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State Dept Rules Visa Applicants Need Not State Religion

December 30, 1952
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

As a result of nation-wide protests which focused attention on the identification of Jews as such on visa applications lit anticipation of the McCarran-Walter Act, the State Department Visa Division has ruled that requirements of the Act do not pertain to religion.

It was learned today that Section 42. 30 of the Act, drawn to implement the McCarran-Walter law, states that “the requirement of the Act that on immigrant should state in his application hisran and ethnic classification does not pertain to his religion.”

However, the issue is seen here as still not finally resolved. This is because the terms “Jewish” or “Hebrew” may be construed by consular authorities as an ethnic label rather than do descriptive of a religion. Section 222-A of the Act requires that each visa applicant state his race and ethnic classification. The race of a Jew would be “white” but how would his “ethnic classification” be labelled?

The question of the ethnic background of Jews must be answered although the Visa Division has now ruled that this does not pertain to religion. No one in Washington who will speak officially for the government will say what should be the ethnic classification of Jews and how they will be described ethnically if not by religion.

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