The Deputy Commissioner, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Department of Labor (Shaughnessy) to the Secretary of State
My Dear Mr. Secretary: I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your letter received on the 20th ultimo, without date,41 reference NE 711.689 Seamen/1, enclosing copy of a note from the Greek Legation [Page 333]in which it is proposed that this Government and the Greek Government enter into an agreement for the reciprocal recognition of seamen’s identification cards. You request the views of this Department with respect to this proposal.
In the opinion of this Department, it is not deemed advisable that this Government enter into such an agreement. Under existing regulations, Greek seamen, as well as all other alien seamen, arriving at a port in the United States, sent forward by the owners to join a foreign vessel in such port as members of the crew, may be admitted without passports if traveling on a group transit certificate as provided in Note 68 to Section 361 of the Consular Regulations. It is very seldom that individual seamen are sent to the United States for the purpose of joining a foreign vessel. As passports are not required of alien seamen who are granted shore leave in American ports, this Department can not see, therefore, just what purpose would be served by an identification card as proposed by the Greek Legation.
I might add, for your confidential information, that our officers at seaports of entry have reported a marked increase in the number of Greek seamen deserting upon arrival. It is believed that the issuance of identification cards to seamen would increase, rather than decrease, these illegal entries, as many of them undoubtedly, through some means or another, would come into the hands of unauthorized persons and would be used for the purpose of effecting the fraudulent entry of aliens into this country.
- Letter of March 18, not printed.↩