to Mr. Evarts.
Berne, December 9, 1880. (Received December 23.)
Sir: I called yesterday upon Mr. Droz, to congratulate him on his election to the vice-presidency, and to give him some statistics concerning immigration into the United States during the month of October.
After expressing my congratulations on his election, I asked him what the prospects were of the passage of the bill now before the Federal [Page 1075]Assembly (see my Nos. 297 and 300) respecting emigration. He said that everything appeared favorable, and that the commission of the Council of States, before whom it is now pending, had reported in favor of substituting as an amendment to section 4 of article 10 of the bill as it passed the National Council the following:
The agents are forbidden to forward:
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4. Persons to whom the laws of the country to which they emigrate forbid the entry.
And he said that he believed that would attain the end he had in view, in endeavoring to make that section of article 10 to meet our laws respecting criminals pardoned on condition of emigration.
He gave me an advanced copy of the report of the commission of the Council of States in German. I will send you additional copies in French and German when the bill comes up for discussion, probably next week. The principal alterations suggested by the commission, in addition to the one above mentioned, are a restoration of the amount of caution money to 50,000 francs (article 4), which was not, however, agreed to by Messrs. Hettlingen, of Schwyz, and Bitzius, of Berne, who favor 40,000 francs, as agreed to by the National Council; and (in article 19) giving to the department of the Federal Council, charged with the supervision of the matter of emigration, the requisite personnel to fulfill its duties.
I told Mr. Droz that should it become a law the amendment to section 4, article 10, would be satisfactory to us, as we could then legislate to prevent any abuses we might have reason to fear. I also asked him if he was aware of the large Mormon emigration from this country (reported in Foreign Relations for 1879, page 854), through Holland, and I remarked that the proposed legislation was quite in accord with the reply of this government respecting the Mormon question, and that while I had no instructions to bring that question again to the notice of this government, I should, if he wished, furnish him with a copy of Mr. Birney’s dispatch and inclosure as published, but that my so doing must not be taken as an official act. He said he should very much like to have it, and I to-day handed it to him.
The proposed amendment will, in my opinion, more than ever render it expedient for us to protect ourselves by an act of Congress from the abuses which exist in immigration at home. After the discussion of last summer in the Federal Assembly, it is not likely that the interested communes will be deterred from sending us their helpless and their pardoned criminals, if we do not take such measures as will prevent their entry. The Swiss Government might answer any complaint that may be made with remark, “If your laws permit these people to land we cannot interfere; if they forbid their entry why don’t you enforce them?” Proper legislation on our part, and a strict and rigid enforcement of the provisions of such legislation would not only obviate the possibility of such a retort, but would soon teach the commune guilty of such acts that in a pecuniary sense it was not a profitable business, as it now unfortunately, is.
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I have, &c.,