The Consul General at Jerusalem (Wadsworth) to the Secretary of State

No. 556

Sir: I have the honor to enclose an extraordinary number of the Palestine Gazette dated March 15, 1938, issued to give legal effect to [Page 914]regulations drawn up by the Colonial Office36 governing immigration into Palestine for the period April 1 to September 30, 1938. It is anticipated that, under the new regime, the monthly average of 1,000 in force since last August, will be slightly increased.

The Department is referred to my despatches 344 and 353, November 10 and 17, 1937,37 reporting the adoption of a “political high level” policy for immigration into Palestine in place of the traditional principle of economic absorptive capacity. It was emphasized in those despatches that the political high level policy, under which 8,000 immigrants of all categories were to be admitted to Palestine for the eight month period ending March 31, 1938, was considered a temporary expedient and did not contemplate the abandonment of the economic absorptive capacity principle. The new policy, it was observed, was based on a recommendation of the Palestine Royal Commission that immigration into Palestine should be restricted during the next five years to a total of 12,000 a year.

The new regulations contain three points meriting special consideration. First, the power granted the High Commissioner under Section 5 (a) of the old regulations to prescribe the maximum number of immigrants to be admitted up to March 31, 1938, has been extended to March 31, 1939. Thus, the policy of political high level continues in force for another year, although the numerical restrictions given in the new regulations cover only the first six months of that period. Second, it is restated that the replacement of the policy of economic absorptive capacity by that of political high level is a temporary measure. Third, the numerical restrictions on immigration have been made slightly more liberal.

The new regulations are a partial concession to Jewish opinion, which has bitterly denounced the political high level policy and demanded liberalization of the regulations, particularly with regard to the admission of capitalists and near dependents of legally admitted residents. The intention of the Government in putting these new regulations into force, as stated in Paragraph 9, was to diminish the element of arbitrariness involved in the existing ones, at the same time avoiding any considerable change in the total rate of immigration. Only the following persons will be admitted into Palestine for the entire six month period from April 1 to September 30, 1938:

Persons of independent means. The number to be admitted under this category is fixed at 2,000, to include 10 pensioners and 20 agricultural settlers with capital of LP 500.
Students. No numerical restriction is put on the number of students whose maintenance is assured until they can become self supporting.
Labor Immigrants. A quota of 1,000 is approved for laborers, to be used in the discretion of the High Commissioner if he decides that the economic condition of the country warrants the admission of workers.
Dependents. Near dependents (wives and children only) of legally admitted aliens residing in Palestine and of new immigrants will be admitted without numerical restriction subject to proper inquiry and investigation. In addition, 200 parents will be admitted in special cases.

Confidential Section: The following information up to the paragraph Jewish Press Reaction was furnished by the Honorable Edwin H. Samuel, Deputy Commissioner for Migration, with the understanding that it be kept strictly confidential, since his Department does not wish to make public its estimate of the number of immigrants who are likely to be admitted under the new regulations. In reply to a question as to whether immigration would not be considerably increased since unrestricted entry is permitted in certain categories, he replied that there would be no appreciable increase. He was good enough to give his estimates under the various categories for the six month period as follows:

Persons of independent means. Based on the present volume of applications he estimated that only about 1,200 capitalists will enter the country, since many persons of this class who would like to enter Palestine are unable to get their money out of European countries. The dependents of these persons will number about 1,600. This number, slightly more than one per capitalistic immigrant, is based on statistics covering actual entries in recent years.
Students. Mr. Samuel estimates that about 1,500 students will be admitted. When asked whether unscrupulous persons could not enter fraudulently as students, he replied that that was hardly possible, since his Department gives consideration to the bona fides of the schools and their ability to take care of a given number of students rather than to the merits of the individual student.
Labor Immigrants. This is the only category for which Mr. Samuel was unable to make any estimate. He explained that, in view of existing unemployment, it is hardly likely that ordinary laborers will be admitted. However, quite a large number of cases are pending and will be approved for the admission of technicians, skilled workers, specialists, and perhaps skilled agriculturalists. He appeared to be certain that the entire six months’ quota will not be used.
Dependents. He believes that only approximately 600 dependents of residents of Palestine will be admitted. This small number is explained by the fact that immigrants into Palestine nearly always bring their wives and children with them, most of them being Jews escaping persecution in Europe.

[Page 916]

The maximum number which in all probability will be admitted during the six month period is fixed by the Deputy Commissioner at 7,300, an increase of 22 per cent, over the 1,000 a month now being admitted. In reaching this figure, Mr. Samuel has used the estimates given above for capitalists, students, and dependents and the total quota for laborers. The estimate of the number of laborers and their dependents is admittedly too high but it serves to compensate for other categories which may be fixed too low. Stated more briefly in tabulated form his estimates are as follows:

a) Capitalists 1,200
Dependents of capitalists 1,600
Pensioners and agriculturalists and their dependents 50
b) Students 1,500
c) Labor immigrants 1,000
Dependents of laborers 1,150
d) Dependents of residents 600
Dependent parents   200

[Final paragraphs dealing with Jewish and Arab press reactions not printed.]

Respectfully yours,

George Wadsworth
  1. In the form of an instruction to the High Commissioner for Palestine from the Secretary of State for Colonies, March 10, 1938. For text, see United Kingdom, Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, 5th ser., vol. 333, p. 40.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1937, vol. ii, pp. 914 and 918.