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A REPORT PROPOSING A REVISION AND CODIFICATION OF THE NATIONALITY
STATE, THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, AND THE
SECRETARY OF LABOR
IN THREE PARTS
PROPOSED CODE WITH EXPLANATORY COMMENTS
Printed for the use of the Committee on Immigration and Naturalization
JUNE 13, 1938—Read, and, with the accompanying papers, referred to the
Committee on Immigration and Naturalization
WASHINGTON : 1939
For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U. S. Government Printing Office,
Washington, D. C. Price 20 cents.
MESSAGE OF THE PRESIDENT
To the Congress of the United States of America:
I transmit herewith a report concerning the Revision and Codification of the Nationality Laws of the United States, submitted upon my request, by the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Labor. The report is accompanied by a draft code with three appendices containing explanatory matter, prepared by officials of the three interested departments who are engaged in the handling of cases relating to nationality.
The report indicates the desirability from the administrative standpoint of having the existing nationality laws now scattered among a large number of separate statutes embodied in a single, logically arranged and understandable code. Certain changes in substance are likewise recommended.
In the enclosed letter forwarding the report to me the Secretary of State calls attention to a single question on which there is a difference of opinion between the Departments of Justice and Labor on the one hand and the Department of State on the other hand. If the committees of Congress decide to consider this question, the views of the three departments may be presented directly to them.
I commend this matter to the Congress for the attentive consideration which its wide scope and great importance demand.
FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT. Enclosures: (1) Report.
(2) Draft code and annexes.
(3) From the Secretary of State. THE WHITE HOUSE,
June 13, 1938.
LETTER OF SUBMITTAL
The White House.
JUNE 1, 1938.
By your Executive order of April 25, 1933, you designated the undersigned a committee to review the nationality laws of the United States, to recommend revisions, and to codify the laws into one comprehensive nationality law for submission to the Congress.
pursuance of this order a committee of advisers, composed of six representatives of the Department of State, six of the Department of Labor, and one of the Department of Justice, was appointed to study the existing laws governing nationality, and to prepare a draft Code, embodying such changes and additions as might seem desirable, together with a report explaining the same. Because of the wide field covered by these laws, the complexity of the problems involved and certain obstacles which could not have been foreseen, the report was not completed until August 13, 1935.
In view of the unusual importance of this subject, which is designed to determine the basic status of nationality itself, upon which so many rights and obligations depend, the draft Code mentioned above was thoroughly reviewed by officials of the three Departments, some of whom had taken no part in its preparation. As a result of this review and of conferences between these officials, various changes were made in the original draft.
While the nationality laws of nearly all foreign states have in recent years been completely revised and codified, the laws of the United States on this subject are found scattered among a large number of statutes, and it is sometimes difficult to reconcile the provisions of different statutes. On the other hand, there are no statutory provisions fixing the nationality status of the inhabitants of certain of the outlying possessions of the United States, including American Samoa and Guam.
The nationality problem in the United States is especially complex and difficult for several reasons. In past years large numbers of persons of foreign origin have come to the United States, have had children born to them in this country, and have subsequently returned to reside in the foreign countries from which they came, or have moved on to other foreign countries, taking their American-born children with them. In some cases the parents while in the United States obtained naturalization as citizens thereof, and in such cases children born to them in foreign countries after such naturalization have acquired citizenship of the United States at birth, under the provision of the existing law (R. S. 1993). Children born in the United States to persons of the classes mentioned acquired at birth citizenship of the United States, and in many cases they also acquired at birth the nationality of the foreign states from which their parents came, thus becoming vested with dual nationality. Dual nationality has also attached at birth to children born in certain foreign countries, having in their law of nationality the territorial rule (jus soli) to parents who acquired American nationality at birth or through naturalization.
The draft Code submitted herewith is divided into five chapters, as follows: Chapter I, Definitions; Chapter II, Nationality at Birth; Chapter III, Nationality through Naturalization; Chapter IV, Loss of Nationality; and Chapter V, Miscellaneous.
Since the citizenship status of persons born in the United States and the incorporated territories is determined by the fourteenth amendment to the Constitution, the proposed changes in the law governing acquisition of nationality at birth relate to birth in the unincorporated territories and birth in foreign countries to parents one or both of whom have American nationality. Cases of the latter kind are especially difficult of solution, in view of the necessity of avoiding discrimination between the sexes, and of the fact that, under the laws of many foreign countries, the nationality thereof is acquired through birth in their territories.
With regard to chapter III, it may be observed that naturalization constitutes a vital part of the nationality system of the United States, and the naturalization measures proposed by the committee of advisers constitute a considerable portion of the committee's proposals.
United States citizenship is a high privilege and ought not to be conferred lightly or upon a doubtful showing. The experience of the naturalization courts and administrative officers who have had to deal directly with the problems presented has demonstrated, however, the need for an accurate, comprehensive, and detailed Code by which naturalization is to be conferred and any abuse of the process remedied. No alien has the slightest right to naturalization unless all statutory requirements are complied with, and every certificate of citizenship must be treated as granted on condition that the Government may challenge it in regular proceedings for that purpose and demand its revocation unless issued in accordance with statutory requirements.