NOVEMBER 20, 1946
NEW YORK, Tuesday—I noticed in last night's paper that Mrs. Julius V. Talmadge, president-general of the Daughters of the American Revolution, is against President Truman's proposal that the United States ease some of its immigration restrictions to permit the entry of some of the displaced persons from European refugee camps. As I understand it, the President has not asked for any increase in the quotas of immigration, but simply that we carry over from one month to another the unfilled quotas. If for any reason, such as difficulties of transportation or visas, certain people could not come during a given month, they might come the next month.
I had been told that women belonging to some of our patriotic organizations such as the DAR were opposed to this humanitarian easing of our immigration rules. One cannot help wondering, however, what makes these women, and other groups that think along the same lines, so fearful of holding out even so mild a helping hand as is suggested.
The years of high immigration in the past were usually prosperous, because at that time we were expanding. At present, we are again in need of labor. And the types of immigrants we could obtain would, in many cases, be of a very high order. We might count on their creating new opportunities for employment, rather than being content simply to hold jobs of their own.
I wonder how many of us would be here today if the founding fathers had been as nervous as we are about the oncoming hordes that threatened to starve them to death when they were not growing much more than they themselves could eat!
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I can understand a little better the attitude of the veterans' and the labor groups, because they are in direct competition. But one would expect that women would think of the effect that a shortsighted policy might have on future peace. Unless we show some willingness to absorb our quota of displaced people and refugees, why should other countries make any sacrifices?
When all the repatriation possible has been done in Europe, there will probably remain several hundred thousand people—Jews, Balts, Poles, Yugoslavs, Ukrainians and others—who, for reasons which to them seem valid, do not wish to return to their homes. If they stay where they are in Europe, they delay and impede the return to normal conditions, and they are not able to use their abilities to the best advantage.
We hope, of course, that all people who can possibly go back to their own countries will do so, because those countries need help in rebuilding. It may be hard at first, but it will be rewarding to contribute to the revival of one's native land. But the Jews, for instance, cannot be asked to return to countries where their memories are tragic and bitter, and where, often, they are still not too welcome.
Some other people whose countries have changed their form of government may quite honestly prefer not to live under the new conditions, simply because they would not feel as free as they did before foreign domination wiped out the government that they originally supported. They are not necessarily Fascists, and we of all people should do what we can to help them to start life anew.