The Pittsburgh Press (July 27, 1944)
By Westbrook Pegler
New York –
President Roosevelt recently announced to Congress as an accomplished fact, his decision that “approximately” 1,000 continental European refugees who have reached southern Italy, “predominantly” women and children, would be brought here and given asylum in a vacant Army camp in the East. They would be returned to their homelands “upon the termination of the war.”
Any objection will be met instantly with a tragic story of the persecution of innocent children who cannot even understand why they and their humble parents are so horribly mistreated. Thus, it would seem as though only children and their inoffensive and helpless mothers would be admitted, although Mr. Roosevelt’s qualifying word “predominantly” would leave room for a number of men, as well.
In November 1942, Mr. Roosevelt proposed that our immigration laws be suspended entirely for the duration of the war. This request was denied by the House Ways and Means Committee.
Francis Biddle, the Attorney General, urged the Committee to agree on the ground that otherwise we would have to pay ourselves a head tax of $8 on every prisoner of war brought here for detention. It was even suggested that dignitaries of our Allies would be subjected to embarrassing formalities in clearing immigration stations.
Biddle’s concern unnecessary
There is no record of the exclusion of any prisoner of war for lack of the $8 head tax. Neither has there been any report of the detention of any accredited agent of any of our Allies. So, Mr. Biddle’s concern on these two points seems to have been entirely unnecessary.
Although the Committee did reject the President’s proposal, his recent announcement regarding the 1,000 refugees, delivered in the form of a message, cited no legal authority for his action. Mr. Roosevelt just said that “I determined that this government should intensify its efforts to combat the Nazi terror” and that, “accordingly I established the War Refugee Board, composed of the Secretaries of State, Treasury and War” to translate “this government’s humanitarian policy into prompt action.”
“Therefore,” he continued, “I wish to report to you today a step which I have just taken…” and so forth, announcing the importation of the 1,000 refugees. There was no intimation that 1,000 would be all. With equal authority, wherever derived, Mr. Roosevelt may admit 500,000 who need not be “predominantly” women and children and who if “predominantly” women, might be Communists or Fascists.
Many once supported Hitler
It seems to be forgotten, although it remains a fact, that many of those in Europe who were later persecuted for various reasons found Fascism and Hitlerism very agreeable at the beginning. It should be remembered that the Communists of Germany, who are now included among the pitiable victims of Hitler’s barbarity, had been fairly barbarous themselves and so greatly admired Hitler that all six million of them, under instructions from Moscow, voted for Hitler in his final rise to power. They put them over because they believed in totalitarian government.
Meanwhile, mainly in the great exodus immediately preceding the war, this country received a large but unknown number of refugees, including many women, as temporary visitors with a tacit understanding that we were winking at our own law. The understanding was that once they were in, they could stay; and although we can’t know their particular, individual political activities back home, we do know that they didn’t pass our tests.
All of them will presently be admitted to settle permanently by taking a little trip to Canada and reentering as immigrants. This is the plan now.