710. Consultation (3)A/120b

The Under Secretary of State (Welles) to the Chairman of the Emergency Advisory Committee for Political Defense (Guani)

Excellency: I have the honor to address your Excellency concerning the Resolution approved by the Emergency Advisory Committee for Political Defense on May 5 [7], 1942, entitled “Resolution Relative to a Questionnaire for Identifying Friendly Aliens and for the Disclosure of Subversive Elements within the American Nations”,21 and concerning the letter of May 9, 194222 addressed by your Excellency to the Secretary of State of the United States transmitting a copy of that Resolution.

In compliance with the request made in your letter to the Secretary of State and in order to assist the Committee in its compliance with Article 21 of the Regulations, I beg to report herewith on the measures which are being undertaken by this Government to accomplish the objectives set forth in the Resolution.

The following steps have been taken by this Government to secure the identification and reporting of Axis nationals:

In 1940 all aliens were required by a special statute of the United States23 to register and to make an initial and complete report of their activities.

Under the statute known as the Alien Enemy Act of 179824 all nationals of those States with which this country is at war are subject to summary apprehension, internment and to such other restrictions upon their liberty as may be found necessary in the interest of national security. Upon the declaration of war and pursuant to the authority vested by this statute those nationals of the member States of the Tripartite Pact who were deemed particularly dangerous were immediately apprehended and interned for the duration. In addition, all enemy nationals were required again to register and in that connection to make an immediate and comprehensive report to the authorities as to their activities and affiliations, including information as to the organizational activities set forth in the Annex to the Resolution approved by the Committee. Unfriendly enemy nationals who were not considered sufficiently dangerous to be interned or confined for the duration were temporarily paroled and ordered to report weekly, or less often, to the proper authorities.

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Under the provisions of another statute any alien who desires to work in any private corporation or business which produces any material for the war effort is required to make a special application and report to the Secretary of War or the Secretary of the Navy. The alien is then carefully investigated by the intelligence agencies and if his loyalty to the United States is confirmed a special certificate is issued permitting his employment.

Those who comply with all the laws of the country and with all the special regulations restricting their conduct and liberty have been given assurance by the President that they will be permitted to exercise the usual rights and privileges accorded aliens by the Constitution and laws of this country.

The following steps have been taken with respect to the surveillance and control of organizations:

Those organizations which were deemed dangerous to the national security have been proceeded against, their records seized, and many of their members prosecuted. This and other action has resulted in the effective dissolution of a considerable number of organizations.

In addition, enemy nationals are forbidden to retain any membership in or connections with any organization found to have been subversive in character.

Organizations which still exist for certain purposes or are engaged in certain activities are required under applicable statutes to file with the Department of Justice a complete statement of their membership, finances, purposes and activities, and to report periodically in order to keep current the information thus furnished. Adequate penalties are provided for failure to report fully and accurately.

A total of some sixteen thousand organizations and branches thereof are kept under constant surveillance by the investigative agencies of the Government, even though they do not appear to be subversive in character. In addition, continuous studies and analyses are made of some fifteen hundred publications in English or in various foreign languages, some of which act as organs for suspected organizations.

It is believed that the foregoing described laws and regulations give effect in this country to the substance of proposals contained in said recommendation, except for the suggestion relating to the general issuance of “Certificates of Compliance”.

With respect to this subject and in accordance with the statement in the last paragraph of the letter from your Excellency requesting the observations of this Government, I beg to transmit to your Excellency certain inquiries which have been made by officials of this Government who are charged with the control of enemy nationals and of subversive organizations. They would like to know the precise scope of the certificate of compliance and the extent to which it would represent an official verification of the information supplied in the report by the individual or organization concerned. They would appreciate being informed as to whether it is intended that the certificate would be issued mainly upon the basis of an examination of the [Page 92]report furnished by the individual or organization or whether the certificate would be issued only after a complete investigation of all the associations and activities of the individual or organization. The officials further inquire whether such certificates of compliance would be given a permanent validity or would be limited in time, to be renewed at intervals.

In addition, they also seek to inquire as to whether there exists a danger that the certificate might be misinterpreted as an official approval of the individual or organization, of official sanction of its activities, or that the certificate might be used by the unscrupulous to mislead others into believing that it indicated governmental endorsement or sponsorship.

The officials of this Government are continuing to give consideration to this problem and deeply appreciate the opportunity of being able to take advantage of whatever further information or advice the Committee will be disposed to offer with respect thereto.

Please accept [etc.]

Sumner Welles
  1. For text, see Emergency Advisory Committee for Political Defense, Annual Report, July 1943 (Montevideo, 1943), p. 51.
  2. Not printed.
  3. The Alien Registration Act of June 28, 1940; 54 Stat. 670.
  4. 1 Stat. 577.