Franklin D. Roosevelt

Statement Against Discharging Loyal Aliens from Jobs.

January 02, 1942

I am deeply concerned over the increasing number of reports of employers discharging workers who happen to be aliens or even foreign-born citizens. This is a very serious matter. It is one thing to safeguard American industry, and particularly defense industry, against sabotage; but it is very much another to throw out of work honest and loyal people who, except for the accident of birth, are sincerely patriotic.

Such a policy is as stupid as it is unjust, and on both counts it plays into the hands of the enemies of American democracy. By discharging loyal, efficient workers simply because they were born abroad or because they have "foreign-sounding" names or by refusing to employ such men and women, employers are engendering the very distrust and disunity on which our enemies are counting to defeat us.

Remember the Nazi technique: "Pit race against race, religion against religion, prejudice against prejudice. Divide and conquer!"

We must not let that happen here. We must not forget what we are defending: liberty, decency, justice. We cannot afford the economic waste of services of all loyal and patriotic citizens and non-citizens in defending our land and our liberties.

I urge all private employers to adopt a sane policy regarding aliens and foreign-born citizens, and to remember that the sons of the "foreigners" they discharged may be among those who fought and are fighting so valiantly at Pearl Harbor or in the Philippines.

There is no law providing against employment of aliens except in special defense work of a secret nature, and even in such work the employer may hire an alien with the permission of the Army or Navy, depending on the contract.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Statement Against Discharging Loyal Aliens from Jobs. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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