Mr. Fish to
Brussels, July 31, 1882. (Received August 14.)
Sir: The sending back of destitute Russian emigrants is attracting attention, and if followed by the return of considerable numbers of those of other nationalities, will serve to check the abuses now being carried on. The weak points in the present system of returning objectionable emigrants are that there is a lack of uniformity in its operation, and that the expense is borne by the American public, either in the way of taxes or by voluntary contributions.
The inclosed extract from the “Étoile Belge” of this morning gives an account of the return of forty destitute Russian Israelites by the Pennland. In it there is a tacit reproach to America for not keeping them, while the refusal of the Russian consul at Antwerp to recognize them as Russians, on the ground of having lost their nationality by emigrating without permission, is described as “cruelly correct.” The tacit reproach to the United States is thoroughly in accord with the prevalent European sentiment that anything or anybody is good enough for America. The article in the “Étoile Belge” is taken from the “Précurseur”, of Antwerp, and is reproduced in the “Independence Belge” of this morning without the invidious comments of the original article.
The Antwerp Israelite association deserves credit for aiding their coreligionists in proceeding towards their native land. It remains to be seen whether the Russian officials will permit them to return to their native country; and this question may give rise to a controversy between Germany and Russia which will furnish at least one of the European powers an opportunity of testing the advantages derived from having foreign paupers cast upon its territory.
I have, &c.,