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STATEMENT OF LEO YPSILANTI, REPRESENTING VARIOUS GREEK
ORGANIZATIONS IN NEW YORK CITY
Mr. YPSILANTI. Mr. Chairman, my name is Leo Ypsilanti. I represent various Greek organizations in New York City.
Mr. HOBBs. Will you be good enough to give us your address ?
The position of these organizations is that they are in opposition to the Hobbs bill. I think, however, we may make some distinction as to what we are in opposition to, and what we may be in agreement with.
I note that under title I, section 1, there is a general allegation that any alien against whom a valid warrant of deportation is outstanding, and so on, shall be subject to supervision and detention. I also note, however, that in the "Whereas” Clauses it states that there is no intent to penalize nor to take excessive control over aliens whose only crime is entering the country illegally. In other words, not waiting for their quota number, or having difficulty with their entry papers. Yet in spite of that, so far as I have seen there is no distinction made here between the various types of aliens that enter the country.
What I mean is this: The criminals are distinguished from those that are not criminals. Then they break down the groups; those aliens who may be Nazis or Communists, or people of that ilk, but they have not broken down the groups of aliens whose only difficulty is that they are here illegally, and I say that if it is the intent of the proposer of this bill to so exclude this group, I think the language in the proposed bill should be made explicit and say so.
About the criminal aliens. I believe the bill deals with those aliens who have committed a crime. Then in the book containing the testimony of Mr. Holtzoff and others, it was pointed out that even though an alien may not have been convicted of a crime, if he admits a crime involving moral turpitude, he is put into the same category.
Concerning the concept of moral turpitude, there are some crimes that are very clearly repugnant to one's nature, and those we classify as having moral turpitude, such as rape, certain types of assault, and things of that kind, but we also have the crimes of murder and adultery. I would like to point out the distinction between the crime of murder and that of adultery. I do not think they are in the same category, although they have been found by the courts to be crimes involving moral turpitude.
In my practice I have found many cases where aliens are not living with their wives, and perhaps a woman will not give the alien a divorce. Being realistic about it, he being an animal, as all humans are, it is necessary for him to get some sexual expression, and he does that which he thinks is best. True, it is a crime in the State of New York, but it is not such a repugnant crime as to put these aliens in the same category as those who have sold narcotics, been pimps, and things of that kind. I think the bill should distinguish between the various types of criminals.
Further, I do not understand why it is necessary for the Immigration Service to keep in detention those aliens who are subject to deportation, or, as it is stated here, for whom a warrant has been issued for deportation.
No statistics are available as to the difficulties the Service encounter in getting hold of these aliens when it needs them if the aliens are available. Assuming the Service knows where these people are living, and a warrant has been issued for their deportation, it should be no problem to dig them up. In fact, I have heard it said by a number of people at Ellis Island, in the Department of Justice, if they wanted to track down an alien, they will get him no matter where he goes, if they have his record. And I see no purpose in keeping these aliens in detention for 90 days, and after passport has been obtained for his exit from this country, keeping him another 60 days. I do not think that is necessary. I do recognize, however, that there are problems concerning different types of criminal aliens.
Further, I do not understand the expression “supervision of aliens." In my work, I find that many Greeks enter this country as seamen. For example, by convoys coming from England and other parts of the world to pick up supplies, manned by Greek seamen. These men when they started out intended to go to England and return to Greece. Instead they were persuaded to continue their journey all over the world. When they get here they decide they do not want to go back to any other country but Greece, so with the permission of the immigration authorities they remain here. Those people are subject to deportation. I do not know under what circumstances the Department will issue warrants to deport them, but suppose a warrant of deportation is issued against those seamen, why should you put them in de tention? They are not even here of their own volition. They would be perfectly glad to go back to Greece if arrangements could be made.
It is true that Greece many times has refused to issue papers, but under circumstances as they exist today it is physically impossible since the Government of Greece no longer has any discretion in the matter of deporting these people, and we are therefore penalizing them, even though their present condition is not of their own doing.
As I tried to explain before, I do not understand why it is necessary to supervise the lives of aliens. I think that is the beginning of the supervision of the lives of all other people. The alien is no different from other people.
I do recognize the point made by Mr. Hobbs, that this is a sovereign state, and we have a right to gover our aliens as we see fit. I do not think the aliens have the same right as citizens, but I do say I do not see the necessity for supervising the lives of aliens when there are no facts indicating that these aliens are either criminals or persons of immoral character or engaged in subversive activities.
Mr. Hobbs. We are very much obliged to you, sir. We sympathize wholeheartedly with the tribulation through which your great nation is passing. We realize fully the debt of the world to Greece for its art, its architecture, philosophy, education, and similar cultural contributions, and for its manifest heroism on thousands of battlefields. We are grateful to you for this expression of your fears, which I believe, and I am sure the members of this committee believe, are unwarranted, in view of the manifold provisions of the bill to safeguard the right of all. I would like to say that we feel there is a duty to protect the interests of involuntary residents here who, through no fault of their own, are unable to go home; and the supervision, you may rest assured, will be kindly and, I hope, beneficial; and no alien in that category stands much chance of being ordered deported or having a warrant finally issued for deportation. But if there should be, you may rest assured, I think, that the supervision will be kindly, and at least attempt to be helpful.
We are very grateful to you for your presence and for your testimony.
Mr. YPSILANTI. Thank you very much. I shal tell the groups I represent of your kind words toward the country of Greece, and wish to thank you for giving me attention.
Mr. HOBBs. I assure you that is not only my personal conviction, but I think it is the practically unanimous verdict of the thoughtful people of America.
Mr. YPSILANTI. Thank you.
Mr. HOBBs. I would like to inquire if the Honorable Joe Starnes, of Alabama, is present.
Mr. Hobbs. I think this is the fourth or fifth time we have notified him we would be pleased to hear him, and each time I am informed by the clerk he has signified his inability to be present and testify. I am not advised as to his reasons. I suppose they are good.
Is Mr. Allen, our colleague from Louisiana here? (No response.)
The clerk has just advised me that Mr. Starnes phoned him this morning and says he is necessarily detained in a hearing before the Appropriations Committee, but that he would arrange a date sometime early next week when he can be with us and give his testimony.
Mir. CRAVENS. Was Mr. Allen notified that we were having a hearing this morning?
Mr. Hobbs. He has had the same opportunity. This is the fifth, I believe. Have you been advised of any reason for his absence ?
The CLERK. The two desire to appear together.
Mr. HOBBS. All right, sir; you may proceed. Give your name, and the organization you represent. STATEMENT OF LOUIS PERLMAN, REPRESENTING THE HUNGARIAN
SOCIETIES CENTRAL COMMITTEE, NEW YORK, N. Y. Mr. PERLMAN. My name is Louis Perlman; I represent several Hungarian societies in New York, and I am counsel for the New York Hungarian societies central committee, an organization to which 25 or so Hungarian societies belong.
I have come down here to voice my opposition to the bill under consideration now, on the general theory that bills restricting the activities and liberty of a particular class, though they are not citizens, may eventually lead to supervision and restriction on the personal liberty of those who are citizens of the first generation, that is, those who are naturalized citizens, and possibly subsequent generations of former aliens.
It very definitely is within the power of our Federal Government to legislate on the conduct of individuals here in this country, and it is certainly within the power of Congress to legislate on the rights of aliens. That I concede. However, up until comparatively recently nothing ever was done to mark aliens or place aliens in definite classes. Up until comparatively recently in our history admission to the United
States was practically at the will of the individual. It was on that fact that our Nation's development was based, and it was on that fact, I believe, that the prosperity of our country was also based.
At this time a number of bills have been presented, quite possibly because of the conditions abroad. Certainly to the alien these conditions cannot be attributed, because for the most part these aliens who have come to the United States, whether they are here legally or not, have sought to escape those conditions, have sought asylum in the only country in the world where asylum was possible. But suddenly the entire picture is changed. We are determined to put the alien in a separate class apart from the body politic; to point him out as one who is not a citizen. Not necessarily to hound him, but to put him in his place, and to keep hanging over his head the possibility of being sent back to death, imprisonment, or possibly a fate worse may be his meet; or else to put him into concentration or in prison for life.
Under the terms of this bill established Federal institutions, which we presume to be prisons, will admit, or will permit aliens who fall within the purview of a particular classification to be incarcerated, and they will keep them there, in some cases indefinitely. Indefinitely, because there is no time limit mentioned, because the act says until certain things may happen, which may never happen. In other words, what we will have here is imprisonment, or at least concentration within the United States for failure or impossibility to become citizens or to become one of the great majority in this country. Failure of citizenship may be an accident, dut to chance, due to failure to come here properly; and I think an alien who comes to the United States without a visa illegally is to be commended for his feelings, is to be commended for his faith and his hope in this country, because that alien that has sought asylum in the United States, for the most part, is seeking relief from conditions over which he has no control, and over conditions oppressing to him in the country of his birth. Those aliens, I say, are to be commended, although they are criminals in the
Ι United States, because they know that for centuries this wonderful land of ours has been an asylum, a place where a man can seek his own place in the universe, without fear of religion, social standing, or economic beliefs
Under this bill, section 3, aliens are required to give information under oath as to circumstances, habits, associations, and activities, and to conform to such reasonable written restriction on his conduct or activities as the Service may prescribe.
The word "reasonable” has been a long-contested matter in civil courts, and the word “reasonable” certainly cannot be pinned down to any particular definition. The term "reasonable" will depend upon the individuals administering this act. The term “reasonable" will depend upon the social outlook and background of those individuals, because there is nothing in this act to determine what is reasonable. To them reasonable may mean complete control over their lives outside of their jobs, and may even mean control as to the jobs and the nature of their activities within their jobs. That is one of the reasons I am definitely against this law, on the general premise of its separate laws which seek to segregate a group, which may in time lead to laws further segregating-further restricting the activities not alone of a particular group, such as the one under discussion, but the activities of a wider group, say, the activities of naturalized citizens, the activities of those people who have become citizens within the past 10 years, within the past 15 years, and later on are naturalized, no matter how long before they came here.
We, up to this point in our history, have passed laws governing the conduct of individuals; we have passed laws as to murder; we have passed laws as to rape, seduction, larceny, treason, spying; we have passed laws governing groups. These laws, whether they are good or not, are still laws, and we can still pass laws governing every single activity taken up in the proposed law without passing a general law which will govern all within a particular category, regardless of the individual laws which they may be guilty of breaking.
We know there is no such thing as double jeopardy under our laws; we know that if a man has served his term in prison he is free. He may be under a certain amount of surveillance, but, at any rate, he cannot be put in jail again for that crime. Under the Federal statutes, one who is guilty of murder can be ordered deported, but in case he cannot be deported, this law will make the individual serve a second term in jail-stay a second time in jail.
Under the recent Alien Act, under which all noncitizens were compelled to register and be fingerprinted, they were compelled to give their pedigree, and we assume this is all being checked up. At any time an individual who has once given his fingerprints, if picked up again for a crime, his background, the fact that he is an alien and deportable, can be ascertained immediately. If this individual learls a good life after he has committed such a crime, why should not this individual be allowed to stay here, just as our own citizens are allowed to stay here? We say once a man has paid for his crime, that is the end of it. It is immoral, it is unfair, and it is bad to point to him as one who has committed a crime, for no reason. I say, "Let sleeping
“ dogs lie.” Let the man pay for his crime, and if he can be deported immediately under the laws, let him be deported; but to make him stay in jail indefinitely simply because we cannot deport him, making him pay twice for his crime, making him languish in jail is unfair.
Again I would like to say that I am against this bill chiefly because it attempts to make distinctions between groups and within certain classes; and if this bill is passed, it may very possibly lead to further restrictions on the liberties of other individuals within our country.
Mr. HOBBS. In reply to your question I would like to call attention to the fact that the Supreme Court of the United States disagrees with you as to the character of detention pending deportation, having held specifically that it is not punishment, that it is not imprisonment, and that the double jeopardy clause in the statute does not apply. I think we are wholly cognizant of the contribution citizens of
your country, that is, the country for which you speak, have made; we appreciate the contribution which Hungarians have made time and again to the building of our American civilization, and I want to point out again that this bill only affects those against whom a valid warrant of deportation has been issued. In other words, I want to call your attention to the fact that it is only where the sovereign power of the United States has been thwarted that this bill applies to anyone, and we are trying to take care of some of the hardship cases you mention.