Eight national Jewish agencies issued a statement today announcing receipt of assurances from the State Department that “existing State Department policy does not require questioning of applicants for visas as to whether they are Jewish” and that “where consular officials inquire if applicants are Jewish, they do so without authority and in violation of State Department policy.”
The State Department has asked, according to the statement, “that all such violations which come to our attention be called to the attention of the department so that they may be promptly corrected.”
The statement was based on a communication from Herve J. L’Heureux, chief of the Visa Division, who said that application forms under the McCarran-Walter Immigration Act will not contain a list of races and ethnic classifications, and that it will be left to each individual applicant to state what he considers to be his race and ethnic classification in the blank space provided for that purpose.
(Rep. Emanuel Celler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, in a letter yesterday to Secretary of State Dean Acheson, warned that aliens failing to provide an “ethnic classification” satisfactory to consular authorities “may be arbitrarily denied visas under the new act.”)
GROUPS TO CONFER ON NEW PROCEDURES
The eight organizations-the American Jewish Congress, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS). Jewish Labor Committee, Jewish War Veterans, National Council of Jewish Women, United Service for New Americans, Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the National Community Relations Advisory Council-announced that a committee representing them would “confer with appropriate government officials to insure that the new regulations and instructions now being drafted will in no way require applicants to give information which may facilitate religious discrimination.”
In his letter, Mr. L’Heureux denied that his division had issued instructions requiring consuls “to ascertain whether or not visa applicants are of ‘Jewish’ or ‘Hebrew’ origin” and declared that under current instructions “no alien is to be asked whether he belongs to any particular race.” It is, he said, up to each alien to “state in his visa application the race to which he considers himself to belong.”
No instructions have been sent to the Foreign Service concerning race and ethnic classifications under the Immigration and Nationality Act, and none are contemplated “until after the lists being prepared by the Bureau of the Budget Sub-committee have been approved by the Immigration Sub-committee of Congress,” he declared.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.