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those who feel that way about it would like to have the help and assistance of those who know most about this subject, rather than their obstruction and opposition.
How can we go about it to get helpful suggestions from the people who are working this thing? How can you bring these conditions to our attention and help us to correct them, where they need to be corrected?
Mr. HOUGHTELING. In the first place, if you will look through the files of this committee, you will find on practically every bill that has been proposed our comments and suggestions. The files of this committee are full of constructive suggestions from my Service. We are available for such information as may be desired by the legislative branch of this Government on any question involving our special field, that may come up.
Senator HOLMAN. Then if this committee should be of a mind that they think it is proper to change a policy on account of new conditions, you would help us by endeavoring to make these acts workable and help us to make them effective?
Mr. HOUGHTELING. Absolutely.
STATEMENT OF A. W. WARREN, CHIEF, VISA DIVISION,
DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Senator HERRING. Mr. Warren, the committee will be glad to hear your comments on these bills.
Mr. WARREN. The State Department has been requested to submit a report on S. 408.
Senator REYNOLDS. Is that the only one you are reporting on?
Mr. WARREN. Yes. We have been asked to comment on but one. We were asked for the views of the Department with respect to S. 408.
Senator HERRING. You may proceed.
The following report is not intended to indicate an opposition in principle to the enactment of legislation for the registration of aliens in this country, but there are several features of S. 408 on which the comment of this Department may be of interest.
Section 1 of the bill proposes the establishment of an interdepartmental committee to be known as the Alien Registration Board, consisting of one representative to be designated by the Secretary of War, one by the Secretary of State, one by the Attorney General, one by the Secretary of Labor and one by the Postmaster General and provides that the representative designated by the Secretary of War shall be ex officio chairman of the Board. As the stated purpose of the bill is to provide for the national defense, the omission of the Navy Department from the constitution of the Board is not understood.
Section 3 of the bill is of direct concern to the Department and its consular officers abroad who are responsible under the law for the proper issue or refusal of immigration visas. This section proposes that no immigration visas shall be issued to any alien seeking to enter the United States unless the alien has been fingerprinted in triplicate. It is not stated specifically by whom the alien is to be fingerprinted. With instruction I am sure that this work could be performed satisfactorily at our consular establishments abroad.
Section 3 then provides that one copy of the fingerprint record is to be utilized by the consul in ascertaining whether or not the person making application for entry is the person whose name is set forth in the application and whether or not the applicant has a criminal record or other statutory disqualification which would exclude him from entering the United States. In the first place a fingerprint record cannot be utilized by a consular officer in establishing the applicant's identity unless the record is referred to a source where such records are kept. Unfortunately for the purposes of this bill countries abroad maintaining such records are not numerous. Moreover, immediate verification might be possible in France, but if a French citizen were to apply for an immigration visa in China the fingerprint record could be utilized in establishing the alien's identity only after a considerable delay. I wish to point out that under existing laws, if a consular officer is not satisfied as to the alien's identity he does not act upon his application. With respect to the criminal record, however, the fingerprint record has a greater utility, but here again its usefulness would be lessened by the lack of such records in many of the countries from which aliens are emigrating to the United States.
The Department is in doubt as to the intent of the words "or other statutory disqualification” on lines 14 and 15 of page 2. There may or may not be statutory disqualifications other than a criminal record which could be traced by fingerprint record. Clarification to show the intent of the law in this respect would be helpful.
In continuation, section 3 of the bill provides that the second copy of the fingerprint record shall be attached to the alien's immigration visa to provide for verification of the alien's identity upon arrival at a port of entry in the United States. To avoid possible loss or mutilation, if attached to the visa, it might be advisable to have the record made a part of the immigration visa itself.
It is noted that the provisions of section 3 are mandatory for all persons applying for immigration visas. Many applicants will be persons to whom immigration visas have previously been issued. There is no exemption for such of those persons who have previously been fingerprinted. Similarly, there is no exception for very young children and even older ones for whom fingerprinting could not be expected to serve any useful purpose. Moreover, students over 15 years of age receive immigration visas notwithstanding that their sojourn in the United States is temporary and the provisions of section 3 would likewise be applicable to them. Finally, section 3 does not indicate what, if any, action should be taken with respect to the second and third copies of the fingerprint record in cases in which the visa is refused.
In reviewing section 3 as a whole the conclusion is reached that the fingerprinting requirement as a prerequisite to the issuance of an immigration visa will not provide any material safeguard beyond the precautionary measures established under existing laws preliminary to the issuance of an immigration visa and will on the other hand involve delay and possible hardship in many instances. Accordingly, the thought suggests itself that such fingerprinting might more effectively take place upon arrival of the alien in this country or within a specified limited period subsequent thereto.
In section 4 the word “that” on line 4 appears to be unnecessary. The succeeding sections of S. 408 have no direct concern to this Department and are of principal interest to the Department of Labor. However, in connection with the portion of section 5 which provides for the issuance of a registration card to each alien registrant, the suggestion is offered that a photograph of the alien, in addition to his fingerprints, on the registration card might be a useful addition for primary identification purposes. In some countries two such photographs are affixed to the registration card, one front view and the other profile.
It is also observed that section 5 provides that "every alien" shall apply for registration. It may have been intended that the provisions of section 5 should apply to all aliens, immigrants as well as nonimmigrants, but it seems logical to anticipate that it might be desirable to make exceptions in certain classes of cases from time to time. Under the present wording of section 5 border crossers and other short-term visitors, as well as persons passing in transit through the United States, would be affected and it is also noted that duly accredited officials of foreign governments, and their families, attendants, servants and employees, are not specifically stated as being exempt from the application of section 5. Similar exemption as a courtesy might also be accorded to such officials when in the United States other than as accredited to this Government. In connection with these observations your committee might wish to consider the advisability of inserting in the law a provision affording some degree of flexibility to meet desirable changes in the future by authorizing the Board to make exemptions classes of cases as the Board may specify from time to time in regulations.
If this Department can be of further assistance to your committee in its studies of this proposed legislation, I shall be glad if you will inform me.
Senator HOLMAN. I do not know to whom to address this inquiry, but I presume whoever is in charge of the records of visas. Would that be you, şir? You must have in the Department a record of the visas of people who enter this country under these visas which are, as I understand it, for a limited term. I would like to know the number and the source from which these visitors came, and I would like to know the number of renewals and repeated renewals, if any, I would like to get that information tabulated by countries and numbers for the last 5 years. That is a reasonable period—not longer than 5 years.
(NOTE.—The securing of this data from 22 field districts will require at least 1 month's work.)
Senator HERRING. Can you provide that, Mr. Shaughnessy?
Mr. SHAUGHNESSY. I think we can provide a considerable part of it, Mr. Chairman.
Senator HOLMAN. I presume a number of them come in during a year.
Mr. SHAUGHNESSY. That is correct.
Mr. HoughTELING. I have gotten records of the number of visitors from European countries who came into this country through Ellis Island, from July 1, 1934 to the present time and who are still here. In one record I have those who are here on legal visitors' visas, and they number about 28,000 as of November 24, 1938. The records show, also, those who have overstayed their visitors' visas, and they number 4,226, subject to the fact that some of them may have gone out
, without notifying us.
Senator Holman. So you have that check?
Mr. HOUGHTELING. Yes: we know who is here as of a given date, and from what country they came.
Senator HOLMAN. May we have that information?
Mr. HOUGHTELING. It is a large record. I will have a copy made. It shows their race and the country of their origin.
REPORT FROM DISTRICT HEADQUARTERS OF THE IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION
SERVICE AT ELLIS ISLAND, N. Y., REGARDING THE NUMBER OF VISITORS ADMITTED THROUGH THAT PORT AND LEGALLY PRESENT IN THE UNITED STATES AS OF NOVEMBER 24, 1938
NOTE.—The attached survey was made under my instruction with a primary view of determining the number of European visitors in this country on the date specified, and particularly with regard to visitors from Germany and Austria who might possibly claim to be political refugees. It only covers those visitors who arrived at the port of New York and whose records and files are therefore retained at our Ellis Island office. It shows the number of visitors who are recorded as still in the United States either within the original time limit granted them upon arrival, or on valid extensions granted them by this Service. Our records show that between July 1, 1934, and June 30, 1938, 196,141 visitors were admitted through Ellis Island, and furthermore that between July 1, 1938, and November 30, 1938, 21,683 visitors were admitted; or a total of 217,824 visitor admissions. At the end of this report I am making a note of the number of visitors from Germany and Austria reported by my other border to seacoast districts as having been admitted during the period under consideration and as being still legally in the United States as visitors.
It will be noted that the number of visitors who entered the United States through Ellis Island and who are legally present amounts to 28,639, or slightly over the round figure of 28,000 used in my discussion before the Immigration Committee of the Senate. In view of the fact that the preponderance (about 93 percent) of visitor arrivals from the Eastern Hemisphere enter at Ellis Island these figures represent very fairly the visitor situation as applied to European countries.
James L. HOUGHTELING, Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization.