Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs ( Murray ) to the Assistant to the Legal Adviser ( Flournoy )

Mr. Flournoy: The attached letter20 from the Reverend Benjamin Hoffiz raises several question [s] regarding the effect upon American citizens of Syrian or Lebanese origin if they opt for Syrian or Lebanese nationality under the terms of the Franco-Turkish Agreement of May 29, 1937. It will be recalled that the Agreement in question extended for one year from the date of its signature the provisions of Article 34 of the Treaty of Lausanne, between the Allied Powers and Turkey, under which Turkish nationals, natives of territories detached from Turkey, habitually resident abroad, might opt for the nationality of the territory of which they were natives.

Prior to writing the attached letter the Reverend Mr. Hoffiz called at the Department and stated that he was particularly anxious to determine whether opting for Syrian or Lebanese nationality by American citizens of Syrian or Lebanese origin would have any effect upon their American nationality. In order that persons of Syrian [Page 937] origin in this country may have a clear idea as to the effect upon their American citizenship of option for Syrian or Lebanese nationality, it seems desirable to furnish the Reverend Mr. Hoffiz with the Department’s opinion in order that he may advise his compatriots. You have already expressed informally the opinion that such option would have no effect upon the American citizenship of the persons in question as long as such persons continue to reside in the United States. It was my understanding, however, that you felt that if, after opting, such persons should take some step to carry their choice of nationality into effect, such as taking up residence in Syria or in the Lebanese Republic, they would automatically lose their American citizenship under the terms of the Act of 1907.21

I should be appreciative if you would suggest a paragraph covering this point for incorporation in a letter which we intend to write to Mr. Hoffiz. I attach a rough draft22 of such a letter.

Wallace Murray
  1. Not printed.
  2. 34 Stat. 1228.
  3. Not found in Department files.