Mr. Hill to Mr. Merry.

No. 402.]

Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch No. 551, of the 18th ultimo, in which you request to be informed as to the nationality of Rafael Franklin Hine, 19 years of age, and a native of Costa Rica, the facts of whose case, as stated by you, are as follows:

The young man has been educated in the public and private schools of Costa Rica, has never visited the United States, and is entirely ignorant of the English language. His father was born in the United States, went to Costa Rica when 23 years old, married a native Costa Rican, and died there after five years’ residence as a practicing physician.

Mr. Hine now claims exemption from military service in Costa Rica on the ground that he is an American citizen.

You add that Mr. Hine is engaged in the dairy business in San Jose, and that you do not see how he can consistently claim that it is his intention to make hereafter his home in the United States.

Assuming that the father was an American citizen when the son was born, the latter is an American citizen, according to section 1993 of the Revised Statutes of the United States, which provides that a child born outside of the limits of the United States, whose father was at the time of the child’s birth a citizen of the United States, is himself a citizen.

Of course, “no sovereignty can extend its jurisdiction beyond its own territorial limits, so as to relieve those born under and subject to another jurisdiction from their obligations or duties thereto.” (Mr. Fish to the President, August 25, 1873, quoted in The American Passport, page 141.) Therefore, as an American citizen, the young man may be granted a passport upon making satisfactory application therefor.

How far the right to protect him may be exerted depends to a considerable extent upon the claims that Costa Rica has upon him under her law, upon which point the Department is not advised.

The question of his intention to come to this country will be of more consequence when he shall have reached the age of 21 years. Until that time he is not competent to elect expatriation from the United States, and the presumption is in favor of his conservation of the citizenship conferred upon him by his birth as the son of an American citizen.

I am, etc.,

David J. Hill,
Acting Secretary.