefore welcome the affirmative declaration by Attorney General Mitchell.”

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