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United Hias Appeals for ‘democratization’ of U.S. Immigration Laws

March 12, 1962
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A resolution calling for an increase in the American annual immigration quota from approximately 156,000 to 250,000 was adopted here today at the 78th annual meeting of the United Hias Service at the Hotel Roosevelt. More than 1,000 delegates from fraternal, community, religious and labor organizations attended the meeting.

The resolution also asked for other revisions of the U.S. immigration and nationality laws “to reflect American democratic concepts concerning the dignity and worth of the individual.” President Kennedy, in a message to the gathering, congratulated the United Hias Service for “successful efforts in the resettlement of migrants and refugees whose hardship you have translated into hope.”

Senator Philip A. Hart, Michigan Democrat, chairman of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Refugees and Escapees, was the guest speaker at the meeting. He called for new immigration legislation, emphasizing that the immigration laws discriminate against immigrants from Eastern Europe. He was presented with the United Hias Service Award of Honor, an illuminated plaque, in recognition of his “contribution of outstanding significance in the field of migration and resettlement.”


Murray I. Gurfein, president of United Hias Service, reported that “in 1961 more than 30,000 Jewish men, women and children requested and received from United Hias Service vital migration and related services. Of this number, more than 7,000 migrants and refugees received migration assistance, and this was 80 percent higher than primarily in the United States, Latin America, Canada and Australia.

“Five thousand of the assisted migrants were from Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and the Far East, and more than 2,000 were refugees from Cuba,” he said.

Pointing out that “the dilemma of Jews in Cuba is not caused by anti-Semitism, but by the sudden and far-reaching economic and political changes in that country,” Mr. Gurfein stated that “more than 5,000 Jews have left Cuba since the emergency arose, and the vast majority of them have been helped directly or indirectly by United Hias Service.”

He reported that less than one-third of the Jewish refugees from Cuba who received migration assistance from the agency were still in Miami, while the large majority are being successfully resettled in 96 other communities in 29 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and certain Latin American countries.


James P. Rice, executive director of United Hias Service, stated that the agency has helped close to 350 unaccompanied children who came to the United States from Cuba with their parents’ consent. Through arrangements the agency has worked out with local Jewish community organizations, these children are now living in 37 cities of 22 states, he said. Two-thirds of the unaccompanied Jewish children were placed in the homes of relatives. Almost all of the other children have been placed in foster homes, Mr. Rice said. He added that the living arrangements for all of the unaccompanied children are being supervised by child care agencies, and family reunions take place as soon as the parents are able to rejoin their children in the United States.

Governor Rockefeller of New York and Mayor Wagner cited the United Hias Service record in messages sent to the meeting. “It is inspiring to consider that in 77 years United Hias Service and its predecessor agencies have helped more than three million Jewish persons to leave countries where they were oppressed and persecuted. In addition, United Hias has aided them to establish themselves in healthful and fruitful lives in free countries,” Gov. Rockefeller stated.

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