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Chairman DICKSTEIN. I wish you could do as good a job with the rest of them.
Mr. WECHSLER. I can break down this 7,000 figure for you, because it does look like a larger problem than it really is when you get the classifications.
There are only 3,000 people involved here of the 7,000 who are persons who were resident in the United States and who, unless something is done to eliminate them, would normally stay here. Of the 7,000 I say there are 3,000—2,949 to be precise—who are in that situation and I think you will agree with me when I explain the other categories, that these are the people who are really the problem people you might say.
These are the other classes: 600 others are seamen of enemy nationalities. They are separately classified as far as we are concerned, because they are necessarily transient.
Now then the next category consists of 874 people who were persons brought here from Latin-American countries. They were brought here for security reasons. They were people whom our officials were trying to press the Latin-American countries into doing something about and the Latin-American countries responded and said “Yes, we will get rid of them, we will intern them, but you take them off our hands.” So, pursuant to an arrangement the State Department worked out with the various countries involved, those 874 persons were brought here from Latin America and are held. They must either be repatriated to the countries of their nationality, either Germany or Japan, or else they must go back to the LatinAmerican countries from which they came. They are not our problem, but we have the problem of ultimately disposing of them.
Then in addition to that there are 528 persons from Hawaii and Alaska who are interned by order of the military authorities, of whom 524 are Japanese. They are held by the Immigration Service at the request of the Army, or the military authorities.
In Hawaii and Alaska the authority to intern aliens is in the military authorities rather than in the Attorney General.
The balance of the people, 2,402 to be exact, are voluntary internees, wives and children of people whom we have interned who have entered internment with the family member. So, to summarize, I think, gentlemen, it is fair to say that you have a problem here that involves, roughly, 3,000 aliens who have hạd a right to reside in the United States and who are now interned because they were suspected, or found to have been engaged in hostile activities or to have been hostile to us in the conduct of the war.
Mr. ALLEN. What can you do?
I is found in section 21 of title 50 of the code. This is the old act of 1798. I believe it is one of the oldest acts of Congress under which the Department of Justice is doing any business these days.
This is the act of Congress which confers upon the President the authority to regulate the conduct of aliens of enemy nationality, to intern them, and as I interpret it, to remove them from the country.
Chairman DICKSTEIN. At this point, in the last World War, how many aliens did you send back; can you give us the figures on that?
Mr. WECHLSER. I can get them; my belief is about 500 at the end of the war. I will check the figure.
Chairman DICKSTEIN. I would like to have that number in the report.
Mr. WECHSLER. You have a point there. I can deal with that briefly. There was an act of Congress passed in 1920, which act authorized the deportation of various categories of aliens, principally aliens who had been convicted of various war-time offenses such as violations of the Selective Service Act, Espionage Act violationsthere was quite a catalog.
Mr. ALLEN. That is still the law?
Mr. WECHSLER. Yes, that is still the law. In addition, however, this act authorized the deportation of any alien enemy then interned who was found by the Secretary of Labor-as I recall to be an undesirable alien. You might ask why was it necessary to pass such a provision for the deportation of any alien when we had the act of 1798. Under the language of the act of 1798 it is operative whenever there is a declared war between the United States and any foreign nation. I believe that Attorney General Gregory and then Attorney General Palmer, who were dealing with this matter in the last war, believed that the treaty of peace would be promptly ratified by the United States Senate; and so they did not know at any given moment when the authority that was conferred on the President by this old act might slip out from under them.
Mr. ALLEN. Well, Mr. Wechsler, then it is your opinion, I take it, that we do not need any further legislative authority on this question?
Mr. WECHSLER. That is right, sir.
Mr. ALLEN. You have plenty of laws to deal with this question of enemy aliens?
Mr. WECHSLER. I believe we have, sir, and I believe further that as a matter of policy it is better to deal with the problem before the state-of-war is declared at an end by act of Congress, that it is desirable to clean it up as promptly as possible.
Of the Germans now interned, the 937, our experience would lead me to express this view: A substantial number of those persons should, upon further examination and reconsideration of their cases, with a view to deportation, be deported from the country. I do not think that any automatic rule finding every person now interned guilty would be wise without a careful hearing, for we may have people interned who may be innocent.
Mr. LESINSKI. Like the Rumanian priest that you have interned?
Mr. LESINSKI. You know there were two Rumanian priests convicted and got 5 years by a court in Detroit, without any testimony.
Mr. WECHSLER. I do not think they are interned.
Mr. ALLEN. You had to consider each individual case very carefully before any steps are taken?
Mr. WECHSLER. Exactly so. There may be people who are innocent, who were interned because you could not take a chance or a risk of having them out while the country was at war; while you did not have definitive evidence of their guilt, you had to intern them on a strong probability.
Mr. LESINSKI. Have you anything else to say?
Mr. WECHSLER. There may be people interned who have such American family ties that it would be an injustice to exclude them after the war.
The Japanese, interestingly enough, present an increasing group of alien enemy internees through the operation of the Renunciation Act that was enacted last July, as I recall. Whereas we have now only 2,000 Japanese in alien enemy camps we will have undoubtedly, 6,000 to 7,000 when the proceedings under that act have been worked through. The problem of repatriation will have to be solved in those cases, for, as Mr. Carusi mentioned, they are not all citizens of Japan. Some of them have dual citizenship and are citizens of Japan, but I do not know just how many.
Mr. LESINSKI. I think this committee should make this particular study and if they are not deportable to Japan I still think we will still have plenty of islands to place them on and remove them from the mainland.
Mr. WECHSLER. I agree that is a problem that must not be overlooked.
Chairman DICKSTEIN. Are there any other questions?
Mr. ALLEN. I wonder if you have any thought on this question of limiting the jurisdiction of the courts of naturalization, which you discussed a while ago?
Mr. WECHSLER. No, I have not; that is a problem I have not considered; naturalization and immigration problems are not my responsibility at all. I listened to the discussion with great interest.
Mr. GOSSETT. The question Mr. Fisher, Mr. Allen, and I had in mind is this: We are all lawyers and in our practice none of us ever knew of a naturalization case being handled by any State courts and we wanted to know whether the State courts do handle them, and if not, why not?
Mr. WECHSLER. I cannot answer your question, but I am sure Commissioner Carusi can.
Mr. LESINSKI. You have not the aliens there as in certain parts of the country. Take in Detroit. From Washington to Detroit is 545 miles but from Detroit to Ironwood, Mich., is 750 miles, and transportation is terrible. If an alien up there wants to become a citizen the immigration people handle all matters except the court; and they use a Michigan court.
Chairman DICKSTEIN. Mr. Wechsler, would it be all right for you to come back next Wednesday?
Mr. WECHSLER. I would be delighted to do so.
Chairman DICKSTEIN. The committee stands adjourned until next Wednesday, May 2.
(Thereupon the committee adjourned to meet on Wednesday, May 2, 1945, at 10:30 a. m.)
STUDY OF IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION LAWS
WEDNESDAY, MAY 2, 1945
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D. c. The committee met at 10:30 a. m., Hon. Samuel Dickstein (chairman) presiding.
The CHAIRMAN. Gentlemen, we have for consideration House Resolution 52.
It was the thought of the committee and a number of Members that the public hearings on these matters ought to be held back & little bit until the San Francisco Conference is over.
Now, it would be up to the committee to use their own judgment.
In other words, it is felt that if the San Francisco Conference is on while we are having public hearings anywhere in the area it will not get the understanding nor the benefit we are trying to arrive at.
And so I am just giving you that caution.
The CHAIRMAN. Now, I believe there are five different subjects involved in this whole matter--six, rather and I tried to split up these committees in a rational way. And I hope I have done a good job. If I have not, I am pretty sure we can correct it.
Mr. REES. What are the five subjects?
I have placed on this committee Mr. Dickstein, Mr. Lesinski, Mr. Miller, Mr. Mason, and Mr. Dolliver.
Committee No. II is naturalization and citizenship, Mr. Fisher, Mr. Barrett, Mr. Hedrick, Mr. Rees, and Mr. Stockman.
I just put my name down there as ex officio.
Committee No. III, prisoners of war, Mr. Gossett, Mr. Ramspeck, Mr. Miller, Mr. Ellis, and Mr. Kearney.
Committee No. IV, Japanese war prisoners, Mr. Allen, Mr. Doughton, Mr. McGehee, Mr. Stockman, and Mr. Farrington, with Mr. Dickstein ex officio.
Committee No. V, alien enemies, Mr. Allen, Mr. Gossett, Mr. Barrett, Mr. Kearney, and Mr. McCowen.
Committee No. VI is the Oswego camp.
Now, I do not suppose all these subcommittees will be able to sit in five at a clip; that is a matter for the chairmen of these various subcommittees to arrange in their own way.