555.H2/158

The Secretary of State to the Cuban Chargé ( Altunaga )

Sir: I beg to acknowledge with thanks the receipt of your note of August 24 enclosing three copies of the Final Act of the Second International Conference on Emigration and Immigration held in Habana, March–April, 1928, one of the copies being certified by the Under Secretary of State of Cuba.

In your note you touch upon the possibility of this Government’s adhering to the resolution adopted by the Habana Conference regarding the holding of a third International Conference on Emigration and Immigration in Madrid, the organization of which would be in the charge of the Directing Committee as provided in paragraphs one and two of the resolution under reference.

It will not have escaped the attention of your Government that the delegates of the United States to the Second International Conference on Emigration and Immigration abstained from voting on the resolution in question as well as upon the other resolutions presented to the Conference, and it will be recalled that following the adoption of the resolution under reference they explained verbally to officials of the Conference that they did not consider the vote of acclamation adopted by the Conference with respect to paragraphs one and two of the resolution as in any way binding upon the United States and that they wished to be understood as having abstained from voting upon those paragraphs. In order to avoid any possibility of misunderstanding upon this point, I take this occasion formally to confirm the statements made at that time by the American delegates.

With regard to the possibility of the United States adhering to the resolution regarding the holding of a third Conference in Madrid, [Page 527] I would advert to the traditional attitude of the United States on the subject of immigration as set forth by the American delegates to the Habana Conference to the effect that the Government of the United States considers the control of immigration to be a matter of purely domestic concern, representing the exercise of a sovereign right, and that, so far as the United States is concerned, the authority of its Congress in immigration matters is exclusive. In view of the very definite manner in which the Congress has exercised this authority, particularly in the passage of the Immigration Act of 1924, and considering the fundamental divisions of opinion on the subject of immigration which developed at the Habana Conference, this Government is constrained to state that in its view no useful purpose is served by such Conferences other than the exchange of technical information, an aim which it believes can be satisfactorily achieved by direct correspondence between Governments and international organizations. The Government of the United States must therefore state that under existing circumstances it is not disposed to adhere to the resolution in question nor to participate in a third International Conference on Emigration and Immigration, and I should be grateful if you would be good enough to convey its views, with regard to the holding of a third International Conference on Emigration and Immigration, as here expressed, to the appropriate quarter.

Accept [etc.]

Frank B. Kellogg