Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

he becomes naturalized as an American citizen. He must promise to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies." ”

THE SCHWIMMER CASE But last year Mme. Rosika Schwimmer, a Hungarian pacifist, was denied naturalization because she said she would not fight. She was over 50 years of age at the time, so she would not have been compelled to fight, even if she had been a man and been drafted.

But the Supreme Court of the United States declared in her case that “ defend” meant to bear arms and that willingness to bear arms in defense of the United States was a fundamental principle of the Constitution.

Consequently, the Labor Department has had no choice but to deny citizenship to all who would not promise to fight. It appears that this rule is bearing hardly on women, for women seem to be natural pacifists. Efforts to change what seems to be the crucial test for citizenship—willingness to fight—are being made by those in Congress who feel that with the United States pledged under the Kellogg pact to “ renounce war as an instrument of national policy” the United States should not at the same time refuse citizenship to those who are unwilling to wage war.

VOICES ALARM

“The bearing of arms does not make a nation strong and successful,” says Mr. Sinclair. “It alarms me that this question of willingness to fight is getting to be the crux of our naturalization policy."

Representative Griffin of New York, himself a veteran, looks at it from a different angle, but arrives at the same conclusion. He thinks naturalization should have nothing to do with fighting. Let in worthy applicants for citizen. ship, and then if war comes let the new citizen share whatever duties and responsibilities arise, says Mr. Griffin. He isn't a “pacifist” in the accepted meaning of the word, but he has introduced in the House a bill providing that naturalization shall not be denied to otherwise desirable applicants “because of their religious or philosophical views on war."

Despite the antagonism of the Immigration and Naturalization Committee leaders of the House, he made them set a date for a hearing on the bill, and numerous organizations and individuals came to Washington to testify in its favor. Mr. Taft died just then and the hearing was postponed. Mr. Griffin has vainly asked for another date. The chairman of the committee, Representative Johnson of Washington, wrote Mr. Griffin an evasive letter, saying that he couldn't set a date because he wanted to get other business of the committee cleaned up. Nor is it possible to find out who is against the bill. The committee clerk says there have been numerous applications from those wishing to appear in opposition, but is unable to name any.

It is supposed that the “patriotic” organizations will be the backbone of the opposition. Meantime Mr. Griffin has a daily lengthening list of proponents of his bill, including the Federal Council of Churches, numerous pacifist sects, like the Quakers and Dunkards, the Civil Liberties Union, the Socialist Party of America, the League for Independent Political Action, the League for American Citizenship, several pacifist organizations, such as the Council for the Prevention of War and the International League for Peace and Freedom, the Y. W. C. A. of New York and the District of Columbia, the League of Women Voters of New York, and such publications as the Day, the New Republic, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Nation.

Representative Sinclair is to be one of the witnesses. He has one prize exhibit, a constituent of his, Mrs. Zoe Harris Boe of his home town of Kenmare, N. Dak. She is a born and bred American, as are her people before her. She is a Dunkard, a sect which does not believe in war.

THE CASE OF MRS. BOE

Before the passage of the Cable Act, which set up the principle of the separate nationality of women, Zoe Harris married Jorgen Boe, also a Dunkard, and not an American, though he lived in Kenmare. As soon as he could, Boe was naturalized, no particular questions about fighting being asked, for the furore over fighting had not then been stirred up. But this naturalization took place

after the passage of the Cable Act, and the Cable Act declares that a woman does not take the nationality of her husband, but must set up separate naturali. zation status.

Therefore, Mrs. Boe, who had lost her citizenship, willy-nilly, when she married an alien husband, was left outside the pale when that alien husband became an American. And remember that all this took place while she was staying right here in her home town. She never left this country.

Finally she decided to become a “naturalized " citizen of her native country. But by this time-it was last September—the decision of the Supreme Court in the Schwimmer case had tightened up the Labor Department to watch for women pacifists, and so Mrs. Boe was asked if she would fight. When the said no, that her religion forbade it, she was denied naturalization.

She remains an alien to-day, back in Kenmare, and Representative Sinclair is going to tell Congress what he thinks of such a situation.

He hopes that the Griffin bill will be passed, so that all such cases may be taken care of; but if it does not, or is unduly delayed, then he is going to bring in a separate bill, providing for the naturalization of Mrs. Boe. If he can ever get such a bill up for consideration it would probably be a test case, for if an exception were made for her, then it would lead to a host of others, and finally to a general reversal of policy. So the Boe case may become as famous as the Schwimmer case, or that of Martha Jane Graber, the Ohio nurse, who, having come to this country as a child of German parents, was refused naturalization when she came of age because she said she would not fight.

"I can not kill, but I would be willing to give my life for the United States," she said. She would go to the front as a nurse and try to save life, and she would shed her blood if necessary, she replied to the questioning Judge, but she would not kill a human being. So she was denied citizenship.

DENIED ON RELIGIOUS GROUNDS

There was also Margaret Dorland Webb of Indiana, who was denied citizenship because she is a Quaker and would not promise to fight. These cases have all been gathered by Representative Cable, who is a member of the Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, and regarded as an authority on the troublous question of the nationality of women, Being a member of the committee which will deal with the Griffin bill, he does not take any stand in regard to that bill as yet, but is gathering all possible information as to the effect that the present rule is having on women.

If the Griffin bill or a similar bill does not pass Mme. Schwimmer will not stay in the United States.

“I am tired of being a woman without a country,” she says. I renounced my Hungarian citizenship when I made my application for citizenship in the United States. I have been denied this citizenship for years, and unless the Griffin bill passes I see no chance of achieving it. I do not want to stay in a country where I am not wanted. I do not know where I will go. I wanted to be naturalized here because I admire and love the form of government of the United States.

"I am taking no active part in the fight for the Griffin bill, for I do not think it becoming in an alien to interfere in these matters, but I am naturally vitally anxious for its passage and will do all I can for it from the sidelines."

There is strong sentiment against the principle of the Griffin bill. Senator Steck of Iowa introduced a bill, right after the Griffin bill providing for a change of the oath of allegiance, so that a willingness to bear arms would be stated in so many words.

Senator Walsh of Montana, the constitutional authority of the Senate, says the Griffin bill is unconstitutional, inasmuch as it seeks to contravene the Supreme Court's decision that to bear arms is a constitutional requirement in a citizen. So even if the Griffin bill passes, it may be thrown out of court. The only finality would be a change in the constituency of the Supreme Court itself, which would decide that “defend ” did not necessarily mean fight.

The attitude of the majority of the present Supreme Court on questions such as this is the reason for some of the opposition to the appointment of additional reactionaries, and it may be that the feeling aroused by the cases of these women pacifists may revise the personnel of the Supreme bench itself. “We've never asked our women to fight yet, and I'm not willing to begin now, Supreme Court or no Supreme Court," says Representative Sinclair.

[The New York Times, Sunday, April 13, 1930)

THE DEMAND OF WOMEN FOR EQUAL CITIZENSHIP-REMOVAL OF DISCRIMINATIONS

AGAINST THEM IS TO COME UP AGAIN AT WASHINGTON WHERE A NATURALIZATION LAW AMENDMENT IS PENDING

Women the world over are demanding equality in citizenship with men. Such equality has been under discussion at The Hague, where delegates from 50 nations are endeavoring to codify international law, at the same time the House of Representatives is considering a bill which aims to restore by a simple process the nationality of American women who have lost their citizenship right by marriage to aliens prior to 1922. In the following article Représentative Cable, member of the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, sets forth the effect of our naturalization and citizenship laws with respect to women.

[By John L. Cable]

Recently the United States Supreme Court denied Rosika Schwimmer the right to take the oath of allegiance and become a naturalized citizen. Madame Schwimmer was born in Austria in 1877. In August, 1921, she entered the United States. The following November she declared her intention to become a citizen, and in 1926 filed her petition for naturalization.

As amended by the naturalization act of 1906, the oath of allegiance requires the petitioner to promise to "support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Of course, between 1906 and September 22, 1922, very few women were required to take the oath in order to become citizens, inasmuch as the marriage of an alien woman to a citizen of the United States, or the naturalization of her alien husband, automatically made her a citizen also. Since 1922, however, because of the law granting independent citizenship to women, alien men and women both have had to take the oath of allegiance before being paturalized.

As a part of every petition for naturalization there is a list of printed ques. tions to be answered by the declarant. The answers to these questions show whether or not the petitioner is attached to the principles of the Constitution, as is required by the naturalization law.

THE CASE OF MADAME SCHWIMMER

66

Question 24 asks, If necessary, are you willing to take up arms in defense of this country?” To this question Madame Schwimmer replied, “I would not take up arms personally.”.

The court refused to permit her to take the oath to complete her naturalization, holding that it could not confer citizenship upon her because of the mental reservations indicated by her reply to question 24. However, the case was appealed to higher court, where the decision was reversed.

Later, the case was carried to the Supreme Court of the United States, and a majority of that court held that the lower court had correctly denied Rosika Schwimmer the privilege of becoming a citizen. The court held, first, that she had failed to prove that her avowed pacifism and lack of nationalistic sense did not conflict with the priciple that it is the duty of every citizen, when necessary by force of arms, to defend the country against its enemies. In the second place, the court found that her objection to military service was for reasons other than mere inability personally to bear arms because of her age and sex.

Similar cases are those of Martha Jane Graber and Margaret Webb, both of whom are Quakers.

As has frequently happened, the decisions in these cases shifted the forum from the courts to the legislative chambers of the Nation. Only two days after the decision in the Schwimmer case was handed down, Congressman Anthony J. Griffin, of New York, introduced in the House a bill to amend the naturalization laws by providing that no person otherwise qualified should be clebarred from citizenship because of his or her religious views or philosophical opinions concerning the lawfulness of war as a means of settling international disputes. This bill was referred to the Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, of which Representative Albert Johnson, of Washington, is chairman,

BILL FAVORED AND OPPOSED

Chairman Johnson received hundreds of telegrams and letters from all over the country. Churches, the International League for Peace and Freedom, the Society of Friends, the Socalist Party of America, and many other organizations strongly urged the passage of this bill. But with equal force opposition to its passage came from the American Coalition Committee, the American Legion and its auxiliary, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and mony other patriotic organizations.

One of the strongest expressions of opposition was made by the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York. Its resolution stated that since “it is most repugnant to the Constitution and our form of government that aliens seeking advantage of United States citizenship should be accorded exemptions, benefits, or privileges of any kind not also possessed by our native born or descendants of early settlers," the Griffin bill or any other similar measure should not be enacted.

Senator Daniel F. Steck, of Iowa, also has introduced a bill on this subject. His is the antithesis of the Griffin bill. He would require every alien to declare as part of the oath “ that when called upon he will bear arms in defense of the United States, its Constitution, and its laws; and that he will, without reservation, aid and encourage the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic."

These two bills, along with the Schwimmer, Graber, and Webber cases, have focused public attention on the alleged inapplicability of our oath of allegiance to women petitioning for naturalization. The question of modifying our naturlization law is raised. Proponents of the change argue that, since we have exempted native-born conscietious objectors from military service, we should not require aliens of like belief to do something which we do not require of our own citizens. Opponents of modification point out that citizenship is of a dual character; it confers rights and imposes obligations. A citizen possesses the right of protection by his country, and he in turn owes that country a duty to aid and defend it in time of stress.

An alien has no right to become a citizen, although the privilege may be extended to him. The Government, and not the alien, shall dictate the terms of that privilege.

For the most part, our naturalization laws regarding the citizenship rights of women are the result of court decisions. It is yet to be scen if the decisions in the Schwimmer, Graber, and Webber cases will influence legislation concerning the oath of allegiance.

One of the earliest cases to influence legislation of naturalization was that of Nellie Grant, daughter of the President and Mrs. Grant. In 1874, Miss Grant married Algernon C. F. Sartoris, a subject of the Queen of Great Britain. Under the law of Great Britain, Miss Grant became a British subject by that marriage.

NO WAY TO REPATRIATION

[ocr errors]

Upon the death of her husband, Mrs. Sartoris wished again to become an American citizen. But the statute books contained no provision for the repatriation of an American woman who had been expatriated by her marriage to a foreigner. To take care of Mrs. Sartoris, Congress, in May of 1898, passed the following joint resolution :

"Therefore, be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That Nellie Grant Sartoris, daughter of Gen. U. S. Grant, be, and she is hereby, on her own application unconditionally readmitted to the character and privileges of a citizen of the United States in accordance with the provisions of Article III of the convention relative to naturalization between the United States and Great Britain concluded May 13, 1870."

The defect in the law, exposed by this case, was corrected by the act of 1907, wherein it is provided that any woman who lost her citizenship by marriage to an alien might, if the marital status be terminated by death or

divorce, resume her American citizenship by registering as an American citizen at a United States consulate, or by returning to this country and continuing to reside here.

An all-important case is that of Mrs. Gordon Mackenzie, a native-born Californian who married a British subject in 1909 and continued to reside in California. By the terms of the act of 1907, “any woman who marries a foreigner shall take the nationality of her husband.”

BULING IN MACKENZIE CASE

Gordon Mackenzie did not become a naturalized citizen of the United States. Nevertheless, on January 22, 1913, Mrs. Mackenzie made application to the board of election in San Francisco for registration as a voter. She was over 21 years of age and had resided in San Francisco more than the required 90 days. But the board of election refused to permit her to be registered, stating that Mrs. Mackenzie had by her marriage to a foreigner, under the 1907 act, ceased to be a citizen of the United States.

Forthwith she carried her case to court, contending that because of her birth in the United States, American citizenship, by the terms of the fourteenth amendment, was a constitutional right that could not be taken from her by a mere act of Congress. The case finally reached the Supreme Court of the United States. There it was held that altliough the Constitution did confer citizenship upon all persons born in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, and although citizenship was an incident to her birth, yet it was not such a right, privilege, or immunity that it could not be taken away by act of Congress.

Mrs. Mackenzie further contended that expatriation was a 2-party process, that no one could lose his citizenship except by the consent of his govern. ment, and that, on the other hand, no person could be deprived of his citizenship by statute unless he gave his consent. She had not renounced her allegiance to the United States, nor had she sought naturalization in some other country. Therefore, she argued, she remained a citizen of the United States. But in Justice McKenna's opinion the court pointed out that while hers was the proper interpretation of the old common law rule, that law had been changed by statute. The newer developments in the law permitted the citizen to renounce his allegiance at will, and it also permitted the Government to provide by statute for the expatriation of its citizens.

DISCRIMINATION SEEN

Thus, in Mackenzie v. Hare, Mrs. Mackenzie lost her case. But that deci. sion did much to direct public attention to the unfair discrimination against American women in the act of 1907. A native-born woman who married an alien lost her nationality automatically and without regard to her own wishes.

This meant that she was deprived of protection by the United States Governmen while outside of this country. She lost all right of suffrage, of holding office, either by election or appointment, the right to participate in governmental affairs, and, in many States, she lost the right to hold or inherit property, to teach in the public schools, practice law or medicine, or to carry on many of the other vocations of life.

Mackenzie v. Hare marked the beginning of an earnest battle for equal rights of citizenship. Bills were introduced in Congress to eliminate discriminations between the sexes in our nationality law. In 1920 both major parties pledged themselves to enact legislation granting independent citizenship rights to women. At last, by the act of September 22, 1922, the American woman won the right of nationality independent of that of her husband. Marriage to an alien no longer deprived her of American citizenship.

That law was a great victory. But subsequent contests in the courts have shown a need of perfecting amendments. For instance, if a native-born woman lost her American citizenship by marriage to an alien prior to 1922, she is required, under the present law, to prove that she has resided in the United States one full year and that her residence is of a permanent character, before she can be repatriated. She is subjected to a hardship that is not suffered by the American woman who may have married an alien after September 22, 1922.

By the terms of the 1924 restrictive immigration act a married woman who lost her American nationality by marriage to an alien prior to the act of 1922,

« ÎnapoiContinuă »