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DEPARTMENT OF LABOR,
Washington, February 16, 1937.
United States Senate, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR SENATOR RUSSELL: Reference is made to your communication of February 9, 1937, enclosing a copy of S. 1364, now pending before the committee, and requesting the views of this Department thereon.
Except that the penalty has been raised in the present bill, it is otherwise identical with title 2 of H. R. 11172, introduced in the last Congress by Mr. Starnes of Alabama, on February 14, 1936, and S. 411, title 2, introduced during the last Congress by Senator Reynolds, on January 16, 1936.
In the first place, it seems that the bill creates a rather unnecessary and cumbersome machinery of administration. It creates an additional governmental board. This board seems to have no function other than to prepare for proclamation, regulations, and forms for carrying out the provisions of the act and preparing the initial estimation of required appropriations. When this has been accomplished the need for the board's continued existence does not appear in the present bill.
If the measure proposed by this bill was desirable it would be simpler to place the administration in a single executive department and, as has been done in other instances of like nature, provide for the cooperation of other departments so far as necessary. Regulations might be jointly approved insofar as they affect such other departments.
This Department cannot recommend the registration of aliens as proposed in this measure. The following are some of the reasons which move it to adopt this attitude:
There appears to be a common misunderstanding as to registration. It seems to be assumed that it would bring about the registration of aliens illegally in the country. This is altogether unlikely. The alien illegally here will not register as he would have nothing to gain by so doing and would merely place the Government on notice as to his presence in the country and bring about proceedings for his deportation. Only the alien lawfully in the United States would probably be registered. The threat of possible conviction and sentence for failure to register is less likely to encourage the registry of illegal residents than is the fear of deportation to dissuade them from registering.
The net effect of registration is to cause annoyance and inconvenience to many of the more than 35,000,000 citizens of foreign birth or foreign parentage. There are 40,000,000 persons in the United States who are of foreign birth or of foreign parentage. Approximately 4,200,000 of these are aliens, a third of whom have already, or through their parents, applied for citizenship. General alien registration would thus tend to discriminate against and set apart from the rest of the community the 4,200,000 legally resident aliens and make them pay in money and in humiliation for what would seem to be a futile effort to discover the relatively few aliens who are illegally in the country. As at present and heretofore, so in the future, the Government would have to locate aliens illegally in the United States and institute deportation proceedings against them. Those legally in the country should not be put to this expense and annoyance.
In considering the adoption of any system of registration, the issue must be squarely faced that it involves a radical departure from the American system and a return to the European system of governmental and particularly police control of the individual. It would constitute a tremendous step toward regimentation of the citizen. Once applied to aliens it is likely to be only a matter of time when some similar measure is applied to citizens. Registration would involve maintaining in Washington an individual dossier for each person. Into that dossier will inevitably flow all communications relating to the individual. Some of these will be proper; others will consist of unfounded charges, or of reports of the most intimate personal aspects of the individual's life.
It seems proper to suggest further that such general registration would open up an entirely new field for the racketeer, blackmailer, and others who prey upon aliens. The alien lawfully here would be told he required assistance or influence to obtain his card and threatened with obstruction if he failed to pay. The illegal entrant would be blackmailed. There would almost certainly be attempts to counterfeit registration cards.
It has been roughly estimated that something like 2 years would be required to register all aliens in the country and that the cost would be at least 6 million the first year, 4 million the second, and $2,000,000 for several years thereafter to cover the annual registration and the care of the records. Likewise, it has been estimated that personnel to the number of 3,000 would be required for the first year, 2,000 for the second, and 1,000 for the third year.
The reasons for opposing the adoption of any general registration may be summed up as
(a) It will apply only to the alien legally here--as the alien illegally here will not report and thereby subject himself to deportation;
(b) It will serve to set the noncitizen foreign-born in a class apart from the rest of the community and convey to them the impression that they are unwelcome, treated as inferiors and discriminated against. It will be interpreted by them as a negation of our principles of equality before the law;
(c) It will set up a compact foreign-born group who, believing themselves the victims of unjust discrimination, will provide fertile soil for the inculcation of subversive doctrines;
(d) It will result in discrimination against and inconvenience to great numbers of American citizens by birth or naturalization who may have the physical characteristics or traces of the accent of persons of foreign birth. Such persons will be called upon to prove their citizenship because, of course, they will not carry registration cards. The seriousness of this situation will be understood when it is realized that approximately 1 out of every 3 in the United States is either of foreign birth or foreign parentage;
(e) It will offer possibility of abuse in labor disputes and afford pretext for detentions on ground of suspected illegal residence. Sincerely,
(S. 1365, 75th Cong., 1st sess.) A BILL To provide for the prompt deportation of habitual alien criminals and other undesirable aliens
now in the United States, and to prevent unnecessary hardship or separation of families Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That an alien who entered the United States either from a foreign territory or an insular possession, either before or after the passage of this Act, shall be promptly deported in the manner provided in sections 19 and 20 of the Immigration Act of February 5, 1917, as amended, regardless of when he entered, if he
(1) At any time after entry is or has been convicted of an offense which may be punishable by imprisonment for a term of one year or more, or of a crime involving moral turpitude, even though a sentence of imprisonment may not have been imposed, the said deportation to be made by the Secretary of Labor forthwith at the time he is released from confinement, or placed upon probation, or is pardoned: or
(2) Belongs to one or more of the classes of aliens excluded by section 3 of the Immigration Act of February 5, 1917, and the Act for the exclusion and expulsion of anarchists and similar classes approved October 16, 1918, as amended by the Act approved June 5, 1920; or
(3) Has been convicted of violation of a narcotic law of any State, Territory, insular possession, or of the District of Columbia; or
(4) Has been lawfully committed to a public or private institution as a habitual user of narcotic drugs; or
(5) Knowingly and for gain encouraged, induced, assisted, or aided anyone to enter the United States in violation of law, or after passage of this Act knowingly encouraged, induced, assisted, or aided anyone to enter the United States in violation of law; or
(6) Has been engaged in espionage for a foreign government; or
(7) Has been convicted of possessing or carrying any concealed or dangerous weapon.
SEC. 2. (a) The Secretary of Labor may suspend the execution of deportation against an alien found subject to deportation for a period not to exceed twelve months dated from the issuance of the original warrant of deportation, if the alien has a dependent wife or child who is a citizen of the United States: Provided, however, That the alien is not comprised within the classes of persons deportable in accordance with the provisions of 40 Stat. 1012 as amended by 41 Stat. 1008, or that the offense for which the alien is deportable is not classifiable as a felony, or that the alien is not suffering from a hereditary physical or mental defect.
(b) The Secretary of Labor shall transmit to Congress quarterly, on or before the 15th day of January, April, July, and October of each year, a complete list of all deportable aliens whose deportation was suspended during the preceding three months under authority conferred by this section, together with a complete record of each case and full reasons for each such suspension, and all such reports and information shall be open to public inspection.
(c) The Secretary of Labor is authorized to provide transportation for a dependent husband or wife or minor children of an alien ordered deported from the United States if the separation involves extreme hardship: Provided, however, That the wife or minor child of a citizen of the United States born in the United States accompanying an alien deported from the United States shall be positively and definitely identified by fingerprinting or footprinting for the purpose of establishing their right of reentry as citizens of the United States.
SEC. 3. Any employee of the Immigration and Naturalization Service designated by the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization shall have power to detain for investigation any alien who he has reason to believe is subject to deportation under this or any other statute. Any alien so detained shall be immediately brought before an Immigration Inspector designated for that purpose by the Secretary of Labor, and shall not be held in custody for more than fortyeight hours thereafter, unless prior to the expiration of that time a warrant for his arrest is issued.
SEC. 4. Any person who knowingly aids or assists any alien or any person to evade or violate any provision of this Act or connives or conspires with any alien or any person to evade or violate this Act shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and on conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or by imprisonment for not more than five years, or both.
SEC. 5. The provisions of this Act are in addition to and not in substitution for the provisions of the immigration laws and shall be enforced as part of those laws, and all the penal or other provisions of such laws not inapplicable shall apply to and be enforced in connection with the provisions of this Act.
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR,
Washington, March 2, 1937. Hon. ROBERT B. RUSSELL, Chairman, Committee on Immigration, United States Senate,
Washington, D. C. MY DEAR SENATOR RUSSELL: Your letter of February 18, 1937, is acknowledged. You request comment on S. 1365, a bill introduced by Senator Reynolds on February 5, 1937, entitled “A bill to provide for the prompt deportation of habitual alien criminals and other undesirable aliens now in the United States and to prevent unnecessary hardship or separation of families.” Some provisions of the measure are desirable but others would cause injustices wholly unnecessary in accomplishing the purposes set forth in the bill's title. For the reasons which I shall give, I am compelled to express my disapproval and recommend against its enactment.
Section 1 of the bill would create six additional classes of aliens who would be subject to deportation and would remove the time limitation in regard to those aliens who effected entry in violation of section 3 of the act of February 5, 1917. I am in whole-hearted accord with the principle of ridding the country of the undesirable alien-criminal element. I recognize the existence of certain weaknesses in the present immigration laws on this point and have made recommendation to Congress in the past for remedying this condition. I am convinced this end may be accomplished without legislation as drastic as that proposed by this bill which would cause untold hardship entirely disproportionate to the offense committed.
The first clause in section 1 of the bill would render subject to deportation an alien who has been convicted of an offense which may be punished by imprisonment for a term of 1 year or more. It is not required that a sentence of a year be imposed nor that the crime be one involving moral turpitude. Many minor offenses, including certain traffic violations, carry a maximum penalty of 1 year. Thus, although the offense committed by an individual might merit a small fine, or even a complete suspension of sentence, inasmuch as legally it would have been possible to impose a penalty of a year's imprisonment that individual would be subject to deportation if he were an alien, irrespective of years of residence in the United States and of family ties. Deportation would be mandatory.
In the same clause, an alien convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude is made subject to deportation even though a sentence of imprisonment may not have been imposed. An alien convicted of petty larceny, such as stealing a newspaper, would be subject to deportation because the offense would involve moral turpitude. The maximum penalty which could be imposed may be only a few days in jail, yet, under the terms of the bill, such alien, though his conduct in the country had otherwise been blameless, and though he may have made important contributions during a lengthy residence to the common welfare of the country, would be subject to deportation.
In neither of the foregoing instances would a pardon prevent deportation, since it is proposed that deportation be accomplished forthwith at the time the alien is released from confinement or placed upon probation or is pardoned. Under present law an alien convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude and receiving a sentence of 1 year or more is subject to deportation if the offense was committed within 5 years of entry or if so convicted and sentenced for more than one offense irrespective of when the crime was committed. A pardon in either instance prevents deportation. Therefore, the more vicious alien criminal ordered deported under existing law could avoid deportation through a pardon, whereas an alien ordered deported under this part of the bill, even in the case of a petty offender, would have no such remedial action available to him.
Clause 3 of section 1 requires the deportation of an alien convicted of violating a narcotic law of any State, Territory, insular possession, or the District of Columbia. I approve of this provision but with this qualification: Aliens convicted of violating Federal narcotic laws are subject to deportation with an exemption in favor of the addict who was neither a dealer nor peddler. Consistency requires a similar exemption where the narcotic law violated is that of a State, Territoryinsular possession, or the Distrct of Columbia.
Clause 4 of the same section would render deportable an alien lawfully committed to a public or private institution as an habitual user of narcotic drugs. This, I believe, is unjust. Many derelicts and wholly undesirable persons might fall within the terms of this clause but, on the other hand, it is so broad as to include a person who may, through the use of narcotics during a prolonged illness, have become an addict and may be in a hospital attempting to effect a cure. It should not be the purpose of this Government to add further tribulations to them.
I am in accord with the principle of providing for the deportation of an alien who arranges for the illegal entry of other aliens into the United States. Clause 5 would require the deportation of an alien (1) who knowingly and for gain aided anyone to enter the United States in violation of law, or (2) who after the passage of the bill aided anyone to so enter whether or not commercialism is involved. While I agree with the first part of the clause, I feel that the latter portion is somewhat too broad. Under it a father who in a single instance in any way aids in the illegal entry of a minor child would be subject to deportation. A differentiation should be made between the professional smuggler or the one who habitually assists aliens in illegally entering the country and the isolated noncommercial
The situation could best be cared for by making the noncommercial offender deportable for more than one transgression.
Clause 6 requires the deportation of an alien who has been engaged in espionage for a foreign government. This is so broad as to include aliens engaged in such activities on behalf of countries allied to the United States during the late war. The clause is not limited to the prohibited activity against this Government, nor is it limited to espionage activities within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.
The last addition to the deportable classes is contained in clause 7 of section 1. This clause provides for the deporation of an alien convicted of possessing or carrying any concealed or dangerous weapon. I agree that some provision should be contained in our immigration laws which would permit of the deportation of aliens convicted of possessing or carrying concealed or dangerous weapons but I feel the necessity for some administrative latitude in order to prevent injustices. It is realized that often members of criminal "gangs” or “rackets” are convicted for nothing more serious than the possession of a dangerous weapon. They should be deported. But, on the other hand, a technical violation and conviction might easily result through ignorance on the part of an alien in possession of a firearm. An inflexible provision such as contained in clause 7 would undoubtedly result in grave injustice in certain cases.
Clause 2 of section 1 in effect removes the time limitation of 5 years relative to the deportation of aliens who entered the United States in violation of section 3 of the Immigration Act of February 5, 1917. Reference in clause 2 to the Anarchist Act of October 16, 1918, as amended by the act of June 5, 1920, is actually surplusage for the reason that that act provides for the deportation of aliens in the United States in violation of its terms at any time after entry. I am opposed to
this provision. If an alien effects surreptitious entry into the United States this is accomplished almost invariably in violation of the Immigration Act of 1924, which requires the production of an immigration visa and under that act is subject to deportation at any time irrespective of when entry occurred. Where an alien enters with a visa, is regularly inspected and permitted to enter, it seems only just that there should be some time limitation within which he could be arrested and deported for a ground of exclusion enumerated in section 3 of the act of February 5, 1917, and which should have been ascertained at the time of his entry. A period of 5 years within which to discover his inadmissibility would seem to be ample.
Section 2 of the bill would authorize a suspension of deporation for a period not to exceed a year where an alien has a dependent wife or child and is not subject to deportation under the Anarchist Act of October 16, 1918, as amended, or because of conviction of a felony, or where the alien is not suffering from a hereditary physical or mental defect. A list of all aliens whose deportation has been suspended must be submitted to Congress quarterly with the complete record and reasons for the action taken. This information is to be open to public inspection. Although the bill does not so state, presumably it is intend.d that Congress shall make disposition of all cases reported to it.
I am in hearty accord with any measure which would tend to prevent family separation in the case of deserving aliens. I do not feel that section 2 is sufficiently inclusive. Consideration should be given to an alien who has a husband or parents in the United States. I believe that the general welfare would best be served by affording the same consideration to relatives of aliens who are lawful residents of the country as to those who are citizens. We have accepted such aliens as an integral part of our social and economic life and by that act should give due consideration to their welfare. Whether an already overworked Congress should be burdened by the necessity for giving consideration to administrative detail requires careful thought and study.
I believe the provision in subdivision (c) of section 2, authorizing transportation for a dependent husband or wife or minor children of an alien subject to deportation, is advisable and meets with my approval.
Section 3 would permit the arrest of aliens without warrant under certain circumscribed conditions to fortify against abuse. I recognize the desirability of such a provision from a practical standpoint but I believe it would be in contravention of the Constitution and therefore I am unable to approve of it.
I have no objection to section 4 which provides a penalty for anyone who violates or attempts to violate the provisions of the bill. Neither have I objection to section 5 which merely makes it clear that the bill would be in addition to existing provisions of the immigration laws.
I trust that this comment may be of some value to you in consideration of this measure. Very truly yours,
(S. 1366, 75th Cong., 1st sess.) A BILL To further reduce immigration, to authorize the exclusion of any alien whose entry into the United
States is inimical to the public interest, to prohibit the separation of families through the entry of aliens leaving dependents abroad, and for other purposes
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That (a) from and after July 1, 1937, the quota in the case of any nationality for which a quota has been determined and proclaimed under the Immigration Act of 1924, as amended, shall be 10 per centum of such quota, but the minimum quota of any nationality shall be one hundred. From and after July 1, 1937, no immigration visas shall be issued under subdivision (c) of section 4 of the Immigration Act of 1924, but all the provisions of the immigration laws shall be applicable to immigrants born in any of the geographical areas specified in such subdivision as if each
of such areas had at that time a quota equal to 10 per centum (but not less than one hundred) of the number of nonquota immigration visas issued, during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1930, to immigrants born in such area: Provided, however, That reciprocal arrangements may be entered into by the Department of State with the Dominion of Canada, Newfoundland, the Republic of Mexico, the Republic of Cuba, the Republic of Haiti, the Dominican Republic, the Canal Zone, or any independent country of Central or South America, whereby as many immigrants born in any said country otherwise admissible under the immigration laws may be admitted into the United States for