The Swedish Legation to the Department of State
Swedish shipowners operating vessels on the United States have voiced their deep concern on account of Senate Bill 7, introduced by Senator King during the present session, regarding the deportation of certain alien seamen (“Alien seamen Act”). The provisions of the bill seem to give room for such a strict interpretation as to exclude seamen of a kind that masters of ships very often have to employ in traffic between North and South America on account of a shortage of such seamen as would ordinarily come within the category “bona fide seamen”.
The passage of the bill would undoubtedly create great difficulties in securing the necessary crews and cause many hardships and considerable losses to Swedish shipowners.
The provisions in the bill which prescribe that all vessels entering ports of the United States manned with crews the majority of which, exclusive of licensed officers, have been engaged and taken on at foreign ports shall, when departing from the United States ports, carry a crew of at least equal number, may also create great difficulties for the Swedish shipowners.
From an international point of view objection can also be raised against the provision of the bill, according to which a seaman, even if he never went ashore, could be taken off a foreign ship—by force if necessary—and sent home on another ship. It would cause particular hardship to this individual if he, as the bill authorizes, should be deported as an immigrant, although he never intended to enter the country as an immigrant, thereby being prevented from legally entering the United States at any future time.
Furthermore, in case a seaman deserted the ship immediately before its departure, the ship would be forced, according to the provisions in the bill, to postpone its departure until another seaman was signed on to fill his place, which might take a long time and cause considerable loss.