Displaced Persons Act (United States) (1948)

2011-02-10 12:52:12

Bills to assist central European refugees were brought before Congress in 1937 and 1939, but it was not found necessary to pass new legislation because the number of refugees could be accommodated under existing legislation. The magnitude of the refugee problem was so greatly enhanced by the destruction of World War II (1939–45), however, that new legislation became imperative. By mid-1945, there were already almost 2 million displaced persons, with thousands still fleeing from Soviet domination in eastern Europe (see World War II and immigration). The main provisions of the Displaced Persons Act included approval of 220,000 visas to be issued for two years without regard to quota but charged to the appropriate quotas in future years; up to 3,000 nonquota visas for displaced orphans; and granting to the attorney general, with the approval of Congress, the right to adjust the status of up to 15,000 displaced persons who entered the country prior to April 1, 1948.
The act was amended on June 16, 1950, to add another 121,000 visas, for a total of 341,000, through June 1951, chargeable against future quotas at a maximum rate of onefourth of quotas for three fiscal years (1951–54) and at onehalf of quotas thereafter as needed. The number of visas for orphans was raised to 5,000 and taken as a part of the total authorization of 341,000. The provision for adjusting the status of previously admitted displaced persons was extended to those who had entered the United States prior to April 30, 1949. An additional section was added to the Displaced Persons Act, providing 5,000 additional nonquota visas for orphans under the age of 10 who were coming for adoption, to an agency, or to reside with close relatives.
On June 28, 1951, the Displaced Persons Act was again amended to extend the time for issuing the 341,000 visas to the end of 1951 and through the first half of 1952 for displaced orphans.