The Danish Legation to the Department of State
The bill S.7 introduced in the Senate and the bill H. R. 4646  of the same tenor, which are similar to bills introduced in former Congresses, would seem, if passed, to entail serious hardships—among others to Danish ships trading to ports of the United States.
1) Sec. 3, prescribes that an alien shipped on board a foreign ship, if found not to be a “bona fide” seaman, should be deported as a passenger on a vessel other than by which brought, etc.
It seems a fact established by experience that the distinction between “bona fide” and “mala fide” seamen is extremely difficult to make and that therefore the risk of an erroneous judgment in this respect should not be taken by the ship. To obtain the purpose of the bill and at the same time avoid the serious consequences for the ship it would, therefore, at any rate seem preferable if before the departure of the ship from the foreign port it could be established e.g. by the local American Consul that all members of the crew were “bona fide” seamen.
If nevertheless a prescription of the character outlined—to the effect of examining seamen at the port of arrival—should be found necessary, it would seem that Sec. 3 with its present tenor imposes a considerable additional burden on the foreign ship in providing that the alien shall be deported on another ship at the expense of the vessel by which brought, instead of allowing deportation on the same ship that brought the alien.
2) Sec. 6, provides inter alias that all vessels when departing from the United States’ ports shall “carry a crew of at least equal number” (as when arriving).[Page 955]
Such a provision would cause great difficulties to foreign ships, not least passenger ships. This would seem obvious considering the fact that steamers usually clear before the Customs authorities the day prior to their sailing. In the case of desertion of any members of the crew just before sailing, the vessel would be held up awaiting the replacement of the deserters, which would necessarily occasion great inconvenience and large expenses.
3) Sec. 7, forbids the bringing into an American port as a member of a ship’s crew any alien who, if applying for admission as an Immigrant, would be subject to exclusion under subdivision (c) of Section 13 of the Immigration Act of 1924.
In so far as this prescription will apply to aliens racially excluded this provision would seriously affect Danish ships using oriental crews, such as in particular ships trading to American ports at the Pacific Ocean.
The Danish Minister would greatly appreciate if through the good offices of the State Department the above considerations may be brought to the notice of the proper Committee of Congress and that the said Committee may be informed of the concern felt by the Danish shipping circles with regard to this proposed legislation.