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State, Interior Departments Confer on Virgin Islands Plan

December 4, 1940
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The State and Interior Departments are still conferring in an effort to iron out differences of opinion on the proposal to open the Virgin Islands as a temporary haven for refugees intending to emigrate to the United States and other American countries, it was learned today.

Interior Department officials were understood to be contending that the island’s peculiar status under the immigration laws made it possible to admit refugees for temporary residence under a Governor’s proclamation and without visa, while the State Department’s legal staff took the position that the regular immigration process would have to be followed.

Rep. Emanuel Celler has introduced a bill which would authorize establishment of temporary havens for refugees in the United States and its possessions.

Circles interested in the Virgin Islands proposal said they expected no slackening in the “excellent cooperation” between the island authorities and the Interior Department officials in this matter as a result of the expected succession of Robert Morss Lovett, Government Secretary, to the post of Acting Governor. Lovett will take over the reins of administration when the resignation of Governor Lawrence Cramer, announced today, becomes effective at the end of the year.

However, a possible complication arose in capital discussions of the possibility that a naval officer may be appointed to the Governor’s post in the interest of national defense.

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