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Closing of Trinidad to Refugees Creates Serious Situation in Emigrant Aid

January 13, 1939
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While seeking to iron out the difficulties of 37 refugees stopping here en route to Peru and 10 en route to the Dominican Republic, the National Coordinating Committee for Aid to Refugees and Emigrants Coming from Germany today found a new serious situation created by the Action of Trinidad in closing its doors to refugees.

A special proclamation of the Governor and executive Council of the British West Indian Island declares that after Jan. 15 all aliens who left Central Europe within the past two years are to be considered “undesirable immigrants” and will not be admitted until further notice.

The proclamation will create difficulties for many refugees who have booked passage to Trinidad as far ahead as July, it was said by Miss Cecilia Razovsky, director of the Coordinating Committee. A number of refugees are now on their way to the island, she said, and efforts are being made to insure that the proclamation will not be made retroactive. There are at present 450 refugees in Trinidad, Miss Razovsky said. They are faced with a shortage of housing facilities, but the Joint Distribution Committee has agreed to make provision for them.

The Coordinating Committee has also appealed to the Dominican Republic not to apply retroactively a decree requiring a $500 tax of all immigrants with one-way passports–which means German Jews. Ten Austrian refugees, who arrived in New York on the S.S. Gerolstein on Jan. 2 en route to the West Indian Republic, are remaining here while the committee tries to assist them. They had already sent their personal belongings to Santo Domingo. All ten have filed certificates with the immigration authorities for permission to remain in the United States.

The difficulties of 37 refugees who arrived here on the Chilean liner Imperial yesterday en route to Peru were temporarily settled today. They had feared that their visas would permit them to remain in Peru only 48 hours, but when their documents were examined this morning, it was discovered they had tourist visas.

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