to Mr. Ryder.
Washington, January 23, 1883.
Sir: Your No. 7 of the 23d ultimo, in relation to the assisted immigration of a certain criminal from Oldrup, Jutland, to the United States, and the steps taken by you to prevent it, has been received.
I observe that, in your interview with the minister of foreign affairs in regard to Jensen’s case, you were asked for an interpretation of section 5 of the act of Congress of March 3, 1875. Your answer that it was not in your province to construe acts of Congress—that being a question reserved for the courts—was discreet.[Page 252]
For your information, I should remark that the provisions of that act, as well as of the recent act of August 3, 1882, * * * are executable by the Department of the Treasury, and that in consequence they are not made the occasion of any executory instructions of this Department to its officers abroad. The statute is applied in the ports of this country, and on general principles we could not expect a foreign Government to take measures for aiding within its own territory a federal enactment which only becomes applicable when one of the obnoxious classes reaches our shores.
On principles of comity, however, assisted immigration of undesirable persons is more than a domestic evil in the country whither they resort. It may amount to a positive act of discourtesy on the part of a foreign Government adopting such an expedient to get rid of burdensome subjects. If at any time our representatives abroad learn that the general or local authorities of a foreign country assist (by providing means or passage) the emigration of convicts and dependent paupers to the United States, it is their duty to represent the facts to the Government to which they are accredited, and to ask that the moral wrong thus attempted may be prevented as an act of due courtesy and regard for the United States as a friendly nation.
I am, &c.,