The Lights of Miami

Requests Unanswered

"They were so excited again."

"So slowly, but surely, they pulled up their anchor. They were headed for Florida, because they were hoping the United States would be more compassionate. When they got to the coast of Florida, or close to it, they could see the lights of Miami, and they were so excited again. But they sent a telegram-- the captain did-- to President Roosevelt, and there was no reply. And then eventually they heard from the State Department that despite the fact that all of these people had some documents to the United States, they hadn’t met all of the immigration requirements. They would have to be sent back to their respective countries until their quota number was available, and that the United States had accepted all of the refugees from Germany for that year."

Editor's Note: Negotiations continued as the St. Louis sailed slowly up the coast of the United States. The Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) continued to plead with the Cuban governemnt to re-open negotiations and sent telegrams to the U.S. State Department as well as the White House requesting asylum for the refugees aboard the ship. Individual passengers appealed to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and American citizens also appealed on behalf of their relatives.

However, on June 8, 1939, A.M. Warren of the State Department cabled “The German refugees… must await their turns on the waiting list and qualify for and obtain immigration visas before they may be admissible into the United States.”



Excerpt from Minutes of the Meeting of the JDC Executive Committeepdf / 1.63 MB Download