APRIL 2, 1962
PHILADELPHIA—The refugee problem which has come to us as a result of our difficulty with the island of Cuba shows little sign of diminishing. Nearly 2,000 Cuban refugees continue to arrive in Miami, Florida, each week. These are people who find that under Communism they are not really better off. If they had been able to earn a living—if they had been able to have enough to eat, to find better jobs, to educate their children—they would probably have stayed. But this has proved impossible, and so they have made the break with their homeland.
They arrive in Miami anxious above everything else to find work. Sometimes they need to learn English; sometimes they need some retraining to make them better able to find jobs. A Cuban refugee center has been established in Miami and information can be obtained there.
A campaign is about to start to gain coordinated action on a nationwide basis for jobs, as well as sponsors for refugees. In the past, America has taken in refugees from many lands. We have learned the way to help: many people in many communities, through their church organizations and other groups, know the techniques of assisting refugees to adjust in a new community. If all over the country these techniques can be applied to relieve the congestion of Cubans in the Miami area, it will not only help these individuals but will also be noted in the whole of Latin America.
The immediate need, first, is for every industry, in every city and state, to see if jobs can be found that are suited to some of these refugees. Then it is necessary to find sponsors in the city or area who will take on the aid necessary to the family which is trying to adjust to new conditions, to learn a new language and to understand the people, habits and customs of the country.
Under a directive from President Kennedy, this U. S. program is administered by Secretary Ribicoff in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. The way you as an individual, wherever you live in the U. S., can be helpful to the Cuban refugees of Miami is to state what you can offer in jobs and sponsorship. There are voluntary agencies experienced in resettlement that are cooperating at the Cuban refugee center and through their branches throughout the country. These are the Catholic Relief Services, Church World Service (Protestant), the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), the International Rescue Committee (non-sectarian).
The U. S. Employment Service, Department of Labor, interviews refugees at the center and identifies their job skills, and they may be addressed directly at the refugee center in Miami. At the same time that you state what you have to offer, ask what the duties of sponsorship are, as these require a willingness to help day by day on the first arrival of the strangers in your community, and good sponsors will hasten the success of assimilating new workers.
I hope that the nation, in welcoming Mrs. Kennedy home, will show her that we are really grateful for her undertaking the strenuous if interesting trip just concluded, because she has certainly enhanced the popularity of America and Americans, and this is not always easy to do.
In London someone asked her if she had really had a chance to sleep enough. With the characteristic resilience of youth, she replied that she had already slept too much! How wonderful it is for us to have a young intelligent and attractive First Lady with the interest and enthusiasm which she has shown in her trips to India and Pakistan. I am sure the pictures which told of this trip have acquainted many people with these areas and will be valuable in broadening our knowledge of another part of the world.
According to newspaper reports, psychiatrists who made a five-year study of an East Side Manhattan residential district found that 80 percent of the people showed mental disturbances ranging from mild to severe. Since this appears to be representative of all large cities, it is reason for concern. It leads one to believe that somehow we should cut down on the size of our big cities and that we should try to get more of the atmosphere that permeates a rural area. This means organizing one's life so that there is a certain amount of time in which to do something one enjoys, and also the creation of small communities within the big one. It seems to me to be a signpost demanding prompt attention when only 18.5 percent of the residents in a typical city neighborhood are found sufficiently free of emotional symptoms to be considered "well."