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Susan Green

The DP’s: New Bill in Congress
Makes Some Amends

(24 January 1949)

From Labor Action, Vol. 13 No. 4, 24 January 1949, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The lack of hospitality and downright inhumanity of the American government toward the displaced persons languishing in the camps of Europe make a grim story. Here, where simple humanity is involved, there has been no program worthy of the name – and no money to speak of. However, for the Marshall Plan, for the Truman Plan, for the politics of foreign policy, there have been both plan and money.

From the end of the war till last year, when the 80th Congress passed a law which intensified rather than solved the DP problem, only a trickle of unhappy people was able to find refuge here. Since the passage of the law, the disappointment of the DPs has broadened into a river, but the immigration is still a trickle.

Although the law provides for the entrance into this country of 205,000 war victims – a small enough number – in two years, in the first six months of the operation of the law only 2,500 persons were “screened” for entrance. That means that in 25 per cent of the time, only one per cent of the quota has been covered. This masterful result was accomplished by the 80th Congress in two ways. First, it enacted so many requirements and restrictions that it is as hard for a DP to get into the United States as it is for that proverbial rich man into heaven. Second, it provided so little money and so inadequate a staff, that the extensive “screening” process is as slow as molasses. This is the set-up of the present DP law.

Unreasonable Requirements

The requirements and restrictions themselves are flagrantly unreasonable and discriminatory.

Arbitrarily, and without rhyme or reason, the law sets December 1945 as the date when DPs must have arrived in the camps in order to be eligible, for entrance into this country. Critics point out that many camps did not even keep records until after that date. Furthermore, whole blocks of people are automatically excluded by this restriction, as for example the 15,000 Jews who fled from the anti-Semitic pogroms in Kielce, Poland, after the 1945 deadline.

The provision that at least 30 per cent of DPs admitted must be farmers and that at least 40 per cent must come from the Baltic states is frankly discriminatory against both Jews and Catholics. The Jews of Europe may be noted for many things, but certainly not for being farmers – they haven’t been permitted to be. While in the Baltic states the Catholics are a mere handful. Critics of the law have contended that it favors persons of “German ethnic origin.”

Another abominable restriction is that requiring that a DP must have a definite job and a definite home waiting for him here before he is permitted to enter. Three thousand miles removed from the scene, a DP must have well-nigh magic powers to fulfill this requirement. The regular immigration laws of the country make no such outrageous demand.

To add to the complexity, the law provides that its own preferences and priorities must be reconciled with the preferences and priorities established by American organizations which concern themselves with DP immigration.

New Bill Proposed

The most scathing condemnation of the present system was made by Ugo Carusi, chairman of the DP Commission which the law established. Returning from a trip to Europe to find out what was holding up the entrance of DPs, he termed the law “absolutely unworkable.”

There is already in the hopper of the new 81st Congress a DP bill to replace the present monstrosity. Senators McGrath and Neely, both Democrats, are sponsoring the new bill. It would extend eligibility to persons who entered DP camps as late as April 1947. It would eliminate the provision requiring 30 per cent of the DPs to be farmers and at least 40 per cent to come from the Baltic states. The new law would strike out the requirement of a job and a home before a DP may come to America, and demand instead that each United States sponsor guarantee that his DP will not be a public charge.

The McGrath-Neely bill also seeks to double the number of war victims to be admitted, bringing it up to 400,000, but in double the time. It would extend eligibility to refugees from Russia, make special provision for 3,000 war orphans, and insure transportation of DPs to their destination in the United States.

Although the McGrath-Neely bill is not the perfect answer to the DP problem, its passage is urgent to replace the inhuman, discriminatory law on the books – and quickly!

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