The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Portugal (Magruder)

No. 1049

Sir: The Department has received your telegram of July 22, 1929, in reply to its instruction of June 27, 1929, in regard to the action of the Portuguese Government in compelling naturalized American citizens of Portuguese origin to perform military service in Portugal or to pay a tax in lieu of such service.

The Department has given attentive consideration to your suggestion that the Legation regard its instruction of June 27, 1929 and its instruction of December 1, 1928 concerning the cases of persons born in the United States of Portuguese parents as presenting two phases of the same situation and that an effort be made to solve both problems in a single treaty.

As you know, there is now in effect a treaty between the United States and Portugal governing the status of naturalized citizens, which resembles in the main treaties which have been concluded between the United States and various countries. It does not appear that any difficulty has arisen out of the provisions of the present treaty or that the two Governments have differed with regard to its meaning. The difficulties which have arisen and which have been the subject of protests by various naturalized citizens of the United States appear to have arisen, principally if not entirely, from the failure of Portuguese officials to observe the treaty and to apply its provisions. Many protests have been received in recent years because of the action of Portuguese officials in conscripting naturalized American citizens of Portuguese origin or in taxing them or members of their families in total disregard of the provisions of the treaty under which they were [Page 481] required to recognize the naturalization of Portuguese in the United States as terminating their Portuguese nationality. In some of the cases mentioned the persons of whom military service or military taxes were required may have obtained naturalization in the United States during their minority, through the naturalization of their parents.

The Department considers that the provision of Article 1 of the treaty that “subjects of Portugal who become naturalized citizens of the United States of America and shall have resided uninterruptedly within the United States five years shall be held by Portugal to be American citizens and shall be treated as such”, is applicable to persons naturalized during their minority through the naturalization of their parents as well as to persons naturalized upon their own petitions. It does not appear that the Portuguese Government has adopted a different construction of this treaty provision in cases of the kind mentioned and it is not believed that there are any reasonable grounds upon which it could do so.

While the Department will be glad to consider any further recommendations which you may make in this matter, it is not convinced at present that it is necessary or desirable to endeavor to conclude a new treaty which would not only be applicable to persons born in either country of parents having the nationality of the other but would cover also cases of naturalized citizens and thus take the place of the treaty of 1908 concerning the latter. It is suggested that you avail yourself of a suitable opportunity to discuss this whole question again with the Portuguese Foreign Minister with reference to particular cases in which naturalized citizens of the United States appear to have been conscripted or compelled to pay military service taxes in violation of the present naturalization treaty, and that you endeavor to ascertain as definitely as possible the grounds upon which the Portuguese officials seek to justify their action. If any differences of opinion concerning the meaning of the treaty become apparent from such discussion, it may be possible to clear them up. Meantime, the drafting of a new convention will be held in abeyance, pending a final decision as to its scope.

I am [etc.]

For the Secretary of State:
Wilbur J. Carr