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an Englishman, at Chefoo, China, October 23, 1922. Mrs. Hinton desired to renounce her American citizenship while she and her husband were in China. The Department of State pointed out that the act of 1922 permitted American women in Mrs. Hinton's situation to renounce their native citizenship only before a court having jurisdiction over the naturalization of aliens. Inasmuch as there were no such American courts in China, it was held that while residing outside the United States she could not renounce her citizenship. This ruling clearly expresses the intent of those who sponsored the act of 1922.
At any rate, the native-born woman citizen of the United States was permitted, after her marriage to a foreigner, to retain her American citizenship. This is exactly what Cornelia Vanderbilt did after she married Sir John F. Cecil, a subject of Great Britain.
The women's independent citizenship act enabled those unfortunate women who had been deprived of their American citizenship because of marriage to aliens under the act of 1907' to regain their citizenship by a shortened naturalization process. Ordinarily, five years' residence in the United States is required for naturalization. But these women were required by the original 1922 act to have lived in the United States, Hawaii, Alaska, or Puerto Rico for one year only.
A most interesting case of repatriation is that of Mrs. Ruth Bryan Owen, Congresswoman from the fourth district of Florida. Ruth Bryan, the daughter of William Jennings and Mary Baird Bryan, was born in Jacksonville, Ill., October 2, 1885. She lived continuously in the United States from the date of her birth until May 3,1910, when she married Reginald Altham Owen, a British subject. At the time of the marriage the act of 1907 was still in effect and made Mrs. Owen "involuntarily and automatically a British subject." '
At all times Mrs. Owen was looked upon by her British friends as an American citizen, despite her actual legal status under the act of 1907. At no time did Mrs. Owen ever take the oath of allegiance to the British or any other foreign government. At no time did she ever renounce her allegiance to the United States. During the early part of the World War she was actively engaged in war organization work. Thereafter, for the balance of the war her time was spent, frequently with American women, in active nursing service in the
On September 1, 1919, Major and Mrs. Owen returned to the United States and established their home in Florida, where Mrs. Owen still lives. Major Owen died on the 12th of December, 1927. In the meantime Mrs. Owen on January 23, 1925, had petitioned the United States Federal Court for the Southern District of Florida for repatriation under the act of September 22, 1922. Ninety days afterward, a period then required to elapse after the filing of such a petition, Mrs. Owen was formally naturalized and restored to the legal status of an American citizen, although her husband remained a British subject.
November 6, 1928, Mrs. Owen was elected by an enormous majority to represent the fourth district of Florida in the United States House
? Sec. 3, act of Mar. 2, 1907; 34 Stat. L. 1228.
Sec. 4, act of Sept. 22, 1922; 42 Stat. L, 1022. Sitting Member's Brief of Facts and Authorities–Election Case, William C. Lawson, Memorialist, 1. Ruth Bryan Owen, Seventy-first Congress, p. 32.
of Representatives. Mrs. Owen was duly seated in the House, but her seat was contested by her election opponent, William C. Lawson. Mr. Lawson contended that since Mrs. Owen had been expatriated by marriage in 1910 and since she had not been repatriated by naturalization until 1925, she had not been a citizen of the United States for seven years prior to her election in 1928, and therefore had not met the requirements of the Constitution of the United States for a Representative in Congress.
Each house in Congress is the sole judge of the qualifications of its members. Consequently, the case came on for hearing before the House Committee on Elections No. 1. At the hearings it was pointed out that the independent citizenship act of 1922 contains this provision:
After her naturalization she shall have the same status as if her marriage had taken place after the passage of this act.12
Did it, then, entirely wipe out the period during which Mrs. Owen was a subject of Great Britain?
Five members of the committee held that the seven years' residence need not to have been immediately preceding the election. The other four members held that it did have to be immediately before the election, and concluded that “Mrs. Ruth Bryan Owen, through naturalization, enjoys the same status as an American woman who marries an alien subsequent to the passage of the Cable Act, namely, the status of one who never loses her citizenship.”. As a whole the committee thus reported back to the House: "It is, therefore, the unanimous conclusion of your committee that Ruth Bryan Owen meets the requirements of one eligible to a seat in the House of Representatives, as set forth in
the Constitution."13 Thereupon a resolution was passed by the House, permitting Mrs. Owen to retain her seat in the House of Representatives.
Thus it was that the independent citizenship act of 1922 provided women who had become expatriated by marriage under the act of 1907, to become repatriated by short process, and thereupon restored them to the status of natural born citizens.
This was not the only benefit in the new law. It also provided that American women should no longer be deprived of their native citizenship by marriage to aliens. They might enter unmolested into commerce or trade, or into the practice of the professions. When they went abroad they were assured of the passport privileges and protection of the United States Government.
The new law also is beneficial to alien women. It provided them with privileges they had not enjoyed for 67 years. Alien women, as well as American women, were granted a citizenship status entirely separate from and independent of that of their husbands. The new law was not a compromise between the conflicting principles of perpetual allegiance and of the husband's dominance over the legal status of his wife. It was an outright recognition of the fact that a woman's citizenship is as personal, dignified and sincere as is a man's.
10 Unitea Suites Constitution, Art. I, sec. 2, Cl. 2. 11 United States Constitution, Art. I, sec. 5. 12 Sec. 4, act of September 22, 1922; 42 Stats. at L. 1022. 13 “William C. Lawson-Ruth Bryan Owen Election Case; "Report No. 968, Committee on Elections No.'1, House of Representatives, Mar. 24, 1930, pp. 6 and 7; Seventy-first Congress, second session.
After 1855 and before 1922, an alien married woman could be naturalized only by her alien husband's naturalization, and could not be naturalized if her husband did not wish to become an American or could not qualify for citizenship.14 The women's independent citizenship act repealed that law. It provides “That the right of any woman to become a naturalized citizen of the United States shall not be denied or abridged because of her sex or because she is a married woman.”'15 This provision of the law is clear and unequivocal.
The alien woman whose alien husband has not been naturalized may herself become a naturalized citizen of the United States on her own petition after five years's residence in this country, regardless of what her husband's wish in that matter may be. Now she is absolutely free to follow whatever course she wishes to follow.
For the alien woman whose husband, formerly an alien, has become a naturalized American, there is provided a shortened naturalization process. She is not required to file a declaration of intention to become a citizen, and it is necessary for her to reside in the United States only one year prior to the filling of her petition for naturalization. The courts have held, however, that an alien woman can not enjoy this shortened naturalization proceeding unless her husband has been completely naturalized. 17
The shortened naturalization process is also available to the alien woman who marries an American. She may be naturalized on her own petition, after residing in the United States for one year. This privilege is open to her even if she and her American husband have been divorced.
Since the act of September 22, 1922, alien women have become American citizens only on their own petitions. They become citizens only after they study for and pass the examinations. That in itself is an advantage for alien women. Before 1922 the alien woman automatically became an American upon the naturalization of her alien husband or upon her marriage to a citizen of the United States. The alien husband became Americanized through his contacts at work and through his preparation for his naturalization examination. The children learned of American history and ideals at school. But the alien wife and mother was left at home to do the work. She made few contacts with Americans and learned little about the new country of which she automatically became a citizen without any act of her
Alien women now do not enter upon a citizenship status they know nothing about. Before they become naturalized they have an opportunity to learn the history, principles, and ideals of our nation. They petition naturalization because they are eager to become Americans, and when they acquire citizenship, they cherish it.
Citizenship is the highest honor this country can bestow. Alien women realize that, and each year they are being naturalized in increasing numbers. For a year prior to the passage of the act of September 22, 1922, the number of unmarried alien women petitioning naturalization was 200 per month. Within 18 months after the
"Act of Feb. 10, 1855; sec. 1994 R. S.; cf. In re Langtry, 1887, 31 Fed. 879, and In re Rionda, 1908, 164 Fed. 368; also cf. Ch. II, pp. 8 and 9, supra.
i Sec. 1, act of Sept. 22, 1922; 42 Stat. L. 1021. * Sec. 2, act of September 22, 1922; 42 Stat. L. 1022. "Cf. In re Colorossi, 1923, 292 Fed. 862; In re Attyah, 1926, 12 Fed. 2d, 323. Contra-In re Kontos, 1925, 12 Fed. 2d, 134.
act was passed, the number of all alien women, married and unmarried, had grown to over 1,000 per month. During 1923, the first year after the new act went into effect, 6,011 alien women were naturized. By 1930 the number had grown to 48,881. Over the same period of time the number of alien men naturalized annually fell from 148,000 to 127,000, a decrease of 21,000 per year.
Independent citizenship likewise is beneficial to our country. Those women who now become American citizens must understand our Government, its aims and purposes. They are much better educated than they used to be. They are citizens of a different and higher type.
In some instances, due to the fact that the law of the alien woman's country still follows the archaic doctrine of single identity, the woman may lose her native citizenship by the marriage and not acquire American citizenship thereby. She may be stateless. In case such a woman wishes to go abroad for a visit, she can obtain a passport from neither her native country nor from the United States.
States. Ho ever, the State Department has alleviated this situation by permitting such a woman to travel on a laissez passer or affidavit in lieu of passport.
CHAPTER VII. PERFECTING THE LAW
Great as was the forward stride taken by the United States in the enactment of the independent citizenship act of 1922, and complete as appeared to be the removal of discriminations against women, the original act did not in fact grant women a citizenship status absolutely equal to that of men. It is impossible to foresee all the contingencies which will arise under a new law in operation. In fact, any new law governing the relations of a great number of people is bound to cause hardships in at least few individual cases.
After the independent citizenship act had been in operation for several years it was apparent that some discriminations against women, difficulties to which men were not subjected, did persist in the citizenship law. Organized American women again became active, carried their campaign to the halls of Congress and fought until they had won.
One of the greatest discriminations against an American woman arose in the case where she had married an alien and gone abroad to live with her husband. The 1922 act privided : “If during the continuance of the marital status she resides continuously for two years in a foreign State of which her husband is a citizen or subject, or for five years continuously outside the United States, she shall thereafter be subject to” a presumptive loss of her American citizenship.
This provision was contrary to the principle of the 1922 act that a woman should not be deprived of her American citizenship by marriage to an alien. Indeed, it subjected a native-born American woman who married an alien and went abroad to reside with him to the same presumption of loss of citizenship to which a naturalized American man or woman is subjected. At no time has a nativeborn American man ever been subjected to presumptive loss of his citizenship, regardless of whom he may have married or where he may have lived.
18 Annual Reports of Commissioner of Naturalization from June 30, 1922, to June 30, 1931, inclusive. 1 Sec. 3, act of Sept. 22, 1922; 42 Stats. L. 1022. Sec. 2, act of Mar. 2, 1907; 34 Stat. L. 1228,
A case illustrative of this situation is that of Miss Louise Ross, who was born in Troy, N. Y., April 11, 1902. She received her preliminary education in the public schools of Troy, but after completing her college work in this country went abroad to study art. Åt Rapallo, Italy, on the 22d of September, 1926, she married Signor G. Mariano, an Italian. Mr. and Mrs. Mariano established their home in Florence, Italy, and still reside there.
Because of the act of 1922 Miss Ross was not deprived of her American citizenship by her marriage to Mariano. She suffered a hardship in 1928, however, when she applied for a renewal of her passport, so that she might return to the United States to visit. Mrs. Mariano owns property in Darien, Conn., and had voted there even after her marriage. Prior to November, 1928, it had been financially and otherwise inconvenient for Mrs. Mariano to return to this country. And when she applied to the American consul for passport renewal, he advised her that he could neither renew her American passport nor issue her a new one because she had resided for more than two years in her husband's native country and therefore was, by presumption, no longer an American citizen.
Mrs. Mariano was forced to return to the United States on an Italian passport. This phase of the 1922 law failed to preserve for Mrs. Mariano the citizenship individuality and independence that had been intended.
Another unjust hardship was that suffered by the former American woman who had married an alien and lost her native citizenship under the act of 1907. By the independent citizenship act of 1922 she was extended the privilege of returning to the United States to be repatriated by a shortened process in a court having jurisdiction over naturalization. However, after the enactment of this act the 1924 immigration quota law was passed. Since the former American woman had lost her own citizenship and acquired her husband's by the marriage, she was forced to return to this country as a quota immigrant. If the quota for her husband's country was exhausted, she could not get a visa and therefore could not come back to the United States for the purpose of repatriation.
Such a case is that of Gladys Drake, an American-born woman, who married an Italian by the name of Spiros Dilasos at Denver, Colo., in 1916. In 1922 Dilasos, who owned property in Denver, inherited additional property in Italy. Thereupon Mr. and Mrs. Dilasos took their small children and went to Italy to settle Dilasos' affairs. This required longer than had been expected. In 1924 Dilasos applied for a visa to return to the United States, but was advised that his return permit had expired because he had stayed out of the United States longer than six months.
Afterwards Mrs. Dilasos, whom the 1907 act had made an alien upon her marriage to her Italian husband, tried several times to return to the United States to be repatriated under the act of 1922, but each time was told that she would have to come in under the Italian quota and that it would be years before she could be permitted to come back to her native country,
As the law stood at that time, Mrs. Dilasos would have had difficulty in being repatriated even if she had been permitted to return to this
i Sec. 4 act of Sept. 22, 1922; 42 Stat. L. 1022.