Mr. Gresham to Baron Fava.
Washington, June 13, 1894.
Excellency: Your note of the 22d of January of this year, inclosing a draft of a proposed agreement supplementary to the extradition treaty existing between the United States and Italy, and a draft of a proposed naturalization convention between the two Governments, together with your comments thereon, have been carefully considered.
In reply I have the honor to inform you that the President is unwilling to enter into any treaty of extradition which will exclude citizens or subjects of either country from its operation.
No good reason is perceived why citizens of the United States who commit crimes in Italy, or Italian subjects who commit crimes in the United States, should not, if they take refuge in their own country, be delivered up by its authorities to the country whose laws they have violated. A refusal to surrender them would result in the case of Americans committing crime in Italy in an utter failure of justice; and though Italy may undertake to punish her subjects who, after committing crime here, return within her jurisdiction, yet the means of ascertaining the truth and doing justice must under such conditions always be difficult and often unattainable.
I regret to say also it is impossible for this Government to accept your views regarding a naturalization convention.
In the first place, it is proposed by you as essential that citizenship by naturalization in this country shall only be conferred upon persons who make application therefor. This would exclude Italian women intermarrying with American citizens, who, under our law, thereby become themselves American citizens. It would likewise exclude minor children of Italians who became naturalized in this country—such children under our law becoming citizens of this country, if dwelling here, by the mere fact of the naturalization of the father.
Your excellency, in conversation, has called this Department’s attention to the provision of the Italian civil code declaring the wife and minor children of Italian citizens who have lost their nationality to be foreigners, unless they continue to reside in the Kingdom. This, you think, should remove the objection above stated. But can Italians lose their nationality in the view of the Italian Government, except with the consent of that Government, or in pursuance of treaties made by it with other Governments’? And would not the treaty determine and limit the status of citizenship, notwithstanding the law of Italy? Such, I think, would be the case from the Italian point of view. I am, therefore, constrained to the opinion that the principle you contend for, viz, that citizenship by naturalization shall only be acquired by those who make application for it, being in direct conflict with your civil code, should not find a place in a naturalization treaty.
To incorporate this provision in the treaty would be to deny, by implication at least, to the wives and minor children of Italians who [Page 365]apply for and obtain naturalization here, the right and recognition as American citizens to which, by Italian law, they are entitled.
Your insistence upon another point also imposes an obstacle to the conclusion of a naturalization treaty. I refer to the claim of right on the part of His Majesty’s Government to refuse to recognize naturalization in this country as exempting former Italian subjects returning to Italy from the military duties imposed by the laws of that country, or from penalties for failure to meet military obligations. This Government could not agree to permit Italy to exercise such right, except where the obligation had actually accrued before the emigration of the party to this country.
I beg to call your attention to Article i of our naturalization treaty with Belgium, Article ii of our naturalization treaty with Austria-Hungary, and Article iv of our naturalization treaty with the North German Union. To the latter your attention is particularly directed as meeting any suggestions which might be made of naturalization being acquired here with the view of evading military duty on returning to Italy.
This Government would be willing to conclude a treaty of naturalization with Italy on the basis of these articles. But it must emphatically decline to recognize the right of that Government to the military service of Italians who, after being naturalized here, return to Italy, still retaining their American citizenship.