Debating Immigration: Wagner-Rogers Bill

Passengers aboard the MS St. Louis, 1939, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum


Following World War I, the United States implemented immigration quotas to quell economic and social fears. Anti-Semitism grew in proportion to the impact of the Great Depression. The Wagner-Rogers Congressional Bill of 1939 proposed admitting 20,000 additional German children into the U.S. Lack of diplomatic action and productive debate resulted in Congress’ failure to support the bill, engendering a 1944 Cabinet report shaming the U.S. into forming the War Refugee Board.