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observed “toward the aliens who become so liable.” This language still further confirms my opinion that all aliens who come within the scope of the words “natives, citizens, denizens, or subjects,” of the hostile country, are liable to be treated“ as alien enemies.”
The Department has, since April 6, 1917, construed the law to apply to all persons born in Germany other than American citizens. The matter has been presented to this Department by you again by letters of October 8, November 22 and December 7,1 in which you state that the question has arisen in connection with German-born who have become naturalized in Great Britain, Denmark and Argentina.
In your letter of November 22, you suggest that a reply be made to the British Government “that Germans who are naturalized in the United States are entitled to be regarded as American citizens, and reciprocally Germans naturalized in Canada are entitled to be regarded as Canadian citizens, and to be treated in either case as loyal until the presumption in this respect is weakened.”
If your suggestion merely applies to the administration of the statute by this Department, I see no objection to it as it is in line with the method of administration now practiced, but if it is intended as a statement of the views of this Government that the statute does not legally apply to naturalized German-born British citizens, then I cannot concur with it. The provisions of the President's proclamation regarding the entry of German-born into this country, and the presence of the German-born in the District of Columbia, for instance, must be, in my opinion, equally applied to all German-born foreigners, whether naturalized British citizens or naturalized Mexican citizens or naturalized Swedish citizens, German born. To take any other position, would, in my opinion, be highly dangerous.
So far, therefore, as the question of law is concerned, I am satisfied that if privileges are to be given to German-born, naturalized in other countries, they must be so given by Congressional legislation amending the present statute.
I am equally satisfied, however, that the question is not really one of law, but rather of practical administration of the statute, and as the Solicitor General has already written to you, under date of September 20, 1917,2 " there is room for wide discretion in administering the act as thus interpreted. We should be slow to invoke it against one of German birth who is in good faith a naturalized citizen of a friendly government, and especially of one at war with Germany." This wide discretion, as above stated, this Department has already exercised, and in various cases has treated liberally and issued permits
Not printed. · Letter not printed.
to German-born naturalized in Canada where such treatment would not have been accorded to a German citizen. This liberal administration of the law and this discrimination between the different classes of alien enemies will continue to be exercised by this Department.
I call your especial attention to the fact that the statute as thus construed, makes it comparatively simple of administration for we avoid all difficulty which might arise from a misconstruction of the naturalization laws of foreign countries, and we also achieve a high degree of accuracy in ascertaining what constitutes an alien enemy, it being comparatively simple to ascertain the place of birth of any particular person, but in many cases difficult to prove nationality or citizenship.
The British Ambassador, in his memorandum of July 30, 1917, transmitted by the State Department to me, states that the protection afforded to German-born by United States naturalization papers “ constitutes a serious menace to the welfare of the Dominion and the vigorous prosecution of the war in which both the United States and the British Empire are engaged. It will of course be remembered that the German Government does not recognize the naturalization papers of a born German subject, once the holder of those papers returns to Germany; and that such persons become automatically repatriated as German subjects as soon as they return within the confines of the German Empire.” If Germans, naturalized in the United States, constitute a menace to the welfare of the Dominion, it is difficult to see why Germans naturalized in the Dominion do not equally constitute a menace to the United States. I fail to see, therefore, why each nation may not safeguard itself against this menace by legislation. If Canada has not already enacted such legislation, it simply shows that this country, by enacting our statute of 1798, showed greater forethought and adopted safeguards against danger at an earlier period. Respectfully,
T. W. GREGORY File No. 763.72115/3280 The Acting Secretary of State to the Argentine Chargé (Quintana)
WASHINGTON, March 13, 1918. MY DEAR MR. CHARGÉ: Referring to the several communications from your Embassy 1 with regard to the case of Alberto Fehlandt. an Argentine citizen of German nativity, who has complained to the Embassy regarding annoyances alleged to have been occasioned him by the Federal authorities, I beg to advise you that this matter has been brought to the attention of the Department of Justice.
Since Mr. Fehlandt was born a subject of a country with which the United States is now at war, it is not unnatural that he should entertain, as between the United States and Germany, sympathetic sentiments for the country of his birth and that therefore he should be subject to the presumption that his attitude might be inimicable to the United States now the enemy of his native country. When viewed in this light I am sure that you will agree with me that this Government must, in the interest of the public safety, recognize these natural inclinations and act upon the presumptions to be drawn therefrom, at least to the extent of regarding such aliens, although of neutral nationality in law, with circumspection. Such I am now advised has been the course of the Department of Justice, but I am confident that Mr. Fehlandt will not have any cause for further complaint and will not be occasioned any serious inconveniences so long as he observes the laws of the United States. I am [etc.]
FRANK L. POLK
File No. 311.59/52
The Secretary of State to the Attorney General (Gregory)
WASHINGTON, May 31, 1918. Sir: Referring to previous correspondence 1 in respect to the case of Capt. M. S. Hveissel, a Danish subject who was detained at Ellis Island for about seven weeks from October 29, to December 19, 1917, by American authorities, apparently for the reason that he was born in 1866 in Flensborg, Germany, and is therefore classed as an alien enemy under Revised Statutes 4067, I have the honor to enclose copies of two notes which have been received from the Danish Minister, dated April 8, and May 17, 1918,1 presenting a claim on behalf of Captain Hveissel for pecuniary losses caused him by his internment at Ellis Island. I would be pleased to have such comments as you may desire to make upon these communications, and to be furnished with a full statement of facts in this case in order that I may be in a position to make an appropriate reply to the notes of the Danish Minister.
I have not forwarded these notes at an earlier date, inasmuch as it was necessary to give consideration to the general question as to whether claims presented on behalf of foreign governments for the detention of their subjects under Revised Statutes 4067 were valid and just under the law and practice of nations. In this connection it has been necessary to consider questions of policy in view of the previous attitude and position of the United States on the ques
tion of expatriation and naturalization. A brief preliminary summary of the study of these questions in the Department is enclosed herewith." I have [etc.]
File No. 311.59/70
The Acting Secretary of State to the Danish Minister (Brun) No. 464
WASHINGTON, July 18, 1918. Sir: Referring to your notes of April 8 and May 7 , 1918, in regard to the claim of Capt. M. S. Hveissel for pecuniary losses caused by his internment at Ellis Island, I have the honor to inform you that I am in receipt of a letter, dated June 13, from the Department of Justice reading in part as follows:
This Department has the honor to advise you that Captain Hveissel is evidently under misapprehension when he states that he was interned at Ellis Island. Captain Hveissel was originally detained on October 31, 1917, by the immigration authorities at Ellis Island, as is customary in all cases where aliens apply for admission into the United States. No presidential warrant was ever issued for the detention of Captain Hveissel, but in his application for permission to enter and depart from the United States he made a statement to the effect that he was a native of the German Empire. The immigration authorities, as is customary in such matters, granted a hearing to Captain Hveissel and found him “inadmissible under the immigration laws, but being a native of Germany, unanimously excluded under regulation 10 of the President's proclamation of April 6, 1917.” On November 13, 1917, a copy of the hearing and decision by the Special Board of Inquiry by the Department of Labor was forwarded to this Department in order that a decision might be rendered by the Department on the application of Captain Hveissel that he be allowed to enter and depart from the United States. On December 11, 1917, this Department advised the Secretary of Labor that the Department of Justice consented to the entrance and departure of Captain Hveissel and a formal permit to enter and depart was at that time granted. In due course, Captain Hveissel was released by the immigration authorities on December 19, 1917, and granted a permit to depart from the United States.
From these facts you can readily see that Captain Hveissel was at no time held under internment process and that his case was entirely one under the immigration law at all stages with the exception that a permit from this Department was necessary before he could be allowed by the immigration authorities to enter and depart from the United States. The question of granting a permit to him was decided upon in due course with only such delay as was necessary to a proper and thorough investigation of the circumstances of his arrival in the United States, the purpose of his visit and the advisability of granting him admission.
* Not printed.
While the Department realizes that Captain Hveissel was put to considerable inconvenience as the result of the procedure followed in all cases where alien enemies apply for admission into the United States under regulation 10 of the President's proclamation of April 6, 1917, nevertheless, this Department is firmly of the opinion that it would be dangerous to the safety and welfare of the United States to allow natives of the German Empire, though naturalized in countries other than the United States, to freely enter and depart from the United States without a thorough and careful investigation as to the reasons for their presence in or departure from the United States, especially in view of the fact that persons falling within this class are in a peculiarly advantageous position to render aid and assistance to the enemies of the United States. This Department, furthermore, is of the opinion that persons of this class, unless properly vouched for, should be detained at the port of arrival or departure for a sufficient length of time to allow any information from the enemy or of value to the enemy to become worthless by lapse of time.
Accordingly, this Department has the honor to state that in its opinion the claim submitted by Captain Hveissel is without foundation.
OFFICERS AND CREWS OF GERMAN MERCHANT SHIPS IN
AMERICAN PORTS 1
File No. 763.72111/4757
The Secretary of Labor (Wilson) to the Secretary of State
WASHINGTON, April 6, 1917. MY DEAR MR. SECRETARY: As an expeditious means of furnishing you with information with respect to the manner in which this Department has cared for the officers and crewmen of the German vessels lying in American ports, I have the honor to hand you herewith a copy of a communication which I am at this time sending to the President. Cordially yours,
W. B. WILSON
The Secretary of Labor (Wilson) to President Wilson
WASHINGTON, April 6, 1917. MY DEAR MR. PRESIDENT: I desire to submit the following report with regard to what has been done by this Department in the matter
For correspondence regarding the taking over of German merchant ships in American ports, see Foreign Relations, 1917, Supplement 2, vol. II, pp. 1245 et seq.