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Refugees Constitute No Competition to American Labor, Investigations Show

August 17, 1941
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Declaring that a minority of Congressmen prejudiced against Jews and aliens are actually responsible for the recent regulations which practically close the doors of the United States to refugees, Kenneth G. Crawford, Washington correspondent of the New York newspaper, PM, today points out in an article that several studies have established that the refugees constitute no danger of competition to American labor and that recent refugees have brought with them whole industries that will supply goods previously imported from Europe.

“The malignant political disease known as anti-Semitism has attacked a larger number of Congressmen than is generally realized,” Mr. Crawford writes. “The very fact that they talk about the “Jewish problem” in relation to immigration – as they do behind closed committee doors if not in public–is a symptom. A few Congressmen, particularly Southern Congressmen, indulge in Jew-baiting because they consider it politically smart. Look what good use Hitler made of it. Hore of them, like Representative Martin Dies of Texas and Senator Robert Reynolds of North Carolina, bait aliens of all faiths. It is a form of demagoguery that goes well with their constituents.

“The oversimplified argument that every immigrant who comes into the USA is an American’s rival for employment is the sort of thing politicians most fear. The answer that the amount of immigration from Germany even since the war started is negligible, that most of those admitted have non-competitive skills or learning, that they can make a valuable contribution both economically and culturally to the USA is too complicated for political usefulness.

“Several studies of immigrants in recent years have shown how unreal the danger of competition from them is. An analysis of 1,000 typical cases showed that more than half were women, children or aged persons without occupation. Of the rest, 147 were merchants whose new enterprises were opening employment opportunities, 78 were professional men. Out of the whole group, only six were unskilled workers. Recent refugees from Germany and the Low Countries have brought with them whole industries and skills that will supply goods previously imported from Europe.

During fiscal 1940, only about 57,500 quota visas were issued. Less than half of these about 25,000 came from Germany and what used to be Austria.”

Commenting on the attitude of the State and Labor Department officials to the refugee problem, Mr. Crawford says:

“All these facts about the refugees are well known to the State and Labor Department officials who administer the immigration laws. Most of these officials, particularly in the Labor Department, are sympathetic with the organizations trying to help the refugees. Yet pitifully little is done about it. The callousness and, in some cases, the alleged anti-Semitism of State Department bureaucrats, have been blamed for this. More likely, their hesitancy to take bold measures within the law stems from a desire to get along pleasantly with Congressman.

“Arva Warren, chief of the State Department’s visa division, has been aggravatingly deliberate in handling refugee matters. There have been bitter complaints against Consuls Leland B. Morris in Berlin and James B. Stewart in Zurich. At one point the consuls were so far behind the President’s committee in their work that refugee organizations all but gave up in despair. But they have fought doggedly for admittance of the few who can qualify and have a few thousand transplanted families to show for their effort.”

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