The Department of State to the Spanish Embassy
The Spanish Embassy’s memorandum of November 28, 1942 raises certain questions with respect to the application of the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, as amended, to Spanish citizens in view of the provisions of Article V of the Treaty of Friendship and General Relations concluded by the United States and Spain on July 3, 1902.
Objection is made to local draft boards requiring Spanish citizens to answer certain questionnaires in which they are asked to state whether they have any objection to military service in the United States and the view is expressed that under the treaty provisions referred [Page 498]to Spanish citizens are excluded from military service in the United States; that “such exclusion should be automatic”; and that the will of the persons concerned cannot be taken into account.
Section 2 of the Act referred to, as amended, makes it the duty of every male person residing in the United States within specified ages to submit to registration as shall be determined by rules and regulations prescribed thereunder. In accordance with such rules and regulations aliens required to register must fill out certain forms in which they are asked, among other things, to indicate whether they object to military service in the United States forces.
The part of Article V of the treaty referred to which is pertinent to the question under consideration provides as follows:
“The citizens or subjects of each of the High Contracting Parties shall be exempted in the territories of the other from all compulsory military service, by land or sea, and from all pecuniary contributions in lieu of such, as well as from all obligatory functions whatsoever.”
The Department finds nothing in these treaty provisions which exempts Spanish citizens in the United States from the registration referred to above.
Section 3 (a) of the Selective Training and Service Act, as amended, makes every male person residing in the United States within certain specified ages liable for training and service in the land or naval forces of the United States but provides that any citizen or subject of a neutral country shall be relieved from such liability, if prior to his induction into such forces, he makes application to be relieved from such liability in the manner prescribed by rules and regulations issued thereunder. Under the provisions of Article V of the treaty referred to above Spanish citizens are exempted from all “compulsory” military service in the United States but there is nothing in the provisions referred to which excludes or prevents Spanish citizens from performing such service if they desire to do so. The Department considers such service entirely consistent with the permanent residence of such persons in this country particularly when such residence has been long continued or when the resident has declared his intention to become an American citizen.
Since it is the purpose of the questionnaires to ascertain whether the alien desires to serve in the United States forces it is not believed that upon reconsideration the Spanish Embassy will have any objection to compliance by Spanish citizens with the regulations requiring the submission of such forms.