The State Department has issued instructions to all consuls abroad to give preference in granting new visas to all those immigrants holding visas issued previously to the enactment of the new immigration bill, according to Immigration Commissioner-General W.W. Husband in a conference here today with Mr. Joseph Barondess, Vice-President of the American Jewish Congress.
Mr. Barondess called upon the Immigration Commissioner-General to discuss with him the situation of the several thousand Jewish refugees holding American visas stranded in various ports abroad. Mr. Barondess reminded the Immigration Commissioner-General of his promise given at the International Immigration Conference in
Rome to a Jewish Delegation that he would see to it that special consideration be given to these unfortunate refugees. In reply, Mr. Husband stated that with the exception of the resolution, adopted by Congress for those immigrants who had actually embarked previous to the enactment of the law, Congress has made no provision for the other stranded refugees. The Government is now powerless to do anything in the matter unless Congress, when it reconvenes next December, will adopt a resolution making special provision for these stranded immigrants. In order to bring this situation to the attention of Congress, Immigration Commissioner-General Husband promised to make special reference to this matter in the annual report of the Department of Labor which will be issued in November. He also called attention to the fact that according to the new law, all those stranded immigrants who are either wives or children under eighteen of American citizens are exempt from the quota and can obtain admission without difficulty.
In an interview with the correspondent of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Immigration Commissioner-General Husband said, however, that whether Congress will take action to relieve the situation is very conjectural, in view of the restrictive attitude already manifested. He thought, however, that a great deal depends upon the number of those affected and the information which would be furnished to the authorities. So far there is no official record of the situation of the refugees. He said that the delegation in Rome told him they possessed a list of 7,159 Russian immigrants alone, not all of whom were Jews, who obtained visas during the past year but were prevented from proceeding because of the quota being exhausted. Part of this list has been transmitted to him. Mr. Husband declared, and he has gone over it. This reveals that there are very few close relatives, the majority of relatives being restricted to uncles, cousins, nephews and a few brothers and sisters. One difficulty, he said, that will have to be faced in any proposed relief legislation will be the fear that not only those holding visas will ask for such relief, but also those who hold prepaid steamship tickets, especially on United States lines. One steamship company informed him, Commissioner Husband stated, that they had sold fifty thousand prepaid steamship tickets which could not be used because of exhaustion of the quotas. These prospective immigrants are now demanding refunds and this particular steamship company had asked Mr. Husband for remedial legislation to admit these aliens. He had no information yet with regard to the extent to which the Government-owned steamship lines were affected. Mr. Husband pointed out that the argument of those holding government steamship tickets would be still stronger as they had paid the United States Government the money.
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