811.5245/41

The Indian Agent General (Bajpai) to the Assistant Secretary of State (Berle)

F.104/43

Dear Mr. Berle: As arranged yesterday in the course of our conversation,89 I am sending you an aide-mémoire 90 on the subject of the Bill introduced in the Senate of California, of which certain provisions are likely to affect Indians in that State adversely. I understand that the Bill has already passed the Senate and is now under consideration by the Judiciary Committee of the Lower House. The matter is, therefore, of some urgency and I should be grateful if it could receive your early and sympathetic attention.

Yours sincerely,

G. S. Bajpai
[Page 310]
[Enclosure]

The Indian Agency General to the Department of State

F. 104/43

Memorandum

According to Sections 1 and 2 of the Alien Land Law of the State of California, adopted in November 192091 (see appendix I), aliens not eligible for citizenship may not acquire, possess, enjoy and transfer real property or any interest therein in the State. The Senate of California has recently adopted an amending Bill, Section 11a whereof reads as follows:

“Whenever leases, cropping agreements, or any other agreements to acquire, possess, enjoy, use, cultivate, occupy and transfer real property for farming or agricultural purposes or to transfer in whole or in part the beneficial use of said lands are made in the name of the wife or child of any alien mentioned in Section 2 of this act, or made in the name of any other person, and when any such alien mentioned in Section 2 of this act is then or thereafter allowed to remain or go upon the land, farm and cultivate same and enjoy directly or indirectly the beneficial use of such said agricultural lands or obtains or has a beneficial interest in or use of the proceeds received from the sale of the agricultural crops produced on said lands, then any person signing or entering into any such agreement with knowledge that any such alien shall be allowed or permitted to farm and cultivate such land and enjoy directly or indirectly the beneficial use of such agricultural lands or have a beneficial interest in or use of the proceeds received from the sale of the agricultural crops produced on said lands or any person who allows or permits any such alien to farm and cultivate such lands and enjoy directly or indirectly the beneficial use of such agricultural lands or obtain or have a beneficial interest in or use of the proceeds received from the sale of agricultural crops produced on said lands shall be guilty of violation of the terms and provisions of this act, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished in the manner provided in Sections 10 and 10a hereof, and the Attorney General or the district attorney of the proper county shall have the power to institute injunction proceedings in the name of the people of the State of California against any and all such persons for the purpose of enjoining and restraining them from carrying on farming operations on any agricultural lands in the State of California, under the terms and provisions of any such said agreements, contracts, or leases, as hereinbefore provided.”

The amending Bill is now before the Judiciary Committee of the Lower House of the State. It has been represented that, as Indians are not eligible for citizenship, the amendment, if allowed to become law, would prevent them from cultivating land held in the name of a wife or child or some other person eligible for citizenship. Precise statistics of the number of persons likely to be affected or the area of land held by Indians by eligible proxy are not available. According [Page 311]to such information as is available, however, the number of British Indian subjects who might be hit by the proposed amendment is between 80 and 100 while the area held by these persons through proxy is stated to be about 11,000 acres held under lease and 4,500 acres held in ownership. Details of the territorial distribution of this area are:

Leased Owned
Imperial Valley (Los Angeles Consular Districts) 10,000 Acres 2,000 Acres
Fresno (Central California) 500 Acres 1,200–1,300 Acres
Stockton (Northern California) . . . . . 400 Acres
Marysville (Northern California) 300–400 Acres 800 Acres
2.
It is presumed that the amendment is primarily aimed against Japanese nationals. Indians, however, like the Chinese, who would also appear to be affected, stand in a different category from the Japanese. They are nationals of a country which is at war with Japan and allied, in a strenuous endeavour, with the forces of the United States of America in the endeavour to defeat Japan. It is submitted that this consideration is sufficiently important by itself to justify a request for the exclusion of Indian nationals from the scope of the proposed law. Were economic reasons needed to support this request, it would be legitimate to point out that the number of Indians involved is both small and likely to diminish. Their ownership or occupation of land, as at present, and its continued cultivation could not, therefore, be in any way in conflict with the interests of the rest of the community.
3.
Opinion in India is especially sensitive on the subject of the rights and privileges of Indian nationals resident overseas. The enactment of a law of the kind in question would come as a severe shock to all sections of the Indian public. It is earnestly hoped, therefore, that action to avert the inclusion of Indians in California in the scope of this law will be found feasible.
G. S. Bajpai
[Subenclosure]

Appendix I

Alien Land Law.

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:

  • Section 1. All aliens eligible to citizenship under the laws of the United States may acquire, possess, enjoy, transmit and inherit real [Page 312]property, or any interest therein, in this state, in the same manner and to the same extent as citizens of the United States, except as otherwise provided by the laws of this state.
  • Section 2. All aliens other than those mentioned in section one of this act may acquire, possess, enjoy and transfer real property, or any interest therein, in this state, in the manner and to the extent and for the purpose prescribed by any treaty now existing between the government of the United States and the nation or country of which such alien is a citizen or subject, and not otherwise.

  1. No record of conversation found in Department files.
  2. Enclosure printed below.
  3. For correspondence regarding the passage of the California Land Law of 1920, see Foreign Relations, 1920, vol. iii, pp. 1 ff.