Q. On Tuesday, Mr. President, you intimated that you
did not propose, or would not consider, lowering the immigration barriers
for the benefit of German refugees. Since that time a good deal has
been said in print that you might do so after all. Have you changed
THE PRESIDENT. No. There is one other factor that was
brought up, that is a brand new one, which I did not hear about until
yesterday. There are in this country at the present time quite a large
number—I think you had better check these figures through the
Secretary of Labor but I am inclined to think that they run as high
as twelve to fifteen thousand-refugees from, principally, Germany and
Austria—what was Austria—who are in this country on what
are called "Visitors' Permits," I think that is the word.
In other words, they are here, not on a quota, but
as visitors with proper passports from their own governments. The situation
apparently has arisen that, because of a recent decree, those visitors'
passports will be canceled as of the thirtieth of December, this year.
Now, as a matter of practical fact, a great many of
these people—who are not all Jews by any means, since other religions
are included in very large numbers among them-if they were to get back
to Germany before the thirtieth of December, a great many of them believe
that their treatment on reaching home might be a very serious problem.
In other words, it is a question of concentration camps, et cetera and
so on. They are not here under a quota so we have a very definite problem
as to what to do. I don't know, from the point of view of humanity,
that we have a right to put them on a ship and send them back to Germany
under the present conditions. We can legally—the Secretary of
Labor can, legally—give six months extensions so that they can
stay in this country under the six months extension provision. As I
understand it, the law does not say how many six months extensions there
can be—it does not limit the number. So what I told the Secretary
of Labor yesterday was that it would be a cruel and inhuman thing to
compel them to leave here in time to get back to Germany by the thirtieth
of December. I have suggested to Miss Perkins that they be given six
months extensions. Under those extensions they cannot, as I understand
it, apply for American citizenship. They are only visitors. Therefore,
there being no adequate law on the subject, we shall simply present
the facts to the Congress. If the Congress takes no action, these unfortunate
people will be allowed to stay in this country.