IT IS with very great pleasure that I have today signed H.R. 4567, which amends the Displaced Persons Act of 1948.
The improvements embodied in H.R. 4567 now bring the American principles of fair play and generosity to our displaced persons program.
When I reluctantly signed the Displaced Persons Act of 1948, I did so in spite of certain of its provisions which imposed unworkable restrictions and resulted in unfair discriminations. Nevertheless, I felt it was necessary to make a start toward a resettlement program for these victims of totalitarianism who yearned to live as useful citizens in a free country.
I had no doubt then, and I have been confident ever since, that when the will of the American people was truly expressed, these defects in the program would be corrected. This confidence has been fully justified.
H.R. 4567 corrects the discriminations inherent in the previous act. Now, the postwar victims of totalitarianism will be on an equal footing with earlier victims of Nazi aggression.
I am also glad that the new act wisely and generously extends opportunity for immigration to the United States to additional groups of deserving persons who should make fine citizens. Special provisions are made for 10,000 war orphans from the free countries of Europe and for 4,000 European refugees who fled to the Far East to escape one form of totalitarianism and must now flee before a new tyranny. Eighteen thousand honorably discharged veterans of the exiled Polish Army, who were given temporary homes in England after the war, will now have an opportunity to settle permanently in the United States. Ten thousand Greek refugees and 2,000 displaced persons now in Trieste and Italy will also have an opportunity to immigrate to the United States. Provision has been made for the admission into this country of 54,744 refugees and expellees of German origin. In all, the amended law authorizes a total of 400,744 visas, including the 172,230 which have been issued up to May 31, 1950.
It is especially gratifying to me that this expression of American fairness and generosity has been brought about by the combined efforts of both 'political parties, supported by groups and organizations broadly representative of all parts of our country. H.R. 4567 is a splendid example of the way in which joint action can strengthen and unify our country.
The countrymen of these displaced persons have brought to us in the past the best of their labor, their hatred of tyranny, and their love of freedom. They have helped our country grow in strength and moral leadership. I have every confidence that the new Americans who will come to our country under the provisions of the present bill will also make a substantial contribution to our national well-being.
I have today also signed the Executive order required by law, designating the Displaced Persons Commission to carry out the investigations and make the reports required by the statute, regarding the character, history, and eligibility of displaced persons and persons of German ethnic origin seeking admission into the United States. In the discharge of this statutory duty, I am directing the Commission to continue its vigorous and effective protection of the security of the United States.