According to a historian at The American University (Washington DC), the family of Anne Frank, the adolescent diarist of the holocaust, could not qualify for US refugee status:
Otto Frank’s efforts to get his family to the United States ran afoul of restrictive American immigration policies designed to protect national security and guard against an influx of foreigners during time of war. The State Department frequently reduced the number of immigration visas granted below the annual quota levels (set for each European nation by the basic immigration law) by enforcing strict immigration regulations. Those seeking to save themselves had to search for credible American sponsors, accumulate funds for overseas travel,and convince American consuls and State Department officials that they would be a benefit, and not a burden or a threat to the country.
Concerned by the rise of the Nazis, the Frank family left their native Germany in 1933 to live in Amsterdam. In 1942 the family went into hiding, as described in Anne’s The Diary of a Young Girl. In 1944 they were betrayed, transported to Bergen-Belsen where Anne died in the late winter of 1945 at fifteen years of age.
In July 1944 she wrote,
It’s difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart. It’s utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death. I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more. In the meantime, I must hold on to my ideals.
Seventy years later US refugee policy and procedure continues to challenge the hopes and ideals of many thousands.