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Presidential Papers Historical Series: White House Statement On The Termination Of The Emergency Program For Hungarian Refugees

by Dwight D. Eisenhower: 1953-1961

The President announced today that effective December 31, 1957, the emergency program for Hungarian refugees coming to the United States will be discontinued.

Termination of the emergency aspects of the United States program to assist Hungarian refugees who fled from Hungary is made possible as a direct result of the effective work performed by the international agencies directly concerned, the efforts of the other 35 countries which granted asylum to the refugees and the assistance provided by various religious, nationality and other private groups. Under this program a total of 38,000 refugees have come to this country.

The recently enacted immigration law, PI. 85--316, will permit some additional Hungarian refugees to come to this country under normal immigration procedures. The services of the United States Escapee Program remain available to facilitate their resettlement to constructive life in the Free World.

The emergency program of assistance to Hungarian escapees began a little over a year ago, on November 15, 1956, following decisions of the President to render relief and peaceful assistance to the Hungarian people and to aid refugees fleeing from Hungary in the face of the Soviet military offensive aimed at crushing the Hungarians' struggle for freedom and national independence.

More than 200,000 Hungarians fled from their native land. The majority fled to Austria, and after the Austrian frontier became sealed, others fled to Yugoslavia. The first escapees reaching Austria were aided by the Austrian people and their government with some limited assistance from the United States Escapee Program. It soon became clear, however, that additional assistance would be needed. Free World response to this need was enthusiastic and immediate. The United States responded with a major emergency refugee assistance program employing U. S. Government, voluntary agency and private resources.

To date a total of $71,075,000 has been made available by the United States to meet the immediate needs of the escapees, to provide food, clothing and shelter, to relieve suffering inside Hungary, to process for resettlement, and to transport them to receiving countries. of this sum almost $20 million in refugee assistance was furnished from American private sources, donated through 18 religious, nationality and other voluntary agencies.

The vessels of the United States Military Sea Transport Service and planes of the Military Air Transport Service were utilized to bring some of the refugees to this country. In other instances they came on planes chartered by the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration.

Of the approximately 38,000 Hungarian refugees coming to this country, 6,130 received immigration visas in the closing days of the Refugee Relief Act. The remainder were admitted into the United States under the parole provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (McCarran-Walter Act).

Over 32,000 of the Hungarian refugees were processed through the reception center at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, speedily reactivated for this purpose by the Army. The President's Committee for Hungarian Refugee Relief, under the direction of Mr. Tracy Voorhees, coordinated the activities of the numerous government and private agencies which assisted in the placement of the Hungarians in hundreds of communities throughout the nation where they have the advantages offered to free men in a free society.

With the close of Camp Kilmer and the dissolution of the Committee, the reception center was transferred to the Saint George Hotel in Brooklyn, New York, operated by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The President pointed out that during the period when these Hungarian escapees were being received in this country under the emergency program the United States admitted over 300,000 other immigrants, a substantial number of whom were escapees from Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe.

The success of the United States emergency program of assistance to Hungarian refugees stems basically from three factors: America's traditional humanitarian spirit, the dedicated work of the religious and other agencies which transformed that spirit into action, and, finally, the quality of the refugees themselves. NOTE: This statement was released at Gettysburg, Pa.

Reprinted with permission from John Wolley and Gerhard Peters of the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara at the American Presidency Project.

About The Author

This is part of the presidential paper historical series featuring past presidential public papers related to immigration law. The papers of our past Presidents show the impact of immigration law in American history. We thank the efforts of the American Presidency Project who have gathered these important archival documents.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.

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