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Sen. Watkins Reports to Eisenhower on Arab Refugee Situation

December 2, 1953
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Sen. Arthur V. Watkins, chairman of the Senate Immigration Subcommittee, today called on President Eisenhower at the White House and expressed alarm to the President over the Arab refugee situation. Sen. Watkins said on emerging from the President’s office that the problem of the Arab refugees in Arab states adjacent to Israel was “one of the hottest” in the world and stressed that because of American support of Israel, America’s stock in the Arab world “is not very high now.”

Sen. Watkins, who returned yesterday from an extended trip to Europe and the Near East to investigate the operation of the McCarran-Walter Immigration Act, said he did not see any emergency now existing which required revision of the Act. He said that emergency relief to areas troubled by population pressures was provided through the Emergency Refugee Act of 1953. The first visa under the new Act, he said, would be issued shortly in Italy.

Practically all consular officers are satisfied with the mechanics of the McCarran Walter Act, Sen. Watkins reported. He did not say whether he thought any changes in immigration policy were needed at this time but did point out that he did not see any emergency requiring legislation to revise the McCarran-Walter Act.

Describing the situation of Arab refugees, Sen. Watkins said a majority of such Arabs did not want to come to the United States but that there would be no trouble filling the quota of 2,000 provided in the 1953 Act to admit 214,000 immigrants in the next three years. There are plenty of Arabs in refugee camps who would want to come to the United States, he said, giving the opinion that the quota of 2,000 could be filled in Lebanon alone.

The Immigration Subcommittee chairman described the plight of the Palestine Arab refugees to the President and also gave Mr. Eisenhower the benefit of his findings on the operation of the McCarran-Walter Act. Previously, Sen. Watkins wrote the President a letter in which he said that the Administration was in such a strong position on the immigration issue that the McCarran-Walter legislative revision sought by many groups was not necessary.

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