Total 1939 Immigration to U.S. 82,998; Only Half Listed As Hebrews
Menu JTA Search

Total 1939 Immigration to U.S. 82,998; Only Half Listed As Hebrews

Download PDF for this date

Immigration Commissioner James L. Houghteling reported total immigration of 82,998 for the fiscal year ending last June 30 and a relatively slight increase in visitors and transients, which, he said, discounted “sensational stories” of a “flood of alien visitors.” Slightly more than half of the total were listed as Hebrews by the Immigration Bureau.

In his annual report, Houghteling said the number of visitors and transients in 1939 was only a few hundred over that in 1938. “This very small increase,” he declared, “is clear evidence that sensational stories appearing in newspapers and magazines to the effect that a flood of alien visitors are being admitted to this country on any sort of excuse are not based on cold facts nor on the conscientious records of a responsible government agency.”

The figure of 82,998 for permanent immigration was the largest since 1931, Houghteling said. “It is necessary to call attention to the phenomenon of a steady increase in immigration from Central Europe since the German annexation of Austria in March, 1938. The increase in quota immigration from 27,762 in 1937 to 62,402 in 1939 has been largely attributable to the pressure imposed by certain European governments to drive into exile elements of their population uncongenial to the ruling group.”

This increased immigration has become an added burden, the report said, because “it is necessary to check with particular care the travel documents of aliens whose departure from their home countries has been practically an expulsion and whose likelihood of becoming public charges if admitted to the United States must be considered dispassionately in spite of the tragic circumstances.”

Of the 82,998 immigrants, the Immigration Bureau listed 43,450 as Hebrews, of whom 30,096 came from Germany.

Of German immigration the bureau said: “The fact that 32,759 immigrants were admitted from Germany does not mean that the German quota of 27,370 was overissued. Immigration visas are valid for actual admission within four months of their date of issue.”

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund