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State Department Admits Applying Mccarran Law to Visa Applicants

September 11, 1952
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Acting Assistant Secretary of State Ben H. Brown, Jr., said today that information on the ethnic origin of applicants for U.S. visas will continue to be required under sections of the McCarran-Walter Immigration Act. The act does not enter into force until December 24 but for some months Jews applying abroad for U.S. visas have been required to identify themselves as Jews.

In a letter to Rep. Frances B. Bolton, member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, replying to her protest to Secretary of State Dean Acheson against this requirement, Mr. Brown said:

“The facts are that visa application forms will continue to provide a blank space in which an applicant shall state his race, and each visa applicant shall also be required to state his ethnic classification, in accordance with the provisions of Section 222-A and C of the Immigration and Nationality Act (McCarran-Walter Act).

“The forms will not contain a list of races and ethnic classifications from which an alien may select the race or classification which applies to him and, of course. it will be left to each individual applicant to state what he considers to be his race and ethnic classification.”

It was pointed out here that the legal basis for identification of Jewish visa applicants as Jews was stated by Mr. Brown to be the McCarran-Walter Act although the State Department had previously denied this and although this act is not yet in effect.

Immigration attorneys here point out that aliens who fail to provide an “ethnic classification” which satisfies the consular authorities may be arbitrarily denied visas under the new act. The penalty for not telling the truth is to be denied a visa, yet no definition is furnished of what constitutes the various “ethnic classifications.”

In her letter to Secretary Acheson, Mrs. Bolton declared it had not been the intent of Congress in adopting the McCarran-Walter legislation, to provide for the racial identification of Jewish visa applicants and she denounced the ethnic classifications as scientifically unsound. Mrs. Bolton said today that she would closely observe the administrative structure being established by the State Department to process this division of the act.

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