398.18 ICEM/5–2754

The Secretary of State to the Chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary (Reed)1

Dear Mr. Reed: At our meeting on Friday, May 21, 1954, it was agreed that I would furnish you my views concerning the version of S. 1766, “To establish the Office of Refugees and International Migration”, which was reported by your Committee on April 12, 1954.

As you were informed by Assistant Secretary Morton in his letters of January 28 and March 16, 1954,2 the text of the Constitution proposed by the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration3 meets with the approval of the Department, and the Department is ready to support fully legislation authorizing United States participation in the Committee in accordance with the ICEM Constitution. If it were at all possible to do so, I would hope that legislation exclusively related to this subject could be approved by the Congress.

I am greatly concerned, however, regarding the provisions of the version of S. 1766 reported out by your Committee which would establish in the Department of State an Office of Refugees and International Migration. From the language of the bill and the Committee report, it would appear that the Secretary of State would be directed to establish an Office of Refugees and International Migration, headed by a Director who would have primary responsibility for the “development and administration of programs of assistance to refugees and international migration.”

As you know, it was the intention of the President, in which I fully concurred, under Reorganization Plan No. 7 of June 1, 1953,4 [Page 1635] to divest the Department of certain operating functions concerning refugees, but to retain policy guidance in the Department. I firmly believe that such policy guidance has in fact been retained and exercised within the Department.

In its present form, S. 1766 appears to be contrary to Reorganization Plan No. 7 and to return to the Department certain operating functions concerning refugees which to my mind would recreate the situation which the Reorganization Plan was designed to eliminate. As you know, the Reorganization Plan has been in operation for less than a year, and I know of no valid reasons for revising the present arrangements.

The language of the bill and its legislative history to date appear clearly to indicate an intention that those operating functions are to be returned to the Department of State. Even if there were subsequent clarification of the legislative intent on this point, however, I believe the provisions of the bill creating an Office of Refugees and International Migration in the Department would serve no useful purpose and would cause some uncertainty and confusion as to areas of responsibility.

I am in thorough agreement that the subjects of refugees and migration are extremely important and that there must be full coordination in those fields. As a matter of principle, however, and from the standpoint of good administration, I do not believe it wise to establish by statute special offices in the Department to deal with specific substantive matters.

In many cases, policy problems concerning refugees and migration are closely related to and can not be separated from the general foreign policy and economic problems of a particular geographic area. Furthermore, the problems of refugees and migration are of such a nature that I sincerely believe it would be better to permit the Secretary of State considerable freedom of action in establishing the administrative processes within the Department by which these problems are considered and coordinated.

In order that I might get my views to you as soon as possible, I have not had an opportunity to coordinate this letter with the Bureau of the Budget or other interested Government agencies.

Sincerely yours,

John Foster Dulles
  1. Drafted by George O. Gray, Special Assistant, Office of the Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations. Addressed to Chauncey W. Reed (R.–Ill).
  2. Neither printed. Both are in file 398.18 ICEM/12–3053.
  3. The final text of the reference Constitution was enclosed in a letter from Chairman Reed to the Secretary, dated Dec. 30, 1953, in file 398.18 ICEM/12–3053. The Constitution was adopted at the Sixth Session of the ICEM, held at Venice, Oct. 12–21, 1953. A copy of the confidential report on that session is in file 398.18 ICEM/12–153.
  4. The reference reorganization plan, which became effective Aug. 1, 1953, abolished the Mutual Security Agency and transferred its functions as well as those of the Technical Cooperation Administration and the Institute for Inter-American Affairs to a new Foreign Operations Administration (FOA) in which the responsibility for all foreign assistance programs was to be centralized. The plan also transferred from the Secretary of State to the Director of this new administration responsibility for assistance to private foreign relief organizations, for programs aiding escapees from Communist areas, and for operating functions with respect to U.S. participation in various U.N. agencies and in the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration. For the text of the plan, as well as the President’s message to Congress explaining its objectives, see Department of State Bulletin, June 15, 1953, pp. 849–853. See also the editorial note, p. 628.