The Acting Secretary of State to the Haitian Minister.
Washington, August 29, 1905.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 11th instant, in which you state that the refusal of the consul-general of Haiti at New York to visé the American passport of Mr. Mansour Assaff is based upon the Haitian law prohibiting the admission of Syrians into the territory of the Republic.
In reply, I have to say that the text of this law quoted in your note of June 9, last, reads:
From the date of the promulgation of this law any person styled a Syrian, or so called in popular language, shall not be admitted into the territory of the Republic. Any Syrian who, with a view to evading the law, should leave the country and return with a certificate of naturalization shall likewise be excluded from the territory of the Republic.
The first sentence is somewhat ambiguous. It does not in express terms exclude persons of Syrian origin who have become naturalized in a foreign country. And the second sentence, in barring from admission Syrians who, with a view to evade the law, leave Haiti and return with certificates of foreign naturalization, indicates the intention to permit the entrance of Syrians who, without an intention to evade the law, leave Haiti, become naturalized, and return. It appears even more distinctly not to contemplate the exclusion of Syrians naturalized in foreign countries who have not resided in Haiti previous to their naturalization.[Page 541]
In view of these ambiguities, and in the absence of any express adjudications of the Haitian courts declaring that persons of Syrian origin who have, in good faith and not in fraud of the Haitian law, obtained naturalization in the United States are excluded by the terms of the law, this government does not feel that it can acquiesce in the construction placed upon the law in your note.