File No. 763.72115/3384½
The Attorney General ( Gregory) to the Secretary of State
[Received October 8.]
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 5th inst., transmitting copy of a statement issued by you on the 3d of September, in which this Government formally recognizes that a state of belligerency exists between the Czecho-Slovaks, as organized in the Czecho-Slovak National Council, and the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires; and in which this Government also formally recognizes the Czecho-Slovak National Council as a “de facto belligerent government,” etc. It is noted also that this Government has declared itself prepared to enter formally into relations with the said de facto government for the purpose of prosecuting the war against the common enemy.
I note that you bring these facts to my attention for the purpose of arranging that the Czecho-Slovaks in the United States who have not become naturalized as American citizens, although previously residents of the territory forming a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and subjects of that Empire coming within the classification of alien enemy under Revised Statutes 4067, may now receive the same consideration from this Department as are citizens of a government associated with the United States in this war. In reply to your question as to what may be done in this respect in order that the policy of the Government, as indicated by its recognition of the de facto belligerency of the Czecho-Slovak National Council, may be carried out, I respectfully call your attention to the fact that under the section of the Revised Statutes above quoted these people, as natives, denizens, subjects and citizens of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, are clearly defined as alien enemies, and I do not understand that they hold rights of citizenship under any other government. It is, therefore, not within the power of this Department to alter the status so created.
In this connection, however, I further direct your attention to the fact that the Czecho-Slovaks within the United States labor under no handicap or restrictions of any description imposed by any branch of the United States Government. The only action taken by this Government toward these people by reason of the state of war, is the action taken by the President granting me power to apprehend and intern any dangerous Austro-Hungarian alien enemy. They have not been required to register as alien enemies; unlike the Germans they are free to enter prohibited areas and restricted zones without permits. Under these circumstances, I see no occasion for any further action to be taken in respect to their treatment by this Department. [Page 215]Furthermore, I am distinctly opposed to any modification of the power of internment, which I regard as vitally essential to the national defense.