Letter from Robert Taft pg2Letter from Robert Taft pg1The USA Rejects Entry of Jewish Refugees

June 7, 1939 Robert Taft Republican Candidate for the Presidency of the U.S.A.


Mrs. Louis J. Cort,

3357 Kildare Road,

Cleveland Heights, Ohio

Dear Mrs. Cort:

I have received your recent communication with regard to the Wagner-Rogers Bill, providing for the admission of 20,000 German children in addition to the regular immigration quota.

I have not found it easy to decide what is the right thing to do with reference to this bill. I have the utmost sympathy with the terrible position of the German refugees, and the appeal for the assistance to helpless children is hard to resist.

On the other hand it proposes a substantial modification modification of the immigration policy which the United States adopted after an unfortunate experience with immigration, and I am loathe to vote for any modification of that policy. I do not think anything is more responsible for our present condition than the unrestricted immigration before the world war, which provided cheap labor for the steel mills and the mines.

Particularly at the present time, I think it unwise to encourage immigration. Nearly twenty million people are dependent on the federal government for relief. Among them are millions of children unable to obtain a sufficient amount of food, clothing and housing. It is said that the refugee children wil be provided with homes, but if homes are available in America for twenty thousand children, then certainly there are at least 20,000 American children whose condition could be tremendously benefited by access to such homes. Furthermore, there is no assurance that in years to come, when the additional children are looking for jobs, conditions of unemployment will be better than now, and if the refugees obtain jobs, they will displace 20,000 young Americans engaged in the same search.

It is urged that America should contribute its share to relieving the terrific results of oppression in Europe, but America already is admitting 27,000 refugees within the quota and many additional thousands on special and visitors’ visas. I believe that we are doing more than our share to relieve the situation. We cannot cure it in any event. No substantial part of the refugee problem can be solved by immigration into any country, because there are practically a million and a half refugees, and no country is willing to receive more than a few. The only practical method of dealing with them seems to be some plan for colonization in Asia or Africa.

Finally, the plan of admitting 20,000 children, and separating them from their parents, does not seem desirable to me. It imposes a hardship which may be greater than may result in many cases if these children remain with their families. It inevitably suggests a reunion and a request for the admission of the children’s families at a later time, which it will be hard for any humane person to resist.

I have tried to consider all the arguments that have been urged, and to weigh them carefully and I have come to the conclusion that I shall vote against the bill.


Sincerely yours,

Robert Taft.