Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, With the Annual Message of the President, Transmitted to Congress December 2, 1895, Part II
Message of the President.
To the Senate:
I transmit herewith a report from the Secretary of State in answer to a resolution of the Senate of the 16th instant, requesting information in regard to the treatment of naturalized citizens of the United States of Armenian origin, and their families, by the Turkish Government.
Washington , January 23, 1896 .
Report of the Secretary of State.
The undersigned, Secretary of State, to whom was addressed a resolution passed in the Senate of the United States on the 16th instant, directing the Secretary of State—
to inform the Senate, if consistent with the public interests, first, whether naturalized citizens of the United States of Armenian birth are allowed to visit Turkey on business or to visit their families, and whether United States passports held by them are recognized by the Turkish Government; secondly, whether the families of such naturalized citizens residing in Turkey are permitted to leave that country and come to the United States; also, whether naturalized citizens of the United States of Armenian birth have the same rights and protection in that country as have naturalized citizens of Great Britain, France, Germany, or Russia—
has the honor to lay before the President the following report upon the subject-matter of the aforesaid resolution, to the end that the same may be transmitted to the Senate in answer thereto, should such course not be deemed incompatible with the public interests.
In answer to the first inquiry, the published correspondence in the volumes of the Foreign Relations for the past to years, together with [Page 1472] the statements made by the President in recent annual messages, show that the Turkish Government claims the right to exclude from the Ottoman territories, or to deport in case they be found therein, naturalized citizens of the United States of Armenian birth who have become such naturalized citizens without Imperial consent since the year 1869. This right is claimed in exercise of a prerogative of sovereignty as an executive measure in regard to aliens whose presence in the Empire may be deemed prejudicial to the public interest. Its enforcement in regard to such persons has not been opposed, nor has remonstrance been made save in the case of arrest or punitive proceedings against the parties on the ground of their having become citizens of the United States without Imperial permission. United States passports held by persons so situated are recognized by the Turkish authorities as evidence of the fact of naturalization and citizenship, but the recognition so accorded does not prejudice the exercise of the sovereign right of exclusion or expulsion for the causes stated.
The law of Turkey, like that of Russia and some other countries, does not recognize unpermitted change of allegiance by a Turkish subject; but, although no treaty of naturalization exists between the United States and Turkey in regulation of this point, no instance has yet been pressed by the Turkish Government in assertion of a right to treat the individual as a Turkish subject or to punish him for the alleged offense of becoming a citizen of a foreign State without permission.
The second branch of the Senate inquiry covers two distinct matters. It is asked, in the first place, whether the families of such naturalized citizens residing in Turkey are permitted to leave that country and come to the United States. By “the families of such naturalized citizens” the resolution is presumed to mean the wives and minor children, who alone might, when within the jurisdiction of the United States, be held to acquire citizenship through the naturalization of the husband or father.
The naturalization laws of the United States being obviously framed to permit the bestowal of the franchise of citizenship upon certain persons of alien birth who are within its jurisdiction, and the application of these statutes being intrusted to the judicial branch, it is clear that they can not operate to naturalize by indirection or by executive interpretation a person who is an alien by birth and origin, who has never been within the jurisdiction of the United States, and who at the time may be dwelling within a foreign jurisdiction.
The Turkish Government has on several occasions permitted the emigration of the wives and children of Turkish subjects who had come to the United States and here acquired citizenship, leaving their families behind them. It has even permitted the emigration of other kinsmen of a degree not within the purview of the naturalization laws of the United States. It has also, asserting a discretionary power in the premises, refused to permit the emigration of the families of naturalized Armenians, even within the marital or filial degree. The good offices of the United States minister are uniformly exerted on all proper occasions to assist the emigration of such persons, upon permission properly secured from the Turkish authorities, and, when funds have been assured to pay the journey, he has assisted their departure. He has likewise assisted the coming to the United States of the wives of citizens of Armenian origin, who, being in this country at or subsequent to the naturalization of their husbands, have returned to Turkey; and of the children of such citizens, born abroad subsequent to the naturalization of the father or who may have acquired American citizenship [Page 1473] by actual presence in the United States subsequent to the father’s naturalization, and in such instances permission for the families to emigrate has been demanded as of right. These latter instances, however, are relatively few in number compared with the cases in which good offices have been exerted, with varying success, to procure the emigration from the Turkish dominions of the kindred of a naturalized Armenian, including the parents, brothers, and sisters, and even relatives of remoter degree, who could not become citizens of the United States except by individual naturalization.
The resolution further inquires:
Whether naturalized citizens of the United States of Armenian birth have the same rights and protection in that country as have naturalized citizens of Great Britain, France, Germany, or Russia.
As to this, the privilege claimed by the Government of the United States for such citizens by naturalization in the country of origin is greater than that claimed by any one of the four Governments named. A very general rule among Governments of the European continent, and one which obtains in principle with respect to Great Britain also, is that no alien may be admitted to become a citizen of the State by naturalization except upon production of proof that his change of allegiance is permitted by the sovereign of whom he is already a dependent.
In the case of Great Britain this rule is somewhat differently applied. The British statute of naturalization prescribes that the naturalization of an alien shall be without force and effect should he return to the country of his original allegiance, unless by the laws thereof or by treaty between that country and Great Britain his change of status is recognized, and an indorsement in the language of the naturalization act is made upon all British passports issued to aliens as follows:
This passport is granted with the qualification that the bearer shall not, when within the limits of the foreign State of which he was a subject previously to obtaining his certificate of naturalization, be deemed a British subject unless he has ceased to be a subject of that State in pursuance of the laws thereof or in pursuance of a treaty to that effect.
The United States minister at Constantinople has heretofore reported that naturalized Armenian or other Turkish subjects of Great Britain, France, Germany, or Russia returning to the jurisdiction of Turkey are not claimed by their adopted Governments as citizens, nor protected as such, except upon proof that their change of allegiance has been permitted, or is recognized, by the Government of Turkey.
Washington , January 22, 1896 .