The Canadian Legation to the Department of State
Senate Bill No. S. 7, entitled “A Bill to provide for the deportation of certain alien seamen, and for other purposes”, is today being considered by the Senate of the United States. An identical measure, H. R. 4648, has been referred to the Committee on Immigration of the House of Representatives. This Bill repeats the provisions of other measures of the same title which in recent sessions of Congress, while making some legislative progress, have failed of enactment.
Though the object of the Bill is to amend certain provisions of the immigration laws relating to alien seamen, in practice its results would be far more extensive than its title implies. The Canadian Legation has received instructions to draw attention to the serious effect which the enactment of the Bill would have upon Canadian shipping.
In general terms, the Bill would require the Immigration authorities to exercise a control over the composition of the crews of foreign vessels in United States ports to a degree which does not accord with the well established international understanding and practice that the territorial authorities shall refrain from interference with the internal economy of private vessels of foreign States.
In effect the Bill would discriminate against foreign vessels trading to United States ports, and this discrimination would be especially [Page 957] marked in the ease of vessels employing a proportion of Oriental seamen in their crews. Under Section 7 of the Bill a vessel of Asiatic registry would be permitted to enter a United States port carrying a crew made up of its own nationals, whereas vessels registered in Canada and in other maritime countries would be prevented from employing any Asiatic labour. These provisions could not fail to operate in favour of Japan and other Asiatic countries at the expense of shipping registered in Canada and in other maritime countries.
Under Section 6 of the Bill, clearance would be refused to vessels departing from the United States unless they carried a crew of at least the same number as they carried on arrival. Compliance with this provision would often be a matter of extreme difficulty; it could not fail to lead to much unnecessary inconvenience, in many cases involving the alteration of sailing schedules and serious loss of business.
Particularly severe inconvenience to and interference with the daily international traffic on the Great Lakes and other constant services between nearby Canadian and United States ports would result from the enactment of the measure.
For these reasons it will be appreciated that His Majesty’s Government in Canada are especially disturbed by the possible passage of this legislation. They feel that it will cause great disruption of shipping facilities and trade between the United States and Canada and other countries without in fact effectively serving the purpose for which the Bill is sponsored in Congress. The Canadian Legation is therefore desired to express the earnest hope that the Bill will not become law.