398.18 ICEM/12–152

The Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (Linder) to the United States Special Representative in Europe (Draper)1


Dear Bill: You will recall our meeting here in the Department on October 20 in which we reviewed the problem of European migration and particularly the urgency of getting some action under way in the light of the forthcoming Italian elections.

Shortly after our meeting I addressed a statement to the President’s Commission on Immigration and Naturalization which laid special emphasis on the problems arising from surplus populations in parts of Western Europe. It pointed to the estimated three to five million persons for whom there are no reasonable prospects of integration into the economies of their countries and the political implications of this situation, especially as it pertains to Italy. Although my remarks were directed especially to the question of what the United States should do, I stressed that the responsibility for solving the European surplus population problem cannot rest with any one country but must be shared on the basis of effective international action and cooperation. In this connection the attention of the Commission was drawn to potential migration opportunities in underdeveloped areas such as Latin America and in underpopulated countries such as Canada and Australia.

My recommendation to the Commission was two-fold. I urged first the liberalization of our own laws to permit the immigration of Italian nationals to this country substantially above the level now legally possible. Such action would contribute significantly toward strengthening the forces of democracy in the forthcoming Italian elections and at the same time provide a dramatic example for other countries of potential immigration to follow, thereby facilitating our efforts to encourage similar action on their part. The second course that I urged was that the United States should consider the need and feasibility of establishing additional facilities for providing financial help in the economic development field directly related to the needs of immigrants who might be settled in larger numbers in Latin America and Australia.

Subsequent to my submission of this statement several representatives of the Department, including myself, met personally with the Commission and discussed at length the implications of United States immigration policies from the standpoint of foreign [Page 1623] relations. While much of this discussion was concerned rather directly with an attempt to assess the political and psychological impact of the McCarran Act2 in various areas of the world, emphasis was given to the urgency with which countries of emigration pressed the need for a larger volume of emigration at the Migration Committee meeting in Geneva.3 George Warren further explained that other countries of Western Europe such as France and Belgium were also concerned about the problem of liberalizing immigration because they operate as countries of second asylum for the transit of refugees. They are willing to assume this role only if they have some assurance that they will be relieved of the burden by other countries in a position to absorb the refugees.

I took the occasion to emphasize to the Commission the need for a liberal immigration policy in the light of our broad foreign economic policy objectives. I explained how the long-run economic viability of Western Europe can only be achieved if a much greater degree of flexibility is introduced into European economies, and that to this end rigidities had to be eliminated not only internally but externally as well. With respect to the external aspects of this problem, however, the main focus of attention has been on the international movements of goods and capital with relatively little attention given to the movement of people. When the Commission inquired as to whether it was possible to point to some good specific illustration of the adverse effect of restrictions on the achievement of United States foreign economic objectives, I pointed to the Italian situation and explained the problem in the terms already outlined.

I assume that the President’s Commission will have these considerations in mind in preparing its legislative recommendations. The report of the Commission is due by the end of the year.4

We shall continue to follow this problem and in that connection I would be grateful for any further suggestions or observations which you may care to make.

Sincerely yours,

Harold F. Linder
  1. Drafted by Isaiah Frank, Adviser, Office of Economic Defense and Trade Policy, Bureau of Economic Affairs, on Nov. 28, 1952.
  2. Reference is to the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (Public Law 82–414); for a legislative history, see the editorial note, p. 1569.
  3. Reference is to the Fourth Session of the Provisional Intergovernmental Committee for the Movement of Migrants from Europe which met at Geneva, Oct. 13–21, 1952. For the confidential report on this session, see supra.
  4. Whom We Shall Welcome: Report of the President’s Commission on Immigration and Naturalization (Washington, 1953).