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Immigration Act of February 5, 1917 as Amended and Supplemented1
REGULATING THE IMMIGRATION OF ALIENS TO AND RESIDENCE OF ALIENS IN THE UNITED STATES
DEFINITIONS; ALIENS; UNITED STATES; SEAMEN
SECTION 1. That the word "alien" wherever used in this Act shall include any person not a native-born or naturalized citizen of the United States; but this definition shall not be held to include Indians of the United States not taxed or citizens of the islands under the jurisdiction of the United States. That the term
The main elements of statutory historical background of the creation and development of the Immigration and Naturalization Service are as follows: Sec. 7, Act of March 3, 1891 (26 Stat. 1085; 8 U. S. C. 101), created an office of superintendent of immigration in the Treasury Department, at the head of which was an officer known as the Superintendent of Immigration, under the control and supervision of the Secretary of the Treasury.
Section 1, Act of March 2, 1895 (28 Stat. 780; 8 U. S. C. 101), changed the former title of "Superintendent of Immigration" to the "Commissioner-General of Immigra tion."
The Acts of Feb. 14, 1903 (32 Stat. 828), and of April 28, 1904 (33 Stat. 591; 8 U. S. C. 101), transferred the control of the immigration of aliens into the United States from the Secretary of the Treasury to the Secretary of Commerce and Labor.
Section 3, Act of March 4, 1913 (37 Stat. 737; 8 U. S. C. 101), transferred the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization from the Department of Commerce and Labor to the newly created Department of Labor. At the same time the Bureau was divided into two bureaus named the Bureau of Immigration, with a Commissioner General of Immigration at its head, and the Bureau of Naturalization, headed by a Commissioner of Naturalization.
Executive Order 6166, June 10, 1933, section 14 (5 U. S. C., following Chapter 1), consolidated the Bureaus of Immigration and of Naturalization of the Department of Labor into one bureau named the Immigration and Naturalization Service at the head of which was placed a Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization. This provision constitutes the authority for changing the former titles of Commissioner General of Immigration and Commissioner of Naturalization, appearing in statutes prior to the Executive Order, to the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization.
Reorganization Plan No. V (5 F. R. 2223), prepared by the President and transmitted to the Congress May 22, 1940, pursuant to the provisions of the Reorganization Act of 1939, approved April 8, 1939 (53 Stat. 561; 5 U. S. C. 133-133r), which Plan became effective June 14, 1940 (5 F. R. 2132, June 5, 1940), transferred the Immigration and Naturalization Service of the Department of Labor (including the Office of the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization) and its functions to the Department of Justice, and directed that the Service be administered under the direction and supervision of the Attorney General. All functions and powers of the Secretary of Labor relating to the administration of the Immigration and Naturalization Service and its functions or to the administration of the immigration and naturalization laws were transferred by such Plan to the Attorney General.
Section 37 (a), Act of June 28, 1940 (54 Stat. 675; 8 U. S. C. 458), authorizes the Commissioner with the approval of the Attorney General, to make and prescribe, and from time to time to change and amend such rules and regulations not in conflict with this Act as he may deem necessary and proper in aid of the administration and enforcement of this Act.
The subheadings used in the body of the text are for purposes of identification of subject matter. Usually they are not found in the law as enacted.
For other provisions covering the definition of "alien", see Act of March 24, 1934 (48 U. S. C. 1238), p. 100, sec. 28 (b), Act of May 26, 1924 (8 U. S. C. 224), p. 59 and secs. 101 (b), 318 (b), 503, Act of October 14, 1940 (8 U. 8. C. 401 (b), 718 (b), 903). 118, and
PP See also Act of June 2, 1924 (43 Stat. 253; 8 U. S. C. 3, 175), pp. 352 and 527;
Act of June 4, 1924 (43 Stat. 380), p. 527; Act of Jan. 25, 1929 (45 Stat. 1094), p. 531; Sec. 201 (b), Act of Oct. 14, 1940 (54 Stat. 1138-1139; 8 U. S. C. 601), p. 356, conferring citizenship upon Indians.
"United States" as used in the title as well as in the various sections of this Act shall be construed to mean the United States, and any waters, territory, or other place subject to the jurisdiction thereof, except the Isthmian Canal Zone; but if any alien shall leave the Canal Zone or any insular possession of the United States and attempt to enter any other place under the jurisdiction of the United States, nothing contained in this Act shall be construed as permitting him to enter under any other conditions than those applicable to all aliens. That the term "seaman" as used in this Act shall include every person signed on the ship's articles and employed in any capacity on board any vessel arriving in the United States from any foreign port or place. (39 Stat. 874; 8 U. S. C. 173.)
TAX ON ALIENS ENTERING UNITED STATES; LIEN OF TAX ON VESSELS, ETC.
SEC. 2. That there shall be levied, collected, and paid a tax of $8 for every alien, including alien seamen regularly admitted as provided in this Act, entering the United States: Provided, That children under sixteen years of age who accompany their father or their mother shall not be subject to said tax. The said tax shall be paid to the collector of customs of the port or customs district to which said alien shall come, or, if there be no collector at such port. or district, then to the collector nearest thereto, by the master, agent, owner, or consignee of the vessel, transportation line, or other conveyance or vehicle bringing such alien to the United States, or by the alien himself if he does not come by a vessel, transportation line, or other conveyance or vehicle or when collection from the master, agent, owner, or consignee of the vessel, transportation line, or other conveyance, or vehicle bringing such alien to the United States is impracticable. The tax imposed by this section shall be a lien upon the vessel or other vehicle of carriage or transportation bringing such aliens to the United States, and shall be a debt in favor of the United States against the owner or owners of such vessel or other vehicle, and the payment of such tax may be enforced by any legal or equitable remedy. That the said tax shall not be levied on account of aliens who enter the United States after an uninterrupted residence of at least one year immediately preceding such entrance in the Dominion of Canada, Newfoundland, the Republic of Cuba, or the Republic of Mexico, for a temporary stay, nor on account of otherwise admissible residents or citizens of any possession of the United States, nor on account of aliens in transit through the United States, nor upon aliens who have been lawfully admitted to the United States and who later shall go in transit from one part of the United States to
The last paragraph of sec. 1. Act of February 5, 1917 (39 Stat. 874; 8 U. S. C. 175), which read as follows: "That this Act be enforced in the Philippine Islands by officers of the general government thereof, unless and until it is superseded by an act passed by the Philippine Legislature and approved by the President of the United States to regulate immigration in the Philippine Islands as authorized in the Act entitled 'An Act to declare the purpose of the people of the United States as to the future political status of the people of the Philippine Islands, and to provide a more autonomous government for those islands,' approved August twenty-ninth, nineteen hundred and sixteen," in effect was repealed by the substitution of the Philippine Independence Act of March 24, 1934, as amended (48 Stat. 456, 462, 463; 53 Stat. 1226; 48 U. S. C. 1232, 1238), p. 100.
For other provisions covering head tax, see R. S. 2164, sec. 16, Act of May 31, 1870 (16 Stat. 144; 8 U. S. C. 135), p. 63, and Public Resolution 44, p. 79. For provision authorizing the refunding of head tax erroneously collected see Act of Feb. 3, 1905, p. 65. For disposition of head tax, see Act of Mar. 4, 1909, p. 67.
another through foreign contiguous territory, and the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization, with the approval of the Attorney General, shall issue rules and regulations and prescribe the conditions necessary to prevent abuse of these exceptions: Provided, That the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization under the direction or with the approval of the Attorney General, by agreement with transportation lines, as provided in section twenty-three of this Act, may arrange in some other manner for the payment of the tax imposed by this section upon any or all aliens seeking admission from foreign contiguous territory: Provided further, That in the cases of aliens applying for admission from foreign contiguous territory and rejected, the head tax collected shall upon application, upon a blank which shall be furnished and explained to him, be refunded to the alien. (39 Stat. 875; 8 U. S. C. 132.)
ALIENS EXCLUDED FROM THE UNITED STATES
SEC. 3. That the following classes of aliens shall be excluded from admission into the United States: All idiots, imbeciles, feeble-minded persons, epileptics, insane persons; persons who have had one or more attacks of insanity at any time previously; persons of constitutional psychopathic inferiority; persons with chronic alcoholism; paupers; professional beggars; vagrants; persons afflicted with tuberculosis in any form or with a loathsome or dangerous contagious disease; persons not comprehended within any of the foregoing excluded classes who are found to be and are certified by the examining surgeon as being mentally or physically defective, such physical defect being of a nature which may affect the ability of such alien to earn a living; persons who have been convicted of or admit having committed a felony or other crime or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude; polygamists, or persons who practice polygamy or believe in or advocate the practice of polygamy; anarchists, or persons who believe in or advocate the overthrow by force or violence of the Government of the United States, or of all forms of law, or who disbelieve in or are opposed to organized government, or who advocate the assassination of
The third proviso of sec. 2, Act of February 5, 1917 (39 Stat. 875; 8 U. S. C. 132), which read as follows: "Provided further, That said tax, when levied upon allens entering the Philippine Islands, shall be paid into the treasury of said islands, to be expended for the benefit of such islands:", in effect was repealed by the substitution of the Philippine Independence Act of March 24, 1934, as amended (48 Stat. 456, 462, 463; 53 Stat, 1226; 48 U. S. C. 1232, 1238), and the Philippine Independence Act of May 2, 1940. For refund of head tax, see Act of Feb. 3, 1905 (33 Stat, 684; 8 U. S. C. 134), p. 65. Act of Feb. 14, 1944, sec. 5 (g) (Pub. Law 229), p. 132, exempts from payment of head tax agricultural laborers admitted under that Act.
For other classes of aliens excluded from admission into the United States see also sec. 4, p. 7, and last proviso of sec. 18, Act of February 5, 1917 (39 Stat. 887-889; 8 U. S. C. 154), p. 21; sec. 23, Act of February 5, 1917 (39 Stat. 892; 8 U. S. C., 101-2, 108, 160), as amended by the Act of May 14, 1937 (50 Stat. 164; 8 U. S. C. 102), p. 28; Act of October 16, 1918 (40 Stat, 1012; 8 U. S. C. 137 (g)), as amended by the Acts of June 5, 1920 (41 Stat. 1008; 8 U. S. C. 137 (a)–(f)), and June 28, 1940 (54 Stat. 673; 8 U. S. C. 137), p. 77; Act of May 10, 1920 (41 Stat. 593; 8 U. S. C. 157), p. 80; sec. 18, Act of May 26, 1924, as amended by the Acts of June 13, 1930, and May 14, 1937 (43 Stat. 161-162; 46 Stat. 581; 50 Stat. 165; 8 U. S. C. 213_(a)-(f)), p. 52; and sec. 17, Act of May 26, 1924 (43 Stat. 163-164; 8 U. S. C. 217), p. 55; Act of March 4, 1929, as amended by Act of June 24, 1929 (45 Stat. 1551; 46 Stat. 41; 8 U. S. C. 180), p. 93; and sec. 30, Act of June 28, 1940 (54 Stat. 673; 8 U. S. C. 451), p. 113.
For additional provisions relative to anarchists and similar classes see sec. 28, p. 32, Act of October 16, 1918 (40 Stat. 1012; 8 U. S. C. 137 (g)), p. 77, as amended by the Acts of June 5, 1920 (41 Stat. 1008; 8 U. S. C. 137 (a)-(f), and June 28, 1940 (54 Stat. 673; 8 U. S. C. 137), p. 109, and the Act of May 10, 1920, p. 80.
public officials, or who advocate or teach the unlawful destruction of property; persons who are members of or affiliated with any organization entertaining and teaching disbelief in or opposition to organized government, or who advocate or teach the duty, necessity, or propriety of the unlawful assaulting or killing of any officer or officers, either of specific individuals or of officers generally, of the Government of the United States or of any other organized government, because of his or their official character, or who advocate or teach the unlawful destruction of property; prostitutes, or persons coming into the United States for the purpose of prostitution or for any other immoral purpose; persons who directly or indirectly procure or attempt to procure or import prostitutes or persons for the purpose of prostitution or for any other immoral purpose; persons who are supported by or receive in whole or in part the proceeds of prostitution; persons hereinafter called contract laborers, who have been induced, assisted, encouraged, or solicited to migrate to this country by offers or promises of employment, whether such offers or promises are true or false, or in consequence of agreements, oral, written or printed, express or implied, to perform labor in this country of any kind, skilled or unskilled; persons who have come in consequence of advertisements for laborers printed, published, or distributed in a foreign country; persons likely to become a public charge; 10 persons who have been excluded from admission and deported in pursuance of law, and who may again seek admission within one year from the date of such deportation, unless prior to their reembarkation at a place outside the United States or their attempt to be admitted from foreign contiguous territory the Attorney General has consented to their reapplying for admission; " persons whose ticket or passage is paid for with the money of another, or who are assisted by others to come, unless it is affirmatively and satisfactorily shown that such persons do not belong to one of the foregoing excluded classes; persons whose ticket or passage is paid for by any corporation, association, society, municipality, or foreign government, either directly or indirectly; " stowaways," except that any such stowaway, if otherwise admissible, may be admitted
Act of Feb. 14, 1944, sec. 5 (g) (Pub. Law 229), p. 132, waives this requirement in the case of agricultural laborers seeking admission under the provisions of that Act. 10 This clause excluding aliens on ground of being likely to become public charges has been shifted by Congress from its position in section 2 of the Act of February 20, 1907 (34 Stat. 898), to its present position in section 3 of the Act of February 5, 1917 (39 Stat. 876; 8 U. S. C. 136), in order to indicate the intention of Congress that aliens shall be excluded upon said ground for economic as well as other reasons and with a view to overcoming the decision of the Supreme Court in Geglow v. Uhl, 239 U. S. 3. (S. Rept. 352, 64th Cong., 1st Sess.)
11 Sec. 1 (d), Act of March 4, 1929 (45 Stat. 1551; 8 U. S. C. 136). Prior thereto, sec. 3, Act of February 5, 1917 (39 Stat. 876), read in part as follows: "persons who have been deported under any of the provisions of this Act, and who may again seek admission within one year from the date of such deportation, unless prior to their reembarkation at a foreign port or their attempt to be admitted from foreign contiguous territory the Secretary of Labor shall have consented to their reapplying for admission: •
Act of Feb. 14, 1944, sec. 5 (g) (Pub. Law 229), p. 132, waives this requirement in the case of agricultural laborers seeking admission under that Act.
For inapplicability of excluding provisions relating to readmission of certain aliens conscripted or volunteering for service with the military forces of the United States or cobelligerent forces during World War One see Act of Oct. 19, 1918 (40 Stat. 1014; 8 U. S. C. 230), p. 79. See also Act of June 11, 1940 (54 Stat. 306), which makes stowing away on vessels departing from or arriving in the United States a misdemeanor punishable by fine or imprisonment or both, p. 106.
in the discretion of the Attorney General; all children under sixteen years of age, unaccompanied by or not coming to one or both of their parents, except that any such children may, in the discretion of the Attorney General, be admitted if in his opinion they are not likely to become a public charge and are otherwise eligible; unless otherwise provided for by existing treaties, persons who are natives of islands not possessed by the United States adjacent to the continent of Asia, situate south of the twentieth parallel latitude north, west of the one hundred and sixtieth meridian of longitude east from Greenwich, and north of the tenth parallel of latitude south, or who are natives of any country, province, or dependency situate on the Continent of Asia west of the one hundred and tenth meridian of longitude east from Greenwich and east of the fiftieth meridian of longitude east from Greenwich and south of the fiftieth parallel of latitude north, except that portion of said territory situate between the fiftieth and the sixty-fourth meridians of longitude east from Greenwich and the twentyfourth and thirty-eighth parallels of latitude north, and no alien now in any way excluded from, or prevented from entering, the United States shall be admitted to the United States. The provision next foregoing, however, shall not apply to persons of the following status or occupations: Government officers, ministers or religious teachers, missionaries, lawyers, physicians, chemists, civil engineers, teachers, students, authors, artists, merchants, and travelers for curiosity or pleasure, nor to their legal wives or their children under sixteen years of age who shall accompany them or who subsequently may apply for admission to the United States, but such persons or their legal wives or foreign-born children who fail to maintain in the United States a status or occupation placing them within the excepted classes shall be deemed to be in the United States contrary to law, and shall be subject to deportation as provided in section nineteen of this Act.
That after three months from the passage of this Act in addition to the aliens who are by law now excluded from admission into the United States, the following persons shall also be excluded from admission thereto, to wit:
All aliens over sixteen years of age, physically capable of reading, who can not read the English language, or some other language or dialect, including Hebrew or Yiddish: 15 Provided,  That any admissible alien, or any alien heretofore or hereafter legally admitted, or any citizen of the United States, may bring in or send for his father or grandfather over fifty-five years of age, his wife, his mother, his grandmother, or his unmarried or widowed daughter, if otherwise admissible, whether such relative can read or not; and such relative shall be permitted to enter. That for the purpose of ascertaining whether aliens can read the immigrant inspectors shall be furnished with slips of uniform size, prepared
14 See Treaty between the United States and China concerning immigration, p. 201. Act of Feb. 14, 1944, sec. 5 (g) (Pub. Law 229), p. 132, waives this requirement in the case of agricultural laborers seeking admission under that Act.
18 Provisos have been numbered as a matter of convenience. The numbers do not appear in the statute.