The American Delegation to the Secretary of State

Sir: The undersigned appointed by the President as Delegates of the United States of America to the Second International Conference on Emigration and Immigration held at Habana from March 31 to April 17, 1928, inclusive, have the honor to submit the following report:

At the closing session of the First International Conference on Emigration and Immigration, held in Rome in May, 1924, a resolution was adopted calling for a Second International Conference on Emigration and Immigration, to be held in an immigration country and charging the Committee of Control of the Rome Conference with the work of preparation for such a conference, to which it should present a general report on the effect given by different governments to the resolutions voted by the Conference of Rome. The Committee of Control, which consisted of the President and the eight Vice Presidents of the Rome Conference, was to sit at Rome under the Presidency of Signor De Michelis, President of the Rome Conference, and Italian Commissioner General of Emigration.

On July 9, 1927, the Committee of Control adopted the following resolution regarding the holding of the Second International Conference on Emigration and Immigration:

“The Committee entrusted with the preliminary work of the IInd international emigration and immigration Conference, in accordance with the resolution of the Rome Conference,

“Whereas its resolution of 10th of December appointed the city of Havana to be the see for the IInd Conference,

“Having considered the message of the Cuban Government suggesting that the Conference convene during the month of March 1928,

“Having read the list of questions proposed by the several Governments, to be included in the agenda of the Havana Conference:

  • “1) Resolves to fix the agenda for the IInd international emigration and immigration Conference as it appears in annex A.
  • “2) Entrusts its President to request the Cuban Government to kindly send invitations to the Governments interested in the IInd international emigration and immigration Conference and to fix the opening date of the same.
  • “3) Also entrusts its President with the mission to kindly ask the Cuban Government to extend the courtesy of an invitation to the great international Organizations so as to enable them to be represented in the Conference of Havana, in a consultive character.”

On July 18, 1927, the Cuban Embassy in Washington addressed a note to the Department,68 inviting this Government to participate in the Second International Conference on Emigration and Immigration, which was to open in Habana, March 31, 1928, and shortly afterward it supplied the Department with the agenda of the Conference (see annex).69

Several conferences were held between the appropriate officers of the Department of State, the Department of Labor and the United States Public Health Service, at which the questions of policy involved in American participation in such a conference were thoroughly discussed and weighed. It was the feeling of the Conference that participation was advisable, and on January 12, 1928, the Secretary of State addressed a letter to the President recommending American participation in the following terms:

“The Cuban Government, through its Embassy in Washington, extended an invitation on July 18, 1927, to this Government to participate in the Second International Emigration and Immigration Conference, which will be held at Habana commencing March 31, 1928. On August 20, 1927, the Secretary of State sent a note to the Cuban Embassy68 requesting that the thanks of the United States Government for the invitation be conveyed to the Cuban Government and that the Cuban Government be informed that this Government would be glad to consider the invitation when it had had an opportunity to examine the agenda of the conference.

“After copies of the agenda had been received, communications were addressed to the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor on December 17, 1927,68 apprising them of the receipt of the invitation under discussion and transmitting copies of the agenda with the suggestion that a conference be held between representatives of the Department of State, the Department of Labor, and the United States Public Health Service for the purpose of discussing the question of participation in the conference to be held in Habana.

“On December 29 representatives of the three Departments met at the State Department and after due deliberation reached the conclusion that it would be advisable for the United States to send a delegation to the Habana conference because of the following considerations: First, the United States appears to be in some degree committed to such participation not only by reason of the fact that it was formally represented in the previous conference, on the same [Page 510] subject held in Rome in 1924, but more especially in view of the fact that the chairman of the American delegation at that conference cast his vote in favor of the convening of a second conference, i. e., that to be held at Habana in March. Second, the conference is to be held in a Latin American country, and will be largely attended by delegates from the Latin American nations whose immigration problems are similar to those of this country, as was evidenced by their attitude at the recent meeting of the Interparliamentary Commercial Conference held at Rio de Janeiro in September of last year.

“While the opinion of the conferees that the United States should accept the invitation was based chiefly on the considerations set forth in the foregoing paragraph, they did not lose sight of the advantage to this country in having the traditional position of the United States, that immigration is strictly a domestic matter, reaffirmed at this conference. Should delegates be appointed, they will accordingly be instructed to make clear this Government’s position on immigration and to take no action inconsistent with the attitude and prerogatives of the Congress of the United States in this connection.

“This matter has been submitted to the Director of the Bureau of the Budget who advises that it is not in conflict with the President’s financial program.

“I believe, therefore, that attendance at this conference will be in the public interest, and have the honor to recommend that, as an act of international courtesy and as a means of reaffirming the historic policy of this country on immigration and of cooperating with American countries with similar immigration problems, the Congress be requested to appropriate funds to cover the expense of sending a delegation to the Second International Emigration and Immigration Conference. It is not believed an amount in excess of $5,000 will be necessary for this purpose.

“It is my further recommendation that the delegation from the United States consist of a representative of the Department of Labor, a representative of the United States Public Health Service, a representative of this Department, and a consular officer who has had extensive experience in immigration matters.”

On January 13 the President sent the Secretary of State’s letter to Congress with a message requesting legislation appropriating $5,000 for the expenses of an American delegation to the Habana Conference. An appropriate resolution was subsequently introduced in the House of Representatives and was favorably reported on by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. However, when it appeared that the volume of business for Congress was so great as to make it unlikely that definite action could be taken on the resolution before the opening of the Conference on March 31, 1928, the Secretary of State, deeming that participation in the Habana Conference was sufficiently important from the viewpoint of American foreign policy to justify making other provision for the expenses of the participation in the event that Congress should fail to make the appropriation which had been requested on March 20, informed the Cuban Embassy of this Government’s [Page 511] acceptance of its invitation of July 18, 1927, in the following terms:

“I have the honor to refer to your note of July 18, 1927, inviting this Government to participate in the Second International Conference on Emigration and Immigration which will open in Habana on March 31.

“I take pleasure in informing you that the United States will be glad to send delegates although you will readily understand that the immigration policy of this country as established by Acts of the Congress will obviously impose certain restrictions upon the American delegates. However, with due regard to such limitations this Government will be happy to attend the Habana Conference and to participate so far as practicable in a discussion of the technical matters presented.

“The names of the American delegates will be communicated to you in the course of the next few days. In the meantime I trust that you will notify your Government of this Government’s acceptance of its courteous invitation.”

On March 22, the Secretary of State addressed a letter to the President71 recommending the appointment of delegates and submitting a draft instruction for the President’s approval.72 These instructions emphasized the importance of upholding the American view that control of immigration is purely a domestic question and that the authority of Congress in immigration matters is exclusive. The instructions further stated that the delegates attending the Conference at Habana would be expected to reaffirm the policy of this Government that immigration is a matter of purely domestic concern in the manner in which it was stated at the Sixth Pan American Conference in Habana; to take a helpful and appropriate part in the discussions of various technical questions before the Conference with a view to informing the Conference of the forms in which these questions have presented themselves to the United States, the methods of this Government in dealing with them, the aims and policies of the Government regarding them, and the legislative and administrative machinery which it has established to carry them out; to observe the trend of the Conference and to take no action committing this Government and to refrain from voting on any of the resolutions presented for approval without the specific authorization of this Department.

On March 24 the President’s approval having been signified, the American delegates to the Second International Conference on Emigration and Immigration were announced as follows, and appropriate travel instructions were issued:

  • The Honorable W. W. Husband, Assistant Secretary of Labor, Chairman;
  • Mr. Norval P. Nichols, Commissioner of Immigration at Porto Rico;
  • Surgeon John W. Kerr, United States Public Health Service;
  • Surgeon John D. Long, United States Public Health Service;
  • Mr. Leo J. Keena, American Consul General at Habana;
  • Mr. Henry Carter, Department of State.

On March 30 the American delegates assembled in Habana and an office was established in the Sevilla-Biltmore Hotel with a staff consisting of two stenographers, one Spanish-English interpreter and one French-English interpreter. Office furniture and typewriters were rented in Habana and stationery and office supplies were provided by the American Embassy. Mr. Carter was appointed Secretary of the Delegation and Mr. Shields, Special Disbursing Officer in the Embassy, acted as Disbursing Officer, and in addition, took charge of the code work of the Delegation.

On the afternoon of March 30 an informal meeting of the chief delegates of the participating nations was held at the University of Habana where the Conference was to sit, at which a slate of officers of the Conference and of the Chairmen and Vice Chairmen of the Commissions of the Conference was drawn up for presentation to the opening session of the Conference. Mr. Husband was named for one of the ten Vice Presidencies, and the position of Chairman of the Third Section (that dealing with measures designed to adapt emigration to the labor necessities of immigration countries and with methods of international cooperation between the emigration and immigration services) was offered to him. Mr. Husband accepted the post of Vice President, thus becoming a member of the Presidential Committee of Control which functioned as a steering committee for the Conference (see the standing orders of the Conference,73 annex) but felt that the nature of his instructions made it inappropriate for him to act as Chairman of the Third Commission and accordingly declined, suggesting that Señor Aguero of the Cuban Delegation be named in his place.

The Conference proper opened at the University of Habana on the morning of March 31 when the inaugural plenary session was held. President Machado of Cuba presided at the opening and a speech of welcome was made by Dr. Rafael Martinez Ortiz, Cuban Secretary of State, to which a reply was made by Señor Gutierrez de Aguera, chief delegate of Spain and Spanish Ambassador to Cuba, following which the meeting adjourned until afternoon.

The first plenary session was held on the afternoon of March 31 under the temporary presidency of Dr. Carlos Armenteros of the Cuban Delegation. A letter from Signor de Michelis of the Rome Committee was read and a speech was made regarding the purposes [Page 513] and labors of that Committee by Señor Brebbia of Argentina. The Conference then proceeded to the election of officers and Dr. Sanchez de Fuentes of Cuba was nominated for President of the Conference by Signor Vivaldi of Italy, seconded by Mr. Aoki of Japan, and elected by acclamation, following which he took the chair. After deciding that both the plenary sessions and the committee meetings should be opened to the public, the Conference then elected President Machado as honorary President of the Conference upon the motion of Mr. Rais of France, seconded by Señor Perez Alfonseca of Santo Domingo.

The slate of the other officers of the Conference and its recommendations, as drawn up in the informal meeting of March 30, was then approved, and Signor Vivaldi of Italy was elected Chairman of the Drafting Committee. The organization of the Conference as finally constituted was as follows:

  • President:
    • Dr. Fernando Sánchez de Fuentes (Cuba).
  • Vice Presidents:
    • Mr. Arata Aoki (Japan).
    • Mr. Jan Gawronski (Poland).
    • Mr. Francisco Bernis (Spain).
    • Mr. Guglielmo de Vivaldi (Italy).
    • Mr. Luis Rais (France).
    • Mr. W. W. Husband (United States).
    • Mr. Amadeo E. Grandi (Argentina).
    • Mr. Pedro Erasmo Callorda (Uruguay).
    • Mr. Carlos Trejo y Lerdo de Tejada (Mexico).
    • (A vice presidency was reserved for Portugal, but remained vacant as Portugal had no representative present at the Conference).

Chairmen and Vice Chairmen of the Commissions:

First Commission

  • President:
    • Doctor Manuel Bianchi (Chile).
  • Vice Presidents:
    • Mr. Liang Chi-Cho (China).
    • Doctor Henry S. Brandt (Netherlands).

Second Commission

  • President:
    • Mr. Antonio Sum (Czechoslovakia).
  • Vice Presidents:
    • Mr. Ramsés Chaffey (Egypt).
    • Mr. Furcy Pichardo (Dominican Republic).

Third Commission

  • President:
    • Doctor Arístides de Agüero (Cuba).
  • Vice Presidents:
    • Doctor Oscar Barrenechea (Peru).
    • Doctor Fernando Dennis (Haiti).
[Page 514]

Fourth Commission

  • President:
    • Mr. Marc Peter (Switzerland).
  • Vice Presidents:
    • Mr. Heinrich Montel (Austria).
    • Mr. Ricardo A. Morales (Panama).

Fifth Commission

  • President:
    • Prince Sturdza (Rumania).
  • Vice Presidents:
    • Mr. Reider Hildal (Norway).
    • Mr. Víctor Zevallos (Ecuador).

Following discussion of minor points of organization and procedure, the plenary session adjourned, after arranging for the hours of meeting of the various Commissions, and after charging the Presidential Committee with the responsibility of settling upon a closing date for the Conference (the Committee subsequently announced April 17th as the closing date).

The following two weeks were devoted exclusively to commission meetings and it was not until April 16 that the Conference again met in plenary session. The nature of the work of the committees is indicated by the subjects of discussion listed in the agenda and by the resolutions adopted by the Conference at the final plenary sessions74 (see annex). The American delegates were assigned to the five commissions as follows:

First Commission

  • Transport and protection of the emigrants.
  • Hygiene and sanitary services.
    Doctor Kerr and Doctor Long.

Second Commission

  • Assistance to the emigrated—Cooperation, insurance, systems of mutual insurance.
    Mr. Nichols and Doctor Long.

Third Commission

  • Adoption of measures in order to adapt emigration to the labor necessities of immigration countries. International cooperation between the emigration and immigration services.
    Mr. Husband and Mr. Keena.

Fourth Commission

  • General principles of immigration treaties.
  • Miscellaneous matters.
    Mr. Keena and Mr. Carter.
[Page 515]

Fifth Commission

  • Examination of the resolutions of the Rome Conference and sequence to be given them.
    Mr. Carter and Mr. Nichols.

In view of the nature of their instructions, the American delegates took a passive part in the debates of the Conference, confining themselves to declarations of American policy and discussion of technical methods employed by the United States, and abstained from voting, both in the commission meetings and in the plenary sessions. However, on certain occasions they felt called upon to express their views and the following brief summary of those occasions may be noted:

1. In the first meeting of the Fifth Commission on April 3 the Chairman, Prince Sturdza of Rumania, outlined the work of the Commission as follows:

(A) To prepare and report upon the effect given by the different Governments to the resolutions adopted at the Rome Conference; (B) to prepare a report upon the possibility of giving further effect to the resolutions of the Rome Conference and (C) to consider how the work of the Rome Conference might be carried on after the Habana Conference, by further international conferences or otherwise. The delegate of the Dominican Republic was then appointed rapporteur of the Commission and the Chairman asked that the various delegations submit appropriate reports for use in the preparation of the two reports called for, and announced that consideration of the third part of the program would be deferred to the final sessions of the Commission. (This third topic was subsequently handled almost entirely in the Fourth Commission).

Following the adjournment of the meeting, Mr. Carter addressed to the rapporteur of the Fifth Commission the following letter, stating that the United States would not submit any report upon the effect given by the different Governments to the resolutions voted on by the Rome Conference:

“My Government desires me to state that it does not feel it can appropriately submit to the Conference a formal report of the sort contemplated in the resolution adopted at the Rome Conference with regard to the effect given by the different governments to the resolutions voted by that Conference.

“As you are aware, the fundamental position of the United States is that control of immigration is a matter of purely domestic concern, representing the exercise of a sovereign right, and that, as far as the United States of America is concerned, the authority of its Congress in immigration matters is exclusive.

“While it is assumed that the Rome resolution did not contemplate any action inconsistent with that position, nevertheless, to avoid all possibility of a misunderstanding on the subject my Government will refrain from submitting a report to this section of the Conference [Page 516] regarding the effect given the resolutions voted on by the Conference of Rome.

“I would, however, observe that the American delegates in the other sections of the Conference will be glad to furnish information regarding the present status of legislative and administrative measures in force in the United States dealing with the problems of immigration, and to cooperate in the labors of the Conference within the limits and restrictions obviously imposed upon their action by the clearly established policy and position of my Government as regards immigration matters.

“I am confident that you will appreciate the attitude of my Government in this matter, and I request that this letter be made a part of the report which you intend to submit to the Fifth Section of the Conference.”

At the same time he addressed the following letter to the Chairman of the Fifth Commission, enclosing a copy of his letter to the rapporteur, and stating that the United States would make no report regarding the possibility of giving further effect to the resolutions voted at the Rome Conference:

“I have the honor to transmit herewith copy of a letter which I have addressed to the Rapporteur of the 5th Section of the Conference, in which I state that my Government does not feel that it can appropriately submit to the Conference a formal report of the sort contemplated in the resolutions adopted at the Rome Conference with regard to the effect given by the different governments to the resolutions voted by that Conference.

“The Considerations advanced in that letter apply equally to the report which you requested be made you as to the possibility of giving further effect to the resolutions adopted at the Rome Conference.

“I trust that you will appreciate the position of my Government in refraining from making to you the desired report, and I would request that you cause this letter to be incorporated in the report which you propose to submit to the 5th Section of the Conference.”

These letters were brought to the attention of the Fifth Commission at its next meeting on April 7 by its Chairman, Prince Sturdza, who commented briefly on them and they were also communicated to the Press for publication on the same day.

2. Just before the adjournment of the second and final meeting of the First Commission on April 9, Dr. Long made the following statement regarding the position of the American Delegation:

“The Delegate of the United States declares that he wishes to make it of record that the Delegation of the United States has been highly pleased to attend the debates of the Committee. He wishes it to be made of record also that the Delegation of the United States did not vote either for or against any of the motions nor took any part in the discussions that have taken place, all because the Government of the United States understands that immigration questions come within the province of the Congress of the United States and that if any other line of conduct had been taken, a [Page 517] limit might have been put upon that exclusive authority held by the Congress of the United States in the matter.”

This statement was followed by one from the Argentina Delegate, Señor Brebbia, who said:

“I might have saved the Committee the trouble of hearing me again ask for the floor if after hearing the Delegate of the United States I did not fear that silence of the Argentine Delegation might be construed to mean something that is in opposition to the fundamental points set forth by my North American colleagues. It is hardly necessary to say that all of us who are working together here do not propose to compromise in any way the sovereignty of the countries we represent, their laws or their regulations. This Conference is not a gathering of diplomats or plenipotentiaries empowered to draw up conventions or amend them. It is simply a meeting of technicists, which amounts to saying, men of business, who are thoroughly familiar with immigration problems and who have met in assembly to contribute, each one within his sphere, the lessons from his experience so as to harmonize as far as possible the conflicting interests of the emigrating and immigrating countries, all inspired with the wish of being useful. It is necessary that this be made clear once for all, so that there be no mistaken interpretation put upon the more or less formal agreement that may be intended by the vote of any one Delegation one way or the other when it was required to pass upon a topic under consideration.”

3. During the discussions of the Second Session of the Second Commission on April 9 the following proposal was introduced by the Cuban Delegate:

“The Conference, in view of the undoubted advantages to be gained by the immigrant by the protection of his patrimony and from the assistance of institutions for the purpose of such protection, expresses the desire that measures be taken to create adequate institutions to this end.”

As this proposal pointed to the establishment of cooperative banks in immigration countries, Dr. Long, when the views of the United States were asked by the Chairman, stated that the American Delegation would prefer not to enter upon a discussion of this subject.

4. At the third meeting of the Second Commission on April 11, Dr. Long, in discussing measures of medical assistance for immigrants, said:

“In so far as the United States is concerned, I have to say that before entering the country, if the immigrant contracts a disease on board, he is given attention at the expense of the steamship companies in one of the many well equipped establishments that are maintained in the principal ports such as Boston, New York, San Francisco and others. When the immigrant is already in the country he may receive medical attention in any hospital, as any citizen would, regardless as to whether he is a native or a foreigner. But when the case is one of a chronic disease, and the patient has become a public charge, then it is ascertained whether he is a citizen or a foreigner, but in the latter [Page 518] case, he is given the same care as if he were a citizen, and if he has not resided in the country the time provided by our law, then he is sent back to the country whence he came.”

A little later Dr. Long reminded the Commission that at the Fifth Pan American Conference, held at Santiago de Chile in 1923,75 a resolution was passsed, in which there was to be found a declaration of principles recommending to the several countries that they provide medical assistance for the indigent poor.

5. At the fifth meeting of the Fourth Commission during a roll call upon a Cuban declaration of principles of migration, the United States formally abstained from voting. (The Cuban declaration will be described in another portion of this report).

6. At the third plenary session on April 17 following a resolution presented to the Conference by the Fourth Commission regarding the general principles of codification of material relating to migration, Dr. Long, who announced the votes of the American Delegation throughout the plenary sessions, found it necessary to say:

“When the name of the United States was called recently somebody answered yes by mistake. I wish to say that the United States does not vote.”

7. At the fourth plenary session of the Conference held on April 17, the following resolution regarding the convening of a third conference was presented by the Fifth Commission:

  • “1.) That a Third International Conference on Emigration and Immigration meet at Madrid on a date to be fixed after the interested nations (note: the phrase ‘interested nations’ as used in this document, is understood by the Delegation to refer to those nations represented at the Habana Conference) have been consulted on the subject by the Committee referred to in the following paragraph and after a majority of them have expressed their assent.
  • “2.) That the Directing Committee of the Habana Conference (i. e., the President and Vice Presidents of the Conference and the Chairmen and Vice Chairmen of the Commissions of the Conference) be entrusted, under the name of the Committee of Organization, with the work preliminary to the Madrid Conference, to which the Committee will submit the general report regarding steps taken by the different governments to give effect to the resolutions adopted by the Conference of Habana.
  • “3.) That said Committee may, subject to the assent of the interested Governments, invite the collaboration of those members of the former Committee of Rome whose assistance is deemed advantageous.
  • “4.) That said Committee may, subject to the assent of the interested Governments, transfer its seat and propose the organization of an auxiliary secretariat if it deems such a course advisable.
  • “5.) That the said Committee be authorized to collect the archives of the two International Conferences on Emigration and Immigration in order that it may, within the scope of its authority, facilitate the [Page 519] putting into effect of the resolutions adopted by those Conferences, and may undertake the publication of documents and studies whose distribution may be deemed desirable.”

The resolution was voted upon paragraph by paragraph and upon the motion of Prince Sturdza, Chairman of the Fifth Commission, the vote on the first two paragraphs was made by acclamation. The American Delegation had been prepared to abstain from voting on a roll call, and to make this abstention a matter of official record as it had done in the case of all previous votes taken in the plenary sessions of the Conference. However, the Delegation considered that under the recognized rules of procedure in international gatherings, such a vote by acclamation could not be regarded as in any way binding upon this Government. It further felt that its position had already been made so clear in the meetings of the Conference and its Commissions that a further statement at this juncture would be distinctly inopportune and might weaken the effect of the statements it had already made. The Delegation, therefore, refrained from further defining its abstention from this vote by acclamation. Nevertheless, to avoid any possibility of a misunderstanding as to the effect of this vote upon the Government of the United States, the Delegation, at the conclusion of the meeting, explained verbally to officials of the Cuban Department of State that the United States could not consider the procedure of adopting by acclamation the resolution regarding the holding of a Third International Conference on Emigration and Immigration as in any way binding on the United States, and that the American Delegation wished to be understood as having abstained from voting on the resolution. The Cuban officials confirmed the Delegation’s understanding of the non-binding effect of the vote by acclamation under reference and further noted the Delegation’s statement that it desired that it be considered as having abstained from voting on this matter.

8. At the closing session of the Conference on April 17, Dr. Long addressed the Conference in Spanish to express the American Delegation’s pleasure at having taken part in the labors of the Conference and its thanks to the Cuban Government for its hospitality:

“I have asked for the floor in the name of the Delegation of the United States of America to express a sentiment we have at this moment, and in evidence of our sincerity I venture to utter it in Spanish, which is a rather difficult thing to do.

“In the first place, I wish to say how much we appreciate our having had the privilege of attending so important and informative an event as this Conference has proved to be. To be present at the debates, to listen to the opinions of the several Delegates and the findings of the Committees has proved an education on the subject of world migration.

“In addition to this I wish to express our most sincere thanks to the Republic of Cuba and the people of Habana for the very affectionate [Page 520] hospitality that has been extended to us during our stay here. Whenever we come to Habana we are met with the most affectionate hospitality.

“Finally, I wish to express our deep admiration for the ability and skill with which our President, His Excellency, Doctor Fernando Sánchez y Fuentes, has conducted our deliberations, the tact with which he has managed debates, and the manner in which he has recognized the rights and wishes of all the Delegates. I will close by wishing him all kinds of happiness and prosperity in life.”

While the avowed purpose of the Conference was to discuss technical and non-political questions regarding emigration and immigration in order to establish a basis for international cooperation in such matters, the principal question before the Conference was that of the manner and means whereby international consideration of the problems of emigration and immigration could best be conducted. As has been stated, the preparatory work of the Habana Conference was carried on by the Committee of Control of the Rome Conference of 1924, following the adoption of the 1924 resolution in favor of a second conference. With the completion of the organization of the Habana Conference, the responsibility for forwarding the proposals of the Rome Committee passed to the Presidential Committee of the Habana Conference, which acted as a steering committee during the sessions of the second Conference.

The main question for the Conference to decide was that of the method to be adopted for carrying on the work of the First and Second Conferences and the creation of a suitable body for that purpose. This, in turn, developed the question of:

Codification of information relating to migration problems;
Recognition of a set of general principles of migration;
The holding of a third Conference and
The creation of a body to prepare the agenda of a third Conference.

The matter of codification was settled with comparative ease by the adoption of the first resolution of the Fourth Commission:

  • “1) That the countries of emigration and of immigration proceed as soon as possible, if they have not already done it, to make a compilation of their legislation concerning emigration, transmigration and immigration and also of their legislation regarding agricultural and industrial labor, with a view to making progress with the codification of questions on which an international agreement has been concluded.
  • “2) That the committee to be appointed for the preparation of a third International Conference on Emigration and Immigration be entrusted with all the preparatory work for the codification of matters relating to migration on which an agreement has been concluded among the countries concerned.
  • “3) That this Committee invite the League of Nations, the International Labour Office and the International Institute of Agriculture [Page 521] to continue the work undertaken by them referring directly or indirectly to migration and which they have carried out hitherto so effectively.”

However, the other questions, which were treated as a body by the Fourth Commission, revealed marked divisions of opinion in the Conference, and it is thought that a brief sketch of the various stages of the discussions on these three questions may be of interest as illustrative of the general trend of the Conference.

At the outset of the Conference the Delegation learned that Dr. Harry H. Laughlin of New York, a well known American authority on eugenics, was attending as a representative of the Pan American Office of Eugenics and Homiculture, and that he hoped to secure the support of the Pan American nations for a declaration regarding the principles of migration. In brief, his program consisted in an extensive statement of the biological and eugenic phenomena involved in migration problems; it recognized control of both emigration and immigration to be an exclusive and unalienable function of sovereignty and, therefore, to be regulated by each sovereign nation and migration entity in respect to itself; and it recommended that the current series of conferences on the subject be discontinued and that the International Labor Office at Geneva be asked to continue its work and studies on migration. Dr. Laughlin informally approached the Delegation with a view to securing its endorsement of his program but was informed that the Delegation could not support any declaration of general principles. Following this overture, the Delegation decided that its efforts should be directed against the possible adoption by the Conference of this or similar proposals and accordingly asked and obtained authority from the Department to object to the introduction of Dr. Laughlin’s proposal on the ground that it dealt with matters beyond the scope of the Conference, and to make the following statement should developments in the Conference indicate that such a course would be desirable:

“In view of the vital questions of sovereignty involved in discussions of the international aspects of emigration and immigration, it is obvious that the only useful purpose to be served by international conference such as this lies in facilitating the exchange of information. It is the belief of my Government that this purpose can be adequately and effectively served by direct correspondence between governments and between organizations interested in these matters. My Government therefore suggests that the Committee of the Rome Conference be dissolved and that the present Conference be permitted to dissolve without providing for a continuation of its labors other than through the channels I have indicated. In making this suggestion I wish to express my Government’s appreciation of the manner in which the Committee of the Rome Conference has carried out its duties, the personal satisfaction I have experienced in my association with the labors of this Conference and my most hearty appreciation of the courtesy and hospitality accorded us by the Cuban Government.”

[Page 522]

However, developments were such that the Delegation found it unnecessary to make use of this authorization.

Nevertheless, it became evident that views similar to those of Dr. Laughlin were held by certain of the delegates to the Conference when, at the third meeting of the Fourth Commission on April 11, the Cuban Delegation introduced a resolution rehearsing a set of general principles of migration closely analogous to those set forth in Dr. Laughlin’s informal proposal and recommending that the task of carrying on the work of the First and Second Conferences on Emigration and Immigration be entrusted to the members of the Committee of Control of the Rome Conference which should sit at Geneva under the title of the International Office on Emigration and Immigration (see annex). At the same meeting the Mexican Delegation introduced as an alternative proposal the same resolution on the general principles of migration which it had advanced at the Sixth Pan American Conference and which contained the following clause:

“No one of the American States may place obstacles in the way of migration and immigration of the other American States nor limit it to a determined number of citizens of another American State.” (For full text see annex)

A lively discussion then took place from which it appeared that the Cuban proposal would require considerable modification before it could hope to obtain favorable consideration by the Conference and the meeting accordingly adjourned after referring the Mexican proposal to a subcommittee for examination.

At the Fifth Session of the Fourth Commission on April 13 the Cuban proposal was presented once more, this time divided into two distinct proposals, (1) a somewhat modified general declaration of principles and (2) a resolution providing for the continuation of the work of the Conferences on Emigration and Immigration by the Rome Committee under the title of the International Office on Emigration and Immigration which would sit at Geneva. The Spanish Delegate then arose and presented a counterproposal to take the place of the Cuban resolution regarding the continuation of the work of the Conference, in substance as follows:

  • “1. That there is no occasion for the establishment of new international bodies, for it (i. e., the Conference) trusts that those which are now dealing with these questions will carry on their work with the same skill and efficiency they have displayed so far.
  • “2. That the wish be expressed to the respective governments to the end that, pending the holding of a new Conference and in the period intervening between its sessions, the Directing Committee of the Havana Conference take over the same functions which were discharged by the Directing Committee of Rome, empowering the said Directing Committee to the end that, in agreement with the respective [Page 523] governments, it may change its seat, should it so deem necessary, and propose the organization of an auxiliary Secretariat”. (For full text see annex)

A heated debate ensued revolving about the question whether this new proposal could be discussed before the Commission had acted upon the Cuban resolution. However, the Commission, in spite of Cuban protestations that the Cuban Government could not assume the responsibility entailed in the Spanish resolution, finally adopted the Spanish proposal, paragraph 1 by a recorded vote of twenty-four ayes to three noes and paragraph 2 by twenty-one ayes to no noes with ten abstentions. The discussion then turned to the Cuban declaration of principle which the Rumanian Delegate proposed be referred to the new Committee for consideration at the Third Conference. The vote upon this proposal resulted in nine ayes and two noes with eighteen abstentions. As noted above, the American Delegation formally abstained from voting on these roll calls. As the meeting concluded, the Cuban Delegation once more protested the inability of the Cuban Government to assume the responsibilities involved in the adoption by the Conference of the Spanish resolution and the meeting adjourned leaving discussion of the Mexican proposal as to a declaration of principles to the following day.

At the Sixth Session of the Fourth Commission, held the morning of April 14, the subcommittee in charge of the Mexican proposal reported that the Mexican Delegation had eliminated the clause in its proposal regarding Pan American migration (see above) but that the subcommittee had been unable to agree whether the Conference should do more than note the Mexican proposal on the official record.

No further meetings of the Fourth Commission took place and accordingly the Cuban and Mexican proposals as to declarations of principles were next discussed at the third plenary session of the Conference on April 17. After a heated discussion the Mexican Delegate succeeded in having the Conference take official note of the resolutions on emigration and immigration adopted by the Sixth Pan American Conference, and in having his declaration of principles referred to the Third International Conference on Emigration and Immigration by a vote of seventeen ayes and no noes with fifteen abstentions. (It was in course of this vote that Dr. Long made the declaration noted above). At this juncture the Cuban Delegation withdrew its own declaration of principles which was to have been referred to the consideration of the Third Conference and the session adjourned, having only the question of the resolution as to the holding of a Third Conference to be passed upon by the Conference.

This was speedily accomplished at the final plenary session of April 17 by the adoption of a resolution based upon the Spanish proposal. (The text of that resolution is given in an earlier portion of this [Page 524] report) The attitude of the American Delegation regarding the vote of acclamation in favor of this proposition has been described elsewhere in this report.

The business of the Conference being then concluded, the closing session took place in the afternoon on April 17 with Dr. Rafael Martinez Ortiz, Cuban Secretary of State, presiding, and appropriate addresses were delivered by Dr. Sánchez de Fuentes, President of the Conference, Dr. Long of the American Delegation (see above), Signor Vivaldi of Italy, Señor Vicente Palmaroli of Spain, Señor Pérez Alfonseca of Santo Domingo, Señor Grandi of Argentina, Mr. Aoki of Japan, Mr. Gawronski of Poland, and finally by Dr. Ortiz, who, in the name of the President of Cuba, declared the Conference at an end.

The attitude of the American Delegation, throughout the debates described above, was, in view of its instructions, a passive one. Of the two proposals as to the method of carrying on work of the Conferences, the American Delegation considered the Spanish resolution placing the task in the hands of the Presidential Committee of the Habana Conference much more desirable than the Cuban resolution perpetuating the Rome Committee under the name of the International Office on Emigration and Immigration at Geneva, and it went to the extent of asking authorization from the Department to support the Spanish resolution openly in the commission meetings and the plenary sessions, should developments appear to justify an active intervention in the proceedings on the part of the United States. However, the Department was of the opinion that any departure from the attitude previously taken by the Delegation would be undesirable and accordingly withheld the authorization which the Delegation had requested. However, by the time that the Department’s views had been signified to the Delegation, any necessity which might have existed for positive action on the part of the American Delegation had been obviated by the overwhelming support given the Spanish proposal, notably by the Pan American nations, and accordingly the Department’s decision to deny this authorization was in no sense a source of embarrassment to the Delegation.

As will appear from the foregoing, there will not be a Third International Conference on Emigration and Immigration until a majority of the interested nations (i. e., those represented at Habana) express their desire for such a Conference. In the meantime the task of preparing the agenda of a third Conference is left in the hands of the Presidential Committee of the Habana Conference, of which the United States is technically a member through the election of Mr. Husband as one of the ten Vice Presidents of the Habana Conference. The only question left for this Government to determine is whether it shall continue to hold its right to a place on this Committee. In some [Page 525] respects it might, on the surface, be more consistent with the attitude of the United States toward the consideration by international gatherings of problems of immigration, which it regards as a purely domestic question in which the authority of Congress is exclusive, for this Government formally to withdraw from the Habana Committee. However, on the general question of American policy as to immigration, the statements and actions of the American Delegation have left no room for misapprehensions on the part of other Governments and it is not perceived that a gesture such as a formal withdrawal from the Habana Committee is needed to emphasize this point. On the other hand, both for the purpose of observation and more particularly for the purpose of cooperating with the Pan American nations, whose interest in immigration matters is closely analogous to that of this Government, the retention of the technical right to this place would appear desirable. It may further be observed that withdrawal of the United States from the Committee would destroy the present majority by which control of the Committee lies in the hands of the Pan American nations and would enable the countries of emigration to obtain that control. The question does not call for urgent decision as it is most unlikely that this Government will be asked to function in its capacity as a member of the Habana Committee or to assume any responsibilities in connection therewith for an appreciable length of time. It is, therefore, the recommendation of the Delegation that the decision on this question be deferred until such time as the United States may be asked to take active part in the work of the Committee when, it is believed, the question can be adequately decided in the light of the considerations presenting themselves at that time.

This report would be incomplete without a reference to the cordial reception and the many courtesies extended by the Cuban Government and its officials to the delegates to the Conference. These included a reception given by the President of Cuba in the Presidential Palace, dinners given by the Secretary of State, by the Mayor of Habana, and by the President of the Conference, and official excursions to Mariel to visit sugar plantations and mills, to Triscornia to visit the new Cuban Immigrant Receiving Station established there, and visits to many Cuban manufacturing plants in and near Habana. The relations of the American delegates with their Cuban hosts and with their colleagues were pleasant and cordial to a degree. The American delegates also received cards from the Habana Country Club, the Habana Yacht Club and the American Club of Habana, and were the recipients of many other courtesies, both official and unofficial.

In closing, the Delegation would wish to express its appreciation of the helpful assistance and cooperation given it by the American Ambassador to Cuba and his staff. In particular, thanks, both official and [Page 526] personal, are due Mr. Williamson and Mr. Shields, the Disbursing Officer at Habana, for the extremely efficient arrangements made for the activities and work of the Delegation. The clerical force is to be commended for its spirit and its efficiency and the Delegation feels that its success—for it believes its mission to have been a success—was in large measure due to the assistance and support rendered it by its staff, by the American Embassy in Habana and by the cooperation it received from Washington.

Respectfully submitted,

For the Delegation,
W. W. Husband
, Chairman
Henry Carter
, Secretary
  1. Not printed.
  2. The annexes to this report are not printed.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Not printed.
  6. For instructions as approved, see p. 505.
  7. See art. 8 under “Reglamento de la Segunda Conferencia”, Diario Oflcial, first vol., p. 34.
  8. See Diario Oficial, tomo ii, pp. 332 ff.
  9. Foreign Relations, 1923, vol. i, pp. 286 ff.