Mr. Frelinghuysen to Mr. Morgan.
Washington, February 17, 1885.
Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your No. 962, of the 12th ultimo, in reply to the inquiries of this Department respecting the matriculation laws of Mexico. The Department has read with interest your careful review of the subject. It appears that matriculation of foreigners consists in registering their names and nationality in the foreign office of Mexico.
The Mexican Government contends that the national character of the foreigner is proved by this matriculation, which entitles him to special privileges and obligations, called the rights of foreigners. These are [Page 576] (1) the right to invoke the treaties and conventions existing between his country and Mexico; (2) the right to seek the protection of his own Government.
They further contend that the want of a certificate of matriculation will be considered sufficient to deny to this Government the right of diplomatic intervention in any ease.
Against this contention this Government protests as an interference in its relations to its citizens. The Government of the United States recognizes the right of Mexico to prescribe the reasonable conditions upon which foreigners may reside within her territory, and the duty of American citizens there to obey the municipal laws; but those laws cannot disturb or affect the relationship existing at all times between this Government and one of its citizens. The duty is always incumbent upon a Government to exercise a just and proper guardianship over its citizens, whether at home or abroad. A municipal act of another state cannot abridge this duty, nor is such an act countenanced by the law or usage of nations. No country is exempted from the necessity of examining into the correctness of its own acts. A sovereign who departs from the principles of public law cannot find excuse therefore in his own municipal code. This Government, being firmly convinced that the position of the Mexican Government is untenable, cannot assent to it.
You will so inform the minister for foreign affairs in such form as you may deem proper.
I am, &c.,