Mr. Storer to Mr. Hay.
Brussels, February 21, 1899. (Received March 3.)
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your instruction, No. 227, bearing date February 4, 1899, with its inclosures.
The responsibility in the important duty of recognizing those who are entitled to the official protection of our Government while residing in other countries—so largely left by the law and departmental regulations to the discretion of individual diplomatic representatives—and my own observation of frequent attempts to impose on this discretion for the sole purpose of evading obligations perhaps justly due to governments other than our own, must justify my writing again on this subject.
An instruction from the Department, not to this legation (presumably addressed to the embassy at Paris), dated November 4, 1898, copied and widely noticed in journals in Europe generally read by Americans, proceeded to lay down a general rule of conduct for guidance in the issue of passports. That letter seemed to establish a rule that satisfactory explanation of failure to return to America within two years—as the applicant under oath had stated was his intention—and satisfactory evidence of a reasonable and bona fide intention not again to be chargeable with similar failure in the future, was what each diplomatic representative was entitled to have on an application for renewal.
With respect, I venture to submit that the precise point in the present case that induced me to ask the opinion of the Department was whether, having in view this statute, section 2172, any one made American citizen solely by the naturalization of his father, continuously living in Europe since his return thither with his family, who has founded a manufacturing association under the laws of a foreign country, in the name of which he carries on business, could for himself and his family continue to renew the protection of a United States passport? In other words, could the applicant be considered as “dwelling in the United States,” so as to come within the requirements of section 2172, or should he fall under the cases given on pages 113 and 159 of the Passport Digest, and follow these recommendations in taking out naturalization papers for himself? The remark of your instruction, that it nowhere appears the applicant was warned by my predecessor in March, 1896, that a failure to carry out his sworn intention might bar a renewal of his passport, is absolutely correct, but I submit that two years hence, when he again applies for protection from the operation of the laws of Belgium, it will nowhere appear that this warning was given him by me in 1899, and precisely the same responsibility and doubt will then be thrown on this legation then that is now sought to be settled once for all by departmental instruction.
The transcripts inclosed in your instruction now show that in April, 1893, oath was made that the permanent residence of the applicant [Page 87] was Bloomfield, N. J., while in March, 1896, he swore his permanent residence was Brooklyn, N. Y.—this without personally being in the United States between those dates. Other discrepancies in the application are frequent but not, in my judgment, important, except as showing an instance of the customary loose way in which the oaths taken by applicants for passports are regarded by them, which only actual experience in issuing passports can fully appreciate.
My sole desire in again putting this case into correspondence is to obtain such guidance as may diminish the danger of the discretion of our legations being imposed on, and save the consequence to the Department of additional labor in the future.
I have, etc.,