The British Ambassador ( Howard ) to the Secretary of State

No. 74

Sir: I have the honour to inform you that my attention has been drawn to a Bill S. 357431 providing for the deportation of certain alien seamen and for other purposes, which was considered on the 2nd instant by the United States Senate, and passed in the third reading.

Section 3 of this bill provides that every alien employed on board of any vessel arriving in the United States who is found on examination by an immigration inspector not to be a bona fide seaman is immediately to be removed from the vessel to an immigration station, and if found to be inadmissible to the United States is to be deported as a passenger “on a vessel other than that on which brought, at the expense of the vessel by which brought, and the vessel by which brought shall not be granted clearance until such expenses are paid or their payment satisfactorily guaranteed.”

Furthermore, it appears from Section 7 of this bill that foreign vessels entering United States ports are to be debarred from including as members of their crew aliens ineligible to United States citizenship who are non-admissible to the United States under Section 13 (c) of the Immigration Act of 1924,32 unless such aliens are natives of the particular country, island, dependency or colony to the merchant marine of which the vessel in question belongs.

This Section of the Bill also lays down that any alien seaman brought into a port of the United States in violation of this provision shall be excluded from admission or temporary landing and shall be deported to the place of shipment or to the country of his nativity on a vessel other than that on which brought, the deportation expenses [Page 839] being defrayed by the vessel on which the alien is brought to the United States.

Inasmuch as the above mentioned sections, if interpreted in a restrictive sense, must, I cannot but feel, meet with the strenuous opposition of shipping interests in the different parts of the British Empire, I have drawn the attention of His Majesty’s Government thereto for such action as they may consider suitable. At the same time, I am not clear as to the exact interpretation which should be placed upon the above mentioned sections of the Bill and as to the manner in which their provisions, if enacted, will be applied to vessels of the mercantile marine of Great Britain and the self-governing Dominions, and I should accordingly be grateful to receive from the appropriate authorities of the United States Government at their earliest convenience an authoritative interpretation of the meaning of Sections 3 and 7 of the Bill under reference.33

I have [etc.]

Esme Howard
  1. Congressional Record, Feb. 2, 1927, vol. 68, pt. 3, p. 2782.
  2. 43 Stat. 153.
  3. The British Embassy was informed orally by an officer of the Department of State regarding the status of the bill and that it was unlikely that any House committee action would be taken without the Department of State having an opportunity to be heard.