American Committee for the Protection of Foreign Born

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The American Committee for Protection of Foreign Born (1933-1982), based in New York City, was founded for the purpose of defending the rights of the foreign born, especially radicals and Communist Party members, thereby filling a void left by other civil rights defense groups. The Committee's formation was initiated by Roger Baldwin of the American Civil Liberties Union. The Committee pursued its aims through litigation, legislation and public education. In its early years, the Committee's activity focused of campaigning for asylum rights for those refugees who had fled European fascism in the 1930s and were facing deportation. Although no legislative changes were won at this time, ACPFB victories for individuals set precedents and aroused public support. Toward the end of the decade, the ACPFB formed a group to protect those who had gone to Spain to fight against Franco and who had entered or re-entered the United States illegally. With the outbreak of World War II, the Committee's attentions turned toward promoting national unity against fascism. The ACPFB also aided Japanese Americans who were being forcibly removed and incarcerated by the U.S. government, though removal and incarceration themselves were not opposed. The major individual defense case during the war years was that of CPUSA leader William Schneiderman, whose naturalization was cancelled due to his membership in the Young Workers' League and the Workers' Party. The ACPFB won a reversal of the cancellation in 1943. The Committee also defended the Australian-born labor leader, Harry Bridges, against deportation starting in 1940. At the end of the war in 1945, the Committee began to work to abolish racial discrimination in immigration policy, and to reform immigration law, with special consideration for foreign born individuals who had served in the armed forces or in the merchant marine. It also worked to strengthen progressive currents among the foreign born that had been weakened by postwar anti-Communist propaganda.

The advent of the Cold War saw increased efforts to deport foreign born trade unionists and Communists, and attacks on the ACPFB itself. In June of 1948, Attorney General Tom C. Clark added the ACPFB to his department's list of "subversive" organizations. With the passage of the McCarran Internal Security Act in 1950 and the McCarran-Walter Immigration Act of 1952, the Committee's activity became increasingly geared toward the defense of Communist Party members. In 1950, Attorney General Brownell applied to the Subversive Activities Control Board (established under the McCarran Act) to require the ACPFB to register as a Communist Party front organization. In 1951, the Committee's executive secretary, Abner Green, was imprisoned for six months for his refusal to submit the names of the Committee's contributors to a Federal grand jury in New York. The death of Carol King, the Committee's general counsel, after ten years of service to the ACPFB, made the Committee's work more difficult. In 1955, Abner Green was ordered to appear before the New York State Supreme Court on the ground that the Committee was violating the law that applied to charitable organizations. The court proceedings ran for two years at the end of which the New York State Supreme Court secured an ex parte injunction restraining the Committee from all activities including receiving and spending money. The injunction was lifted later that month, but the Committee continued to be enjoined from public solicitation of funds.

Although its subsequent registration as a charitable organization (with the stipulation that it would not release the names of its donors) allowed the Committee to commence again its solicitation of funds, the effects of these attacks were crippling. The Committee was forced to give up either its direct defense of foreign born in courts or its general work in areas of public opinion and legislation. The Committee decided to preserve activity in the latter area.

The 1957 Supreme Court decision to reverse the deportation of Charles Rowoldt (defended by the Minnesota Committee for Protection of Foreign Born), which had been ordered on the ground of membership in the Communist Party, was the first victory of its kind in the ACPFB's history. It paved the way for future successes. Although the revision or repeal of the McCarran-Walter Act remained a major focus of the Committee's activity, by 1960 the issue of political deportations had receded significantly into the background.

The 1960s brought an increasing focus on the discriminatory treatment of Mexican immigrants and West Indian workers, an issue the Committee had begun to devote attention to a decade earlier, as Latin American immigrants were increasingly subject to illegal harassment by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). The ACPFB also campaigned against deportation through the establishment of a statute of limitation, the elimination of supervisory parole and the defense of the right of the foreign born to free speech and association. Efforts on behalf of Latin American immigrant workers continued and intensified in the next decades as INS raids and round-ups increased. Numerous pamphlets, leaflets, petitions, press releases and demonstrations denounced and demanded an end to "dragnet immigration raids," and the scapegoating of aliens. Much of this action centered around the campaign to defeat the Rodino Bill, and later the Field-Knorr Bill, both of which proposed the establishment of sanctions against employers of "illegal" aliens.

The Committee also defended the right of Haitian refugees to political asylum. In 1977 it welcomed a Federal Grand Jury ruling that random street arrests by the INS were illegal. Successes were also won in the late 1970s in the area of the right to public education for children regardless of their parents' immigration status. In 1982 the ACPFB was absorbed by the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee and formally dissolved.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Davis, Samuel K., 1899-1968. Samuel K. Davis papers, 1919-1980. Minnesota Historical Society, Division of Archives and Manuscripts
referencedIn Guide to the Abraham Unger Papers, 1936-1980 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
creatorOf American Committee for Protection of Foreign Born. Correspondence with Franz Werfel, 1943. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Jerome, V. J. (Victor Jeremy), 1896-1965. Victor Jeremy Jerome papers, 1923-1967 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn J. B. Matthews Papers, 1862-1986 and undated David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
referencedIn George B. Leonard papers., 1876-1957. Minnesota Historical Society
creatorOf Naiman, Max, 1903-. Max Naiman papers, 1923-1975. Chicago History Museum
referencedIn William Pickens papers (Additions), 1909-1950 The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.
referencedIn Pickens, William, 1881-1954. William Pickens papers (Additions), 1909-1950. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Haitian Refugee collection, 1972-2004 The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.
creatorOf American Committee for Protection of Foreign Born. Collection, 1933-1972 1933-1951. Swarthmore College, Peace Collection, SCPC
creatorOf Wojsowski, Anthony. Anthony Wojsowski papers, (1921-1978), bulk 1920s-1930s, and 1950s. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
creatorOf American Committee for Protection of Foreign Born. American Committee for Protection of Foreign Born : file of clippings and miscellanea. Michigan State University Libraries, Main Library
referencedIn Guide to the Carol Weiss King FOIA Files, 1941-1952, 1988 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
creatorOf Guide to the Records of the American Committee for Protection of Foreign Born, 1935-1980 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Marion S. Kinney papers, circa 1940-1981 University of Washington Libraries Special Collections
creatorOf Hall, Gordon,. Left-wing Single Issues Printed Propaganda, [ca. 1950-1990]. Brown University Archives, John Hay Library
creatorOf American Committee for Protection of Foreign Born. Flyers, 1950 & 1969. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Gollobin, Ira, 1911-. Haitian Refugee collection, 1972-2004. New York Public Library System, NYPL
Gollobin, Ira, 1911-. Haitian Refugee collection, 1972-2004. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Guide to the Records of the American Committee for Protection of Foreign Born, 1935-1980 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Naomi Achenbach Benson papers, 1895-1961, 1935-1961 University of Washington Libraries Special Collections
referencedIn Schlesinger, Hymen, 1903-1976. Papers of Hymen Schlesinger, 1927-1990. University of Pittsburgh
referencedIn Robert E. Burke collection, 1892-1994 University of Washington Libraries Special Collections
referencedIn Smith, Francis Monroe, 1904-1951. Francis Monroe Smith papers, 1936-1951. Minnesota Historical Society Library
referencedIn Anthony Wojsowski papers, 1921-1978, 1920s-1930s, and 1950s. Bentley Historica Library University of Michigan
referencedIn Guide to the Charles Recht Papers, 1907-1976 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Harvey O'Connor Civil Liberties collection, O'Connor (Harvey) Civil Liberties Collection, between 1966 and 1972 John Hay Library, Special Collections
creatorOf American Committee for Protection of Foreign Born. American Committee for Protection of Foreign Born records, 1926-1980. University of Michigan
referencedIn Samuel K. Davis papers, 1919-1980. Minnesota Historical Society
referencedIn Leonard, George B., 1872-1956. George B. Leonard papers, 1876-1957. Minnesota Historical Society, Division of Archives and Manuscripts
creatorOf Guide to the Ira Gollobin Papers, circa 1940-1990 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Earl Browder Papers, 1879-1990 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
referencedIn Benson, Naomi Achenbach. Naomi Achenbach Benson papers, 1895-1961 (bulk 1935-1961). University of Washington Libraries
referencedIn Peter Gulbrandsen Papers, 1917-1954 Bancroft Library
referencedIn O'Connor, Harvey, 1897-1987. Harvey O'Connor Civil Liberties Collection, 1966-1972. Brown University Archives, John Hay Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Civil Liberties Union. corporateBody
associatedWith American Committee for Protection of Foreign Born. Minnesota Chapter. corporateBody
associatedWith Baldwin, Roger Nash, 1884-1981. person
associatedWith Barron, Harriet. person
associatedWith Belfrage, Cedric, 1904- person
associatedWith Benson, Naomi Achenbach person
associatedWith Benson, Naomi Achenbach. person
associatedWith Bimba, Anthony person
associatedWith Bimba, Anthony. person
associatedWith Bridges, Harry, 1901- person
associatedWith Browder, Earl, 1891-1973 person
associatedWith Burke, Robert E. (Robert Eugene), 1921-1998 person
associatedWith Chew, Kwong Hai. person
associatedWith Davis, Samuel K., 1899-1968 person
associatedWith Davis, Samuel K., 1899-1968. corporateBody
associatedWith Gollobin, Ira, 1911- person
associatedWith Green, Abner. person
associatedWith Green, Abner, 1913- person
associatedWith Green, Leon, 1888- person
correspondedWith Gulbrandsen, Peter, 1890- person
associatedWith International Labor Defense. corporateBody
associatedWith Japanese American Committee for Democracy. corporateBody
associatedWith Jerome, V. J. (Victor Jeremy), 1896-1965. person
associatedWith Joseph, Albrecht, 1901-1991. person
associatedWith King, Carol Weiss, 1895-1952 person
associatedWith Kinney, Marion S. person
associatedWith Leonard, George B., 1872-1956. person
associatedWith Matthews, J. B. (Joseph Brown), 1894-1966 person
associatedWith Michigan State University. Library. American Radicalism Collection. corporateBody
associatedWith Morgan, Dwight C. person
associatedWith Moulton, Arthur. person
associatedWith Naiman, Max, 1903- person
associatedWith National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith O'Connor, Harvey, 1897-1987. person
associatedWith Pickens, William, 1881-1954 person
associatedWith Pickens, William, 1881-1954. person
associatedWith Provinzano, Annette. person
associatedWith Recht, Charles. person
associatedWith Rowoldt, Charles. person
associatedWith Rowoldt, Charles. person
associatedWith Schlesinger, Hymen, 1903-1976. person
associatedWith Schneiderman, William. person
associatedWith Smith, Francis Monroe, 1904-1951. person
associatedWith Smith, Louise Pettibone, 1887- person
associatedWith Stewart, Donald Ogden, 1894-1980. person
associatedWith Swarthmore College. Peace Collection. corporateBody
associatedWith Tamiment Library. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Subversive Activities Control Board. corporateBody
associatedWith Wojsowski, Anthony. person
associatedWith Wojsowski, Anthony. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
New York City NY US
United States 00 US
Subject
Aliens
Aliens
Asylum, Right of
Asylum, Right of
Citizenship
Civil rights
Civil rights
Communists
Communists
Emigration and immigration law
Emigration and immigration law
Foreign workers
Immigrants
Immigrants
Immigrants
Immigrants
Immigrants
Immigrants
Japanese Americans
Labor leaders
Labor leaders
Lawyers
Naturalization
Political refugees
Political refugees
Political refugees
Radicals
Radicals
United States. Congress. House. Committee on Un
Occupation
Activity
Committees

Corporate Body

Establishment 1933

Disestablishment 1982

English

Information

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