PIN files, lot 56 D 324, “Minutes, 1947–54”

Minutes of the 59th Meeting of the Policy Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, Held in the Department of State, 3–4:30 p.m., March 5, 1952

PIN M–59
  • Present: Conrad E. Snow, L/FE, Chairman
  • Robert C. Alexander, VD
  • Richard M. Cashin, A/MS
  • Laurence Dawson, UNA/R
  • Daniel Goott, E/L
  • George Gray, H
  • Richard J. Kerry, UNI
  • George Knight, L/EUR
  • Kenneth P. Landon, PSA
  • Inez M. Manderson, GER
  • Howard H. Russell, IES
  • Peter Rutter, WE
  • Irwin Tobin, S/M
  • George Warren, UNA/R
  • William S. Lambert, S/S–S, Secretary
  • Leonard J. Horwitz, S/S–S

Note: Mr. Spalding, ARA, informed the Chairman just before the meeting began that ARA had no objections to the message being considered by the Committee.

Presidential Message on Special New Immigration Program1(PIN D–29, March 4, 1952)2

Action: The Chairman appointed a drafting committee to draw up the Department’s comments and suggested revisions of those aspects of the Presidential message which concern immigration. The following were appointed to the drafting committee:
  • Mr. Knight, Chairman
  • Mr. Rutter
  • Mr. Tobin
  • Mr. Dawson
  • Mr. Gray
  • Mr. Landon
  • and a representative of the Visa Division.
Discussion: The Chairman called attention to the three essential recommendations of the Presidential message on pages 11 and 12 of PIN D–29: (1) the admission to the U.S. of 300,000 immigrants over a three-year period; (2) the granting of visas to not more than 7,500 persons being processed under Section 2(c) of the Displaced Persons Act at the time of its expiration; and (3) a program for the reception and temporary care in Europe of refugees from the Soviet Union and satellites. He noted that the third recommendation is in the province of the Psychological Strategy Board and beyond the competence of PIN.
Later in the meeting, Mr. Warren said that he had just come from a conference at the White House at which the urgency of sending the Department’s comments had been stressed, and the Chairman added that those comments should be sent no later than March 6.

First Recommendation

Mr. Goott was concerned by the emphasis placed on the need for refugees in the U.S. based on manpower criteria. He thought that this emphasis might expose us to some difficult questions and hamper success in getting trade union support. He suggested that we take the position that we should do this for certain foreign policy reasons, noting that these refugees could be absorbed into the American economy.
Mr. Rutter asked the origin of the 300,000 figure and Mr. Tobin believed that this had been based on an estimate made by the Displaced Persons Commission that this was the highest number which could be processed under existing conditions. Mr. Tobin noted that shortly after Christmas the White House called together people from State, MSA, Justice, Labor and the Displaced Persons Commission to study this problem—partly because of the President’s interest in the Italian surplus manpower problem following his talks with Premier De Gasperi. A report on the problem of admitting special immigrants into the U.S. and, subsequently, a draft Presidential message were submitted by this group as individuals—not representing the views of their agencies. Mr. Tobin said that this group did not consider the Kersten Amendment3 as such. [Page 1582] Mr. Dawson noted that when the first draft Presidential message had been sent to his office from the DPC it was alleged to be the report of an interdepartmental committee; State maintained that the group was not such a committee since the Visa Division had not been invited to participate in its activities.
Mr. Alexander commented that the Visa Division recognizes that there is no chance of obtaining passage of legislation such as this and he thought that it might be detrimental to raise false hopes among people abroad by making such a proposal in a special Presidential message. He thought that there should be some exploratory work done on Capitol Hill to evaluate chances of passage.
Concerning the proposal itself Mr. Alexander thought that it raised many questions. He thought the bill highly discriminatory since no mention is made of the Far East where a very serious refugee problem exists, and he agreed with Mr. Goott concerning the emphasis on manpower needs. He did not favor the implication in the first paragraph on page 1, the last line of page 3, and the second line of page 6 that the U.S. has the responsibility to relieve countries of overpopulation. He questioned the accuracy of the estimate that 330,000 victims of tyranny have been resettled in the United States (page 1, paragraph 3). With regard to the 54,744 Germans who had been driven out of, or fled from, areas East of the Iron Curtain (top of page 2) he noted that these were not German nationals but German ethnics. With regard to the cooperation of voluntary private agencies, he noted that this new program would not be successful unless these agencies give the same cooperation to it. Returning to the first recommendation concerning the admission of 300,000 immigrants over a three-year period, he asked whether those people are to be granted visas and Mr. Tobin believed that they would be and that their admission would be regulated by all existing safeguards.
Mr. Kerry raised the question of State’s role in this matter if the White House has already decided to request this legislation and Mr. Gray noted that sending Presidential messages and speeches to the Department for comment is a usual device. The Chairman called attention to Mr. Lloyd’s request for comments and suggested revisions.
Mr. Knight noted that the message strongly implies that the DPC has been praiseworthy and he thought that it would take time to judge whether this is actually the case.
Mr. Warren commented that the assumption concerning the cost of transporting immigrants (bottom of page 11, top of page 12) is not realistic since all experience would indicate that the immigrant and the government together could not provide half the cost [Page 1583] and the voluntary agencies are not in a position to underwrite the expenses.
Mr. Tobin thought that, as Mr. Alexander had suggested, the effect of the message abroad, particularly in Italy, deserved some consideration. Concerning the U.S. responsibility for relieving European over-population, he believed there had been a trend in the Department and elsewhere toward the view that we should try to assist in the solution of this problem, and he called attention to the joint statement made a year and a half ago by the U.S., U.K., and French Foreign Ministers. He noted that last July the Under Secretary’s Meeting had considered two recommendations: (1) the creation of an international organization to be of assistance and (2) special admission of immigrants as one phase of the U.S. contribution. He noted that the second recommendation had not been acted upon in the UN but that the opinion had been expressed that action along this line would not be feasible at that time. The result was that the Department took no position but that there was an assumption that the U.S. had an interest in the problem and its solution.
Mr. Rutter said that he had not checked with the Italian Desk recently but he believed it felt that to recommend this legislation if there was no possibility of passage would be detrimental to our relations with Italy. He said that he would verify this.
Mr. Kerry pointed that if it is considered to be a problem whether to request the admission of 300,000 or some other figure, it should be noted that Congress can set the figure at whatever level it desires.
Mr. Alexander said that proposal of this legislation might interfere with the passage of the omnibus bill which is closely connected to the Peace Treaty and our relations with Japan as well as to other Asian immigration problems. Mr. Gray noted that the omnibus bill has been reported out by committees of both houses and would be receiving consideration by the Senate and the House while hearings on the present proposal were proceeding.
The Chairman asked whether the Department could recommend that no answer be sent and Mr. Warren replied that he did not know, but he was interested in Mr. Rutter’s comment that the presentation of this bill and its subsequent rejection would have a disastrous effect on our relations with Italy, especially since one reason for proposing this legislation is to improve our relations with that country.
Mr. Landon said that the message seemed to make no reference to the Far East where there are many political refugees and tremendous overpopulation. He agreed with Mr. Alexander’s comments on the connection with Far Eastern problems. Mr. Tobin [Page 1584] said that the difficulty of this draft is that the language focuses on refugees while the recommendation deals with overpopulation, and he agreed that this was undesirable.
The Chairman called for a vote on the recommendation that no message of this kind should be sent at the present time, and three members of the committee voted in the affirmative. Mr. Goott asked whether the White House had ever received any advice from the Department of State in arriving at the decision to make this proposal, and Mr. Warren said that none had been given officially. Mr. Tobin noted that no Departmental position had been taken on the proposal since it had been emphasized that the views which had been expressed by his office represented only the views of the individual submitting them. Mr. Rutter said that he would have to consolidate the opinions of the EUR area but that if the remarks which he had made concerning the opinion of the Italian Desk were accurate he would tend to vote for the proposal that the Chairman had put before the committee. Mr. Goott said that it was difficult to vote on the proposal because although he would support the objective of the message and legislation he was unable to resolve the problem of whether it is tacticly advisable for the President to take this action now. Mr. Landon commented that the Far East is involved in “the necessity for U.S. leadership to help solve the problems posed by refugees from communism and by overpopulation” (page 11), and he therefore voted for the recommendation before the committee. The Chairman noted that the vote which had been taken was inconclusive but indicated a trend of opinion.
Mr. Alexander mentioned his impression that when Congress authorized the money for international meetings abroad on the migration question, a stipulation had been added that none of the money would be used for formulating plans to bring immigrants into this country. Mr. Kerry believed that none of these funds had been used for that purpose.
Mr. Gray believed that the Department should call to the attention of the White House the possible effects of the message especially if the proposal were not acted upon, and that the Department should also comment on the discrimination evident in the proposal, particularly concerning the Far East. Mr. Goott and Mr. Tobin generally agreed with this. Mr. Tobin believed that the Department’s comments should include the favorable aspects of the proposed legislation including the concern that the Department has felt on the subject of overpopulation in Western Europe and about which we have repeatedly stated our interest.
Mr. Dawson spoke in favor of the proposal to admit 7,000 non-German political and religious refugees from communism, in [Page 1585] connection with the escapee defector plan4 inadequately mentioned in the third recommendation. This program is a special one now in the process of formulation and he thought that our capacity to deal with this problem will be enhanced by our action to admit 7,000 escapees. The Chairman suggested that Mr. Dawson present this point to the drafting committee. Later in the meeting Mr. Goott asked whether the provision for 7,000 could not apply globally, and Mr. Gray commented that we should assume that present immigration curbs will cut across the bill. Mr. Dawson was sure that the burden was on refugees in Europe but thought it would be good to clarify this point since some refugees in the Far East are of European origin.
Mr. Knight asked whether the present proposal to admit 300,000 immigrants might not drain too much manpower from NATO countries, but Mr. Tobin noted that its purpose is to relieve manpower surpluses and unemployment in certain NATO countries and he noted that this had been agreed upon at the Lisbon meeting.5 He said that he would make available to the drafting committee the two NATO reports on this problem. He thought it would be desirable to see the language of the proposed legislation in order to make sure that this immigration will be carried out through cooperative arrangements with countries in order that useful manpower will not be drained from them.
Mr. Alexander suggested that there would be more chance of obtaining passage of this legislation if we proposed that instead of admitting 300,000 immigrants in three years, unused quotas be granted to immigrants such as those outlined in this proposal. This would admit about 50,000 such persons per year (lengthening the admission period from three years to five years) and would not increase the overall total of immigrants admissable under present legislation. He pointed out that this suggestion differed from the old idea presently being brought up again on the Hill to permit oversubscribed countries to draw from unused portions of the quota—a proposal which the Department has not opposed but on which it would want some instruction as to how to divide the unused portion among the countries whose quotas are oversubscribed. There was general support for Mr. Alexander’s proposal.
The Chairman raised the question of whether the assumption is made that other countries will take some immigrants and Mr. Tobin and Mr. Warren mentioned undertakings by Canada and Australia and certain other countries to accept immigrants from [Page 1586] Germany, Austria, Italy, The Netherlands, and Greece. Mr. Tobin added that one weakness of the message under consideration is that no exposition is made of the number of immigrants expected to go to other countries.
Mr. Kerry noted that the reference made to Trieste as a country of Western Europe (page 4) should be corrected.

Second Recommendation

Concerning the recommendation for the admission of 7,500 persons qualified and being processed under Section 2(c) of the Displaced Persons Act at the time of its expiration, Mr. Alexander thought that this should be spelled out more clearly. The consensus of the meeting was that State could comment favorably on this recommendation.

Third Recommendation

The Chairman asked whether our comments should mention the escapee defector program and Mr. Dawson thought that no substantive comment should be made, but he noted that the Department will probably request that this recommendation be separated from the others. He had no objection to making this suggestion in the recommendation drafted by PIN. Mrs. Manderson commented that if this separation were made certain other paragraphs in the paper would have to be deleted. Mr. Dawson said that recommendations on this aspect of the proposal will be coordinated with other offices in State.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the Chairman said that the drafting group should frame comments on those topics which had been mentioned at the meeting and redraft appropriate parts of the message. Mr. Warren thought that since there was general agreement on Mr. Alexander’s suggestion it would not be necessary to include other aspects. The Chairman thought, however, that the EUR view on Italian reaction and the effect in the Far East should be mentioned in our comments. He pointed out that the chance of adverse Congressional reaction would be reduced by Mr. Alexander’s suggestion. He thought the grounds for separating the third recommendation from the first two would be that it has no logical connection with them and also that it is a very desirable program and should not be hazarded by being tied to the other two proposals
  1. This message was transmitted to Congress on Mar. 24, 1952. For the text, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Harry S. Truman, 1952–1953 (Washington, 1966), pp. 209–215, or the Department of State Bulletin, Apr. 7, 1952, pp. 551–555.
  2. Not found in Department of State files. All page references in these minutes refer to PIN D–29.
  3. Reference is to the amendment to the Mutual Security Act of 1951 submitted by Representative Charles J. Kersten (R.–Wis.) on Aug. 17, 1951, which provided for the formation of refugees and escapees from countries behind the Iron Curtain into “national elements of the military forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.” See Congressional Record, Aug. 17, 1951, pp. 10261–10263.
  4. For documentation on what became known as the President’s Escapee Program, see volume viii.
  5. Reference is to the Ninth Session of the North Atlantic Council, Feb. 20–25, 1952; for documentation, see vol. v, Part 1, pp. 107 ff.