Mr. Wu to Mr. Hay .
Washington , February 18, 1899 .
Sir: Referring to my note of the 12th of December last, in which I called your attention to the condition of Chinese residents of the Hawaiian Islands, and the great injury and injustice which would be done them by excluding them from those islands, I have the honor to add a few more observations on the subject in view of the proposed action of the American Congress to extend the present Chinese-exclusion laws to those islands.
I have before me a copy of the report from the Senate Committee on Immigration amending the bill (H. R. 11247) to extend the anti-contract labor laws of the United States to Hawaii, and recommending its passage, in which I find that the acts to prohibit the coming of Chinese persons into the United States, approved May 5, 1892, and November 3, 1893, are to be extended to and over the island of Hawaii and all adjacent islands and waters of the islands ceded to the United States by the Government of Hawaii and accepted by the joint resolution of Congress, approved July 7, 1898, so far as such laws may be applicable. It is well known that the above-mentioned acts require all Chinese laborers to take out certificates of residence or forfeit their right to remain in the United States. But the Chinese laborers in Hawaii could not take out the prescribed certification of residence at the time when those acts were passed, and there is no means provided for their taking out such certificates now. It seems unjust to make the enjoyment of the right to remain in those islands, to which the Chinese laborers now there are clearly entitled, dependent upon the fulfillment of a condition manifestly impossible.
I am informed that there are about 200 Chinese who hold permits from the Hawaiian Government entitling them to return to the islands. To the validity of these permits the faith of the Hawaiian Government was pledged. As by the annexation of those islands the Government of the United States acquires all the rights and assumes all the obligations of the Hawaiian Government, it seems to me that the Government of the United States is at least morally bound to recognize the permits issued by the proper authorities of Hawaii. The extension of the exclusion laws to Hawaii would deprive those Chinese of their undoubted right to reenter those islands at a single stroke, and I hope that further consideration will deter the Government of the United States from a step that involves the faith of the nation.
Before concluding these remarks, permit me to make a suggestion. The immigration and contract-labor laws of the United States now in force seem to me stringent enough to keep out the undesirable elements of every foreign community from the country. The extension of these laws to Hawaii, without the enforcement of the Chinese-exclusion acts, would serve as an effectual bar to the further coming to those islands of the objectionable class of Chinese, as well as that of any other people, and if they should be found insufficient, more stringent provisions might be enacted provided they be made applicable to all foreigners. All that my Government asks is that the immigration of Chinese into the territory of the United States be placed on a common footing with other nations. To single out the Chinese alone for exclusion from the islands is to lower the whole nation in the eye of the [Page 206] world, particularly if there is no discriminating legislation against any other Asiatic people. I feel confident that the Government and Congress of the United States after due consideration will admit the justice of the position taken by my Government.
I beg to lay these observations before you now with the request that you will kindly bring them to the attention of His Excellency the President and the Congress of the United States, to the end that the rights of the Chinese residents of the Hawaiian Islands may not be impaired by the adoption of any legislation affecting them.