Refugees in America: Report of the Committee for the Study of Recent Immigration from Europe

Refugees in America: Report of the Committee for the Study of Recent Immigration from Europe

Refugees in America: Report of the Committee for the Study of Recent Immigration from Europe

Refugees in America: Report of the Committee for the Study of Recent Immigration from Europe

Excerpt

The recent refugee movement to the United States has aroused unusual interest because of its dramatic character, the type of people it involved, and the international unrest characterizing the period when it occurred. Composed primarily of middle- and upper-class persons, it contrasted sharply with earlier immigration movements and attracted the interest and sometimes the opposition of American professional and business people who hitherto had seldom if ever been directly concerned with immigrant arrivals as associates or as competitors. Since a majority of the refugees were either Jews by confession or "non-Aryans," that is, Jews by descent only, the movement provided a basis for anti-Semitic agitation, which was intensified by German propaganda. The refugees became the object of widespread discussion. On the one hand, they were hailed as a superior group greatly enriching American cultural and economic life and, on the other hand, as a destructive and subversive element in our society.

What are the facts? How many of our recent immigrants have been refugees? To what nationalities and religious groups do they belong? How have our immigration laws functioned during this period, and how have they been administered? Where have the refugees settled? How have they adjusted themselves to American life? What do they think of Americans? What do Americans think of them? What is their attitude toward assimilation? Do they intend to remain or to return? What effect have they had on American society? What contributions have they made to our culture and economy? In short, have they been an asset or a liability to this country?

It was in the attempt to answer these and similar questions in an objective and impartial way that this Study was undertaken. It is essentially a fact- finding investigation. As one refugee commented in his reply to our questionnaire, "I don't think one can solve the so-called refugee problem by putting up another statistic. However, it's worth trying."

Though on a much smaller scale, the present Study is perhaps most comparable to the investigation conducted by the United States Immigration Commission appointed under the Congressional Act of February 20, 1907, in being a nation-wide study of a contemporary immigration movement . . .

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