This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Jay Nelson Tuck moderates.
Guest is New York City Council member Dr. Leonard P. Stavisky. He discusses the city's migration problems.
Panelists include Jack Parker, Mike Wall, Joe Sullivan, Barbara Benmolche.
Stavisky envision an government aid program for migrant workers. Specifically he talks about 'Negroes and Puerto Ricans' as migrant workers. He speaks of discriminatory systems - particularly the quota system. Negroes and Puerto Ricans are American citizens and must not be discriminated against.
Stavisky speaks passionately against what he calls racist attitudes. One of the panelists seems opposed to continued migration and "keeping them here through social services."
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 72085
Municipal archives id: LT8895
This is a machine-generated transcript. Text is unformatted and may contain errors.
Should the city establish migration quotas can we found quite a rican problem is the city trying to pass the buck on its migration problem should migration be discouraged or the answers to these and other questions listen now to the campus press conference every Sunday at this time editors of college newspapers question a newsworthy personality our moderator on campus press conferences the noted newspaper man and editor Jane Allison talk now to introduce the panel in today's guest here is Mr Tuck Good evening recently there has been much talk about the difficulties faced by newcomers to our city often they can find only slum housing low paying jobs and other unfortunate conditions this past week Abe stark president of the City Council proposed that the federal government farm a national migration bureau to assist the group which was to start called America's own displaced persons our guest this evening is Mr Stark's assistant Dr Leonard price stiffest. Doctors diversity acts as the council president's official representative on various boards and committees sometimes including the Board of Estimate itself is also responsible for formulating legislative programs and for furthering community relations for the council president's office doctors diversity is an associate professor of history at Long Island University and is active and many Minister Paul and civic organizations just today it was announced by Dr Robert M. McKeever the doctor's diversity has been appointed chairman of the planning board of the Community Action Program. Here tonight the question darkest of Jack Parker of the Fordham student bar association Mike Weld of the N.Y.U. squared Journal Joe Sullivan of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and Bob about most of the how to call a general show will eat up. Dr Service do you feel that Mr Stark's proposal for assisting migrants will work toward cutting down on other city welfare expenditures I believe that we definitely will see an improvement in the climate the health and welfare of the city of New York as council president Stark's program is put into effect instead of approaching it from the standpoint of providing relief for distressed families I believe that we can help them on a positive basis to become productive self-supporting members of their communities and one fortunately we have found in studies undertaken through the council president studies which I directed in his behalf that many of the minority groups in the city of New York live with in our city but are not fully a part of our community that is in areas such as housing they have been unfortunately compressed into the most slum ridden sections of the town we find that in employment eighty three percent of them have been prevented from rising above the unskilled or semi-skilled job levels we find that in health problems they live in areas which have the highest infant mortality and the highest rates of tuberculosis and other disease we find that all forms of social problems including welfare have hits these groups and unless we provide assistance and the means by which they can become fully acceptable in terms of opportunity they will continue to be. What might be termed unfortunately America's displaced persons Barbara Well there's talk now of a national program for helping migrants what would this what type of help with this they would be financial help with the education of just what was assumed. As we envision the national Migration Bill we feel that migration is not a problem confined to the city of New York migration is a national problem each year for example we have five million Americans who cross state lines we have five million more who process county lines and about one in the quarter million aliens who come into the United States was permanent or temporary residence now this represents a leaven and a quarter million people people who have to be provided for in housing in employment in education in often in preparation for living in new communities the new communities have to be prepared to accept them and they have to be prepared to meet the laws and responsibilities of the new communities now we're advocating the establishment of regional field offices in all sections of the country and then these regional field offices information would be made available to people planning to move to a new community as to what the job opportunities are what are the housing opportunities calmly find out equip apartments I'd like rentals can they find these apartments are people with a certain type of skill needed are other people in the surf plus supply within that community Barber I don't think that you would you would go even so far as making a trip to another city I don't think that you would go to this other city unless you had a road map showing you the weather possibilities there you would check with the Automobile Club and you'd find out what the road conditions are in the travelling time you'd want to know all that you possibly could about this new can about the destination and it's just as important when someone wants to take an entire family to a new community to know realistically what the situation will be in the new community well how in this. I mean all right so you have the Euros How would you get the people to evaluate the cells of their you know on the facilities of the Bureau to find out the information because the things that the migrants that you're talking about are on the lower socioeconomic level and you have to educate them first is there any plan for this yes there would be the availability of information people would get to know very quickly that there is a place to which they can turn people today for example know that on any traveling problem there is a facility a private agency known as Travelers Aid Now this in effect is a form of Travelers Aid which would assist the new arrival when he gets here which would deal with the new arrival who already is here we envision this as a joint responsibility by the federal government and by the municipality we feel lead both levels of government have a responsibility to cooperate in this with matching funds our formula calls for fifty percent from the federal government for these programs and services and the remaining fifty percent to be provided by the state and the local community. Just doctors Levinsky and we're dealing primarily with the migrants as a group. Isn't there always going to be someone down at the bottom of the scale and isn't this or has a traditionally been the system in our country where the migrating group or the last group over here does fill this bottom position and there is a need for this unskilled labor there's definitely a need for the unskilled labor in order to service our restaurants our hotels and laundries and other service industries our construction programs and so forth all of these need them we find that the garment industry New York's number one industry needs a large supply of factory labor but I do not believe and I don't think any fair minded person believes that the. Hallmark for being in this bottom rung of the socioeconomic ladder should be a man's race his religion or his national origin this I believe is wrong and we find an overwhelming preponderance of the occupants of this area concentrated in the two groups of negroes and Puerto Ricans I don't believe that that's merely because of the fact that their Negroes are Puerto Ricans I believe that our country is based upon the system that the last one in is generally comprised of unskilled laborers who couldn't make a go of it in their own country and are coming over into our various cities here this is the reason not merely because they are racially a certain group while I would not like to see them remain indefinitely in the state of limbo I think that our our entire system is based upon equality of opportunity. It isn't true that the lot of these migrants right now is not a good one and therefore how are you going to improve the situation by permitting them to continue migrating to the city might it not be a better idea to savage quotas to cut down on the migration and try improve the situation here before you admit more hordes of migrants speaking from the standpoint of a professor of history I daresay that I you and a great many of the people in this room might not be here if our ancestors our parents our grandparents and I'm great parent grandparents had been limited to a quota system. I don't believe in the quota system I don't believe in the national origins Act which is based upon a discriminatory quota system and I believe certainly that we can have no quota system when we quotas deal with American citizens negroes and Puerto Ricans coming to the city of New York to Chicago to Detroit to California to any part of the United States are already American citizens when they arrive when they arrive and no American citizen can be denied the freedom of movement to which he is entitled as a citizen and as a human being we are not asking to win coverage but we have no right no legal moral or any other right to tell an American citizen that he may not go from one community to another he has that right to do so. Well let's leave to another question doctors to the skill a little while ago Judge Samuel Alito it's proposed that the city not set up quotas but try the one prospective new commas take out ads in Puerto Rican newspapers perhaps or in Southern papers read by May gross of the bad conditions that are faced by minorities here to discourage people from coming in false optimism What do you think of that suggestion Well I think that thinking a realistic and a human picture can certainly be done by the National migration bureau as a strict informational service without editorializing without slanting the reporting now right now for example the Department of Labor the Department of Commerce the City Planning Commission and other agencies of the city state and national government do have statistical information on employment and housing conditions unfortunately much of this information is very technically prepared and isn't simple and easy to understand what we need is basic simple easily understandable information however I know that Judge Liebowitz had certain other recommendations including a belief that a one year residence requirement would be essential now we recognize the nature of the problem I think we recognize that the Negroes in Puerto Ricans in New York City and in other communities as well. I do have certain handicaps I do not believe however that the answer to that problem lies in the suggestion of a one year residence requirement I do not believe that any city administration here in New York or outside of the city of New York whether it be Democratic or Republican would want to see children starving on the streets simply because their parents had not lived in a community for three hundred sixty five days I don't see any sense any legal or moral sense to that type of attitude we will not let these children starve and I don't think that with or without a residence law it will make any difference Joe Dr civility assuming that this federal migration incident is set up on it would be my impression that it would tend to centralize its activities in the major migration centers and don't you think that such a program would when put into effect or if put into effect tend to encourage migration into an area when the real solution is to try and discouraging I think but the answer to your question lies in the very first paragraph of President stark statement at last Monday's migration conference held at city hall and I'd like to read that one sentence president stark in addressing sixty two heads of civic social and religious agencies in the city stated and I quote without encouraging or discouraging the right of any American citizen to move from one community to another we must deal realistically and humanely with the problems of housing education employment health and social adjustment facing hundreds of thousands of newcomers already in the city of New York we are not. Speaking now in terms of. Or future migrants to New York we are speaking about up to four hundred thousand persons of Negro and Puerto Rican background who have come to the city of New York during the past decade alone these already are in the city of New York do we doomed them to the denial of opportunity in these fields or do we make it possible for them to be given the rights of improvement that we have given to every American citizen and group in the past. Yes I. Certainly recognize and appreciate his statement that the right of citizens to cross from state lines in a legal sense should not be barred or hindered in any way and agree with that but the legal question doesn't seem to be the important one here it's the should we do anything illegal. I'm just saying that you're saying a legal criteria upon Mr Stark is his determination of whether people should or should not come into this area they are here. They are here and that such as set up would tend in my opinion to attract many more where and also try to maintain the ones who are here and the fact is that they are depressed and that more would only add further to the unemployment and or lower wage situation that now exists and would would in my opinion only be extended keeping them in this area through social services now I'm not saying to eliminate them I'm just saying that this doesn't appear to me to be the and all of solutions you know whether without any program we will probably have this week and next week close to one thousand no arrivals coming in per week. We can leave them to their own devices we can say that society the city and government have no responsibility towards them I think that if we adopt this isolation the status to here in our city we will be making the same mistake but we did and following a policy of isolation during the one nine hundred thirty S. when we recognized that no country can live alone I recall very vividly the full impact and full meaning of. A very significant statement which Franklin Roosevelt uttered in his first inaugural address on March fourth one thousand nine hundred eighty three when he said in the field of world policy I would dedicate this nation to the policy of the good neighbor the neighbor who resolutely respects himself and because he does so respects the rights of others now I think we need basically in this entire issue the application of the good neighbor policy here right at home. Barbara one of the things that's bothered me is that I'm basically agreeing with your idea that monarchy group just because they're a minority group should be discriminated against on the other hand if you have a minority group which is migrating and they are on their own then the only labor that they can have that they can get is unskilled labor now Iraq how can you change this thr