[Memorandum from Austro-Hungarian Embassy.]
My attention having been directed to some reports which have lately appeared in the newspapers with regard to the confiscation from Hungarian emigrants of so-called “prepaid tickets” by the royal Hungarian authorities, I have had the honor to make a verbal communication on this matter to the State Department. Referring to what I then stated, I beg now to repeat that such confiscation, so far as it has taken place in the past and is to take place in the future, is based on the Hungarian emigration lawa, and is limited to only such prepaid tickets which have been issued by unlicensed companies or agencies.
I have caused a copy of the Hungarian emigration law to be transmitted to the United States commissioner of immigration in New York, and, if I am not mistaken, the United States Department of Commerce and Labor has also been put in possession of another copy. The object of the law is to control and, if possible, to restrict emigration from Hungary, and the object of the confiscation measure, based on Chapter VI, paragraph 46 , is to stop or counteract all illicit propaganda and incentive for emigration.
It has never been the intention of the Hungarian Government to inflict unnecessary hardship on emigrants or to interfere with the freedom of travel of foreigners. Their officials have therefore been instructed to keep strictly within the letter of the law and to confiscate only such prepaid tickets which have been issued by unlicensed companies or agencies and not to confiscate tickets sent to emigrants by their relatives.
Tickets belonging to American citizens or citizens of other foreign countries are not to be confiscated at all, by whatever company or agency they might have been issued. Foreigners are also absolutely free as to the choice of the route by which they travel and are not obliged to have a passport.
I do not know whether confiscations such as referred to above have actually occurred through mistake or error in the administration of the law; but the Hungarian officials have been informed that they will be held accountable for the strict observation of their instructions, and any individual case or error will be remedied by the Hungarian Government on proper application and proof. The object of my present communication is to draw the attention of the Federal Government to [Page 52] the principles on which the Hungarian emigration law and its administration are based, and I venture to express the hope that they will be found to be in harmony with the letter and spirit of their own legislation on the subject of immigration.