John J. O’Grady, Executive Secretary of the NCCC, “Address Before the Syracuse Citizens Committee on Displaced Persons, Hotel Onondaga, Syracuse, New York: The Challenge of Displaced Persons to the People of the United States,” January 10, 1948

Bishop Mulloy welcomes DP children disembarking at Ellis Island

Bishop Mulloy greets a DP family at Ellis Island in a publicity photo, Bruce M. Mohler papers

As the issue of Displaced Persons (DPs) solidified in the postwar years, the US Catholic bishops also arrived at a new understanding of their potential role in the massive project of resettlement. John J. O’Grady, in this speech before a local organization dedicated to helping DPs, manages to sum up most of the central issues of the situation. Basically, O’Grady says that the DPs cannot go back to Soviet-dominated countries, nor can they simply be absorbed into the economy of West Germany, which has barely enough material to support its own people.

Echoing a theme heard elsewhere, O’Grady says that people cannot be leisurely about finding new homes for the refugees, or else they will become disillusioned and eventually very difficult to integrate back into ordinary society. Current US laws on immigration are also too narrow and restrictive, and will only complicate and delay the resettlement process. It is precisely the mission of the US Catholic bishops, then, as well as the mission of other religious denominations, to make Americans aware of this humanitarian crisis and to awaken their generosity, before it is too late.

Address on Displaced Persons by Rev. John J. O'Grady, Executive Secretary of the NCCC, before the Syracuse Citizens Committee on Displaced Persons, January 10, 1948

O'Grady address on displaced persons

 

Questions:

  • How many DPs does O’Grady say can be admitted each year under current nation of origin quotas? Does he think this number is sufficient?
  • When O’Grady speaks of the DPs as having upright characters that enabled them to resist Communism, to which well-known figures from American history does he compare them?
  • Are the children among the DPs generally orphaned and unaccompanied, or with a family, according to this speech?

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