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US immigration legislation online


1948 Displaced Persons Act (An act to authorize for a limited period of time the admission into the United States of certain European displaced persons for permanent residence, and for other purposes)

S. 224; Pub.L. 80-774; 62 Stat. 1009.

80th Congress; June 25, 1948.

You can find the full text of this law here and here or download the PDF.



This act helped those individuals who were victims of persecution by the Nazi government or who were fleeing persecution, and someone who could not go back to their country because of fear of persecution based on race, religion or political opinions. This act dealt directly with Germany, Austria, and Italy, the French sector of either Berlin or Vienna or the American or British Zone and a native of Czechoslovakia. These individuals were granted permanent residency and employment without making someone give up their current job. The displaced person could bring their family with them as long as they were “good” citizens who could stay out of jail and provide financially for themselves without public assistance. The spouse and children under twenty one is eligible for permanent residency. A child who was under the age of sixteen who became an orphan because their parents either went missing or died would also be cared for by the U.S. Two thousand visas were to be granted for those who qualified as a displaced person. If someone was in the U.S. prior to April 1, 1948 they could apply to the Attorney General to overlook their status to possibly become a permanent resident.

(Summary by Michelle Hinojosa)



Special Message to the Congress on Aid for Refugees and Displaced Persons - A message from President Truman that outlined both the pros and cons of passing the Displaced Persons Act in 1948.

The Aftermath of the Holocaust - A fist hand account of what Anglo-American and Soviet troops saw when they entered the concentration camps and saw the fear and anti-Semitism the Jewish survivors dealt with daily.

Displaced Persons - Describes first hand accounts what the Holocaust survivors went through.


Many thanks to Hein Online for document provision, and The University of Washington-Bothell Library, for arranging web hosting. If you have any questions about this site, please contact the course instructor, Sarah Starkweather, at sarah [dot] starkweather [at] gmail [dot] com.