The Italian Ambassador (Ricci) to the Secretary of State
Mr. Secretary of State: It is rumored that the new legislation on immigration on which the Special Committees of the House and Senate are working, while being more or less a repetition of the actual three-per-cent law, will continue to base the national quotas on the Census of 1910.
Your Excellency will allow me to observe that now that the results of the 1920 Census are not only known, but published, the establishing of the quotas on the 1910 Census would result in an open discrimination between peoples of different nationalities, a course which would be in violation of existing treaties which provide the equality of rights and of treatment.
Your Excellency knows, of course, that Italy would be particularly affected by such a decision of the Congress as its greater flood of emigration to this Country happened between 1910 and 1914.
Furthermore, Your Excellency will allow me to state that any other system, at the arrival of the immigrants as to the assignment of the respective quotas, other than their passport, would occasion the repetition of the difficulties and hardships we had the honor to indicate to Your Excellency when Italian citizens of Rhodes were assigned to the exhausted quota of Other Asia.
That is why I take the liberty of suggesting that the passport be the only element for determining the nationality of the alien and his assignment to a quota, that is, the quota of the nation which has granted the passport.
Such a system, while harmful to no one, is the simplest of all and the only one which would avoid the difficulties and confusion and, furthermore, would have, it seems to me, a legal and sound, and politically indisputable basis.
My suggestion, Excellency, aims to avoid the great [apparent omission] which is being met by some aliens, who, being citizens of a nation, though born within the confines of another, are able to [Page 580] secure passports only from the nation which has given them citizenship, and are, therefore, in the impossibility of knowing in advance, while leaving the country of adoption, if the quota of the nation of their birth has been exhausted, especially when the latter is geographically remote.
Finally the nationality based on the passport will permit a nation to take the responsibility of adhering strictly to its quota and to protect its own citizens while observing the American Law.
Your Excellency will pardon my seeming interference in a legislative matter when considering that the friendly suggestions offered above aim only to avoid in time the complications that are likely to arise during the course of future immigration, complications that, I know, all of us are willing to eliminate. And I trust that, in such a spirit, Your Excellency will take what precedes into careful and favorable consideration.
I avail [etc.]