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Jewish Groups Hail Truman Directive on Refugees, Offer Aid to Speed Immigration

December 24, 1945
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

American Jewish organizations today welcomed President Truman’s order releasing the nearly 1,000 refugees at Fort Ontario and instructing various government departments to facilitate the immigration from Europe of displaced persons under existing quotas. The services of trained immigration specialists were offered to the government to speed release of the Oswego refugees, to aid in preparing displaced persons for emigration to the United States, and to assist them once they arrive.

The National Refugee Service issued a statement pointing out that a broad program of aid awaits the newcomers. Prof. Joseph Chamberlain, chairman of the board of the NRS, pledged that through this program every effort would be made to prevent the newcomers from becoming a public financial burden, and to bring about their geographic distribution throughout the country so that their adjustment to American life would be speeded. One of the first projects to be undertaken by NRS will be the resettlement of the refugees from Oswego. Many communities have agreed to accept quotas of these refugees, and some of them already have funds earmarked for the purpose, the NRS said.

Mrs. Joseph M. Welt, president of the National Council of Jewish Women, in a telegram hailing the Truman directive as “an example to other countries of the world,” offered the services of the organization’s social work immigration experts in this country, and the members of its units overseas. The latter, Mrs. Welt pointed out, could assist government representatives in the American zone of occupation.

In a telegram to President Truman, Joseph Proskauer, president of the American Jewish Committee, said that “by this action our country will make a genuine contribution towards alleviating the sufferings of the survivors of Nazism and Fascism who are in need of immediate resettlement and rehabilitation.” The President’s order, Judge Proskauer added, will “demonstrate to other nations that the United States is ready to take the lead in the great humanitarian task of reconstituting the lives of those who suffered most.”


The President’s order contained specific directives to the Secretaries of War and State, the Attorney General, the Director General of UNRRA, the War Shipping Administrator, and the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service to facilitate the task of bringing the displaced persons from Europe by sending representatives of their departments to the American zone of occupation. He also suggested the formation of an inter-departmental committee, under the chairmanship of the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization, to coordinate the work of the various government agencies involved.

Mr. Truman stressed that the immigrants, of whom a maximum of 3,900 will be admitted monthly, would enter under existing quota regulations. He also pointed out that the quotas which were unfilled during the war years are not cumulative, and added that he did not plan to ask Congress to authorize their use. Most of the immigrants, he said, would come from central and eastern Europe and the Balkans. The President expressed the desire that as many of the visas as possible be issued to orphaned children.

He said he believed responsible welfare organizations “will guarantee that these children will not become public charges.” Similar guarantees have been or will be made on behalf of adults, he added. “Relatives or organizations will also advance the necessary visa fees and travel fare,” he stated. “Where the necessary funds for travel fare and visa fees have not been advanced by a welfare organization or relative, the individual applicant must meet these costs. In this way the transportation of these immigrants will not cost the American taxpayers a single dollar.”

The President took cognizance of the many anti-immigration measures before Congress, and said that “I hope that such legislation will not be passed.”

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