The Norwegian Minister (Bachke) to the Secretary of State
The Minister of Norway presents his compliments to the Secretary of State and has the honor to refer to the memorandum of the Norwegian Legation, dated January 28, 1928,6 dealing with the bill (S. 717), introduced in the United States Senate by Senator King and in the House of Representatives by Representative Schneider (H. R. 7763) and providing for the deportation of alien seamen and cited as “the Alien Seamen Act of 1926”.
In the said memorandum, the Norwegian Legation, acting under instructions of the Norwegian Government, had the honor to point out some of the difficulties and hardships to which the enactment of [Page 947] the bill would give rise and which would be detrimental to Norwegian ships in American ports.
The bill, after having been reintroduced during the last Congress, failed to pass the House of Representatives, but has now been submitted anew to the Senate (S. 7) and the House (H. R. 4648).
Norwegian shipowners looking with the same great concern at the possibility of the bills being enacted into law as before, the Norwegian Government has instructed the Minister to approach the Secretary of State and to again call his kind attention to the provisions of the bill which his Government considers to be of a very drastic character and which in its opinion undoubtedly will create difficulties for Norwegian vessels in American ports.
In this connection the Minister takes the liberty to mention:
- the provision of the bill providing for examination of the crew of every alien seaman on board of a vessel in order to determine whether or not he is a bona fide seaman. If he is determined to be a non bona fide seaman, he is to be regarded as an immigrant and be subjected to the immigration laws with removal from the ship and deportation as a consequence. A measure of this character would consequently mean that seamen of the said class arriving in Norwegian vessels will be taken off the vessels and sent home on another vessel. In the opinion of the Norwegian Government the measure mentioned appears to be contrary to the universally recognized rule which leaves it to the home country to decide what provisions are to apply with reference to the composition of the crews of its national vessels.
- the provision according to which no vessel, unless in distress, shall bring as a member of its crew any so-called barred-zone alien inadmissible as an immigrant, provided that vessels of any of the barred-zone countries shall be permitted to bring in its own nationals as members of the crew. Norwegian vessels, operating for instance in far oriental waters, would, under this provision, when chartered for American ports, be prevented from having among its crew oriental seamen from the barred-zone countries which for them in many instances amounts to a necessity, considering existing conditions in these countries. On the other hand, vessels with their home ports in the barred-zone countries, may freely bring in the same kind of seamen among their crews. It does not seem doubtful that such a difference in the treatment of the vessels will signify discrimination against vessels sailing under the Norwegian flag.
- the provision stating that seamen, removed from the crew of a foreign vessel, shall be deported on a vessel other than that on which he was brought, at the expense of the vessel by which brought. This provision will result in many cases in considerable expenses to the owners. As the deportation of these seamen in many cases could as well take place on board the vessels which brought them, it seems [Page 948] difficult to understand for which reason such unnecessary expenses should be imposed upon the shipowners.