The Netherlands Legation to the Department of State
In view of the fact that, the “Bill to provide for the deportation of certain alien seamen, and for other purposes (S. 202)”, referred [Page 950] to in this Legation’s memorandum No. 634, of February 25 last,7 upon which project of law no final action was taken by the Senate in the previous session of Congress, has now been revived under number S 7 and will probably come up for consideration in the Senate shortly, the Royal Netherland Legation begs leave to point out once again to the Department of State, that the proposed legislation if enacted, would have a most detrimental effect on the Netherland mercantile marine in general and in the case of certain companies would even seriously jeopardize the position of their services to United States ports.
The first provision which, if passed by Congress, would affect Netherland shipping interests is that of section 7 of the bill in question which prohibits any vessel from bringing into a United States port among her crew certain aliens who are racially excluded from coming to this country as immigrants.
Now a considerable number of Netherland steamships, especially those which ply between the Netherland East Indies and Western ports, are to a great extent manned by Javanese, Malays etc. all subjects of the Netherlands and by Chinese and other Asiatics, who are in many cases also Netherland subjects.
These vessels would, if the provision in question should come into force, be compelled to either cease calling at United States ports or discharge all the Asiatic members of their crews even those who are Netherland subjects and replace them by non-Asiatics, which would in many cases be impossible as there is not always a sufficient number of white seamen obtainable in the Netherland East Indian homeports of the ships in question.
Apart from the hardships and injustice the application of this provision would cause it would hardly seem reasonable that a vessel flying the Netherland flag and being governed by the Netherland laws should not be allowed to have certain of the subjects of her own country among her crew when entering a port of the United States.
The second clause which will affect, if enacted, Netherland shipping is that, contained in section 6, prescribing that clearance will be refused to any ship manned with a crew the majority of whose members have been engaged and taken on at foreign ports, which, on leaving the United States, carries a smaller crew than at the time the vessel arrived in this country.
It is obvious that this provision will in many cases cause delay and considerable pecuniary loss to Netherland vessels and it would seem hardly fair to force the latter to engage a number of, in certain [Page 951] cases, undesirables merely in order to bring the crew up to its full complement, the more so as it is impossible for the masters of the ships to guard against the desertions which cause these vacancies, the United States law not allowing them to take legal action against the culprits.
In view of the above stated reasons the Royal Netherland Government would highly appreciate it if full consideration could be given by the United States Government and Congress to the very important Netherland interests, which would be endangered by the enactment of the bill in question.
The Royal Netherland Legation begs leave to add that all the above considerations apply in equal measure to the bill H. R. 4648, which was introduced by Mr. Schneider in the House of Representatives.