Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Roosevelt Urged to Cancel New Visa Restrictions

July 23, 1941
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

An appeal to President Roosevelt to use the powers granted him by the Congress to wipe out the “intolerable injustice” of the State Department’ a new policy of denying visas to refugees who have relatives in Germany, Italy or the Nazi-controlled countries, is made in this week’s issue of the Nation in an article by Freda Kirchwey, the editor.

Miss Kirchwey charges that “this cruel, indiscriminate exclusion act was put through in the form of a ruling by the Vise Division, headed by one of the most reactionary, fascist-minded members of the department, Avra W. Warren.” “It was put through,” Miss Kirohwey charges, “without consultation with Sumner Welles, the acting Secretary of State, without the knowledge of the Department of Justice, and without the consent of the President.

“The excuse concocted by the Visa Division was ingenious,” the article says. “It announced that refugees with relatives left in German-controlled territory were forced to act as Nazi agents in order to save their kinsmen from reprisals. This is a good story with which to win popular support for a brutal and unjust restriction; nobody wants Nazi spies and agents turned loose in the United States. The only flaw in the story is its absolute lack of verification. Two weeks ago The Nation asked the State Department to cite a single instance of the coerced espionage it pretends it is protecting us from. No answer has come yet.”

The article asserts that “the State Department story is a canard.” It points out that by two recent acts of Congress the President has been given almost unlimited power over the entrance and departure of both aliens and citizens. “Under these laws he can certainly establish regulations which overrule or modify any existing departmental orders-especially orders issued without the knowledge or consent of the higher responsible officials and without legislative sanction. He should promptly demand a full report from the Department of Justice, as well as the Department of State, on the circumstances which allegedly made the new restrictions necessary,” Miss Kirchwey demands.

Recommended from JTA