No. 669.
Mr. Fish to Mr. Evarts.

No. 328.]

Sir: Referring to my No. 322, I have the honor to inclose herewith a copy,* in French, of the federal law concerning the operation of emigration agencies as it is published in the Feuille Fédérale of the 8th instant.

I shall send you as printed matter several copies in French and German.

The law will not cure the evils of assisted emigration, but it will ameliorate the condition of such emigrants as may be forwarded by the licensed agencies in this country, and it should cause us to scrutinize with suspicion all Swiss emigrants not forwarded by the agencies licensed by this government.

It is due to the Federal Council that we should recognize the strenuous endeavors they made to make section 4 of the 10th article conform to our statute respecting the shipment of pardoned criminals. They did not succeed in securing the enactment of their original proposition, which forbade the agents to forward—

Persons having to undergo a penal sentence for crimes which are not of a political nature or in connection with political crimes, besides those persons to whom a remission of sentence has been made on condition of their emigration.

They were, however, successful in procuring a substitute which, under our existing legislation, includes all such persons, and should Congress see fit to legislate to exclude other catagories of objectionable immigrants, the agents licensed by this government would be by the present law prohibited from forwarding them. The Federal Council met with strenuous opposition, and their endeavors to legislate to respect the usages of international law and the provisions of our statute for a time jeopardized the whole bill. Fortunately, owing to the tact and judgment of Mr. Droz, the bill was saved, with the following amendment to article 10:

The agents are forbidden to forward * * * those persons that the laws of the country of destination prohibit to be received as immigrants.

I have but little doubt that the law will go into effect without much opposition, and should it be exposed to a popular vote, I have no doubt that it would be accepted by a large majority. It has, however, to await [Page 1108] three months from its publication (January 8, 1881) before it can be put in operation.

I believe that the legislation thus enacted is all that we can expect from Switzerland to prevent abuses in emigration. If we desire to prevent those in immigration, we should legislate for the purpose.

I take pleasure in stating that the Federal Council, throughout the discussion of this law, have sought to ameliorate both the condition and class of emigrants, and have shown a friendly desire to make their legislation conform, as far as circumstances permit, with the requirements of our immigration laws.

I have, &c.,

  1. The law as proposed, together with the modifications as adopted, will be found as an inclosure to Mr. Fish’s No. 297, of September 18, 1880, printed in Senate Ex. Doc. No. 62, Forty-sixth Congress, third session, p. 117.