The Acting Secretary of State to the Chairman of the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization (Dickstein)25
My Dear Mr. Dickstein: The Department has been importuned at various times to support legislation to make Filipinos eligible to naturalization in the United States. While I am not unmindful of the fact that the question whether the privilege of naturalization should be extended to members of any race not now eligible to naturalization is a matter involving legislative policy, I do not consider that I would be unwarranted in pointing out that the Filipino people have long shown their attachments to the ideals and principles of the United States; that they have a long and unbroken record of loyalty to the United States; that they have valiantly resisted the invaders of the Philippines and are continuing to do so; that Filipino soldiers fought courageously against the Japanese in the Philippines, especially at Bataan; that many Filipinos are now serving in the military forces of the United States, the maritime service and the essential war industries in this country and that Filipinos in the United States have always been held in high esteem by the American people. While I could cite many reasons why Filipinos should be made eligible to naturalization, I know of no reason why they should not be.
I have ascertained that there are now pending before Congress a number of bills to authorize the naturalization of Filipinos. One such bill, H. R. 4826 which was introduced in the House of Representatives on May 18, 1944 by Representative McGehee and which was referred to your Committee, comes nearest to meeting the views of the Department. Its enactment would make Filipino persons or persons of Filipino descent eligible to naturalization in the United States. The Department believes, however, that a proviso should be added to Section 1 of the bill reading somewhat along the following lines:
“Provided that no certificate of arrival shall be required of any Filipino person or person of Filipino descent who is now a citizen of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, and who entered the United States prior to May 1, 1934 and has since continuously resided in the United States.”
Prior to May 1, 1934 Filipino persons or persons of Filipino descent who owed allegiance to the United States generally were not considered aliens for immigration purposes and no record could have been made of their entry into the United States as aliens upon which a certificate of arrival could be issued. Since May 21, 1934, records have been made of the admission to the United States of all such persons as aliens. It would seem inequitable for a Filipino person or a person of Filipino descent who is now a citizen of the Commonwealth of the Philippines and who entered the United States prior to May 1, 1934 and has since continuously resided herein to be unable to become naturalized because of his inability to obtain a certificate of arrival. For this reason a proviso such as that suggested would seem desirable and just.
I should be pleased if the Congress in its wisdom should approve H.R. 4826 with the amendment above suggested or any similar bill having the same purpose.26
The Department has been informed by the Bureau of the Budget that there is no objection to the transmission of such report as the State Department may deem appropriate after considering the suggestions made by the Attorney General in his letter dated October 17, 1944, of which a copy is enclosed,27 together with a copy of the letter of transmittal from the Bureau of the Budget.28
[Further legislation authorizing the naturalization of Filipinos was introduced into the 79th Congress as H.R. 776. In commenting on this bill in a letter of February 2, 1945, to Chairman Dickstein, Acting Secretary of State Grew stated: “I desire to say that it is the considered opinion of the Department that the privilege of naturalization should be extended to Filipino persons and persons of Filipino descent.” (130 (1940)/783) The Acting Secretary of State sent a letter of similar import to Chairman Russell on May 22, 1945.
The House of Representatives and the Senate passed differing versions of H.R. 776 on April 17, 1945, and June 14, 1946 (Congressional Record, vol. 91, pt. 3, p. 3454 and ibid., vol. 92, pt. 6, pp. 6933–6934) but the measure did not go to conference. Instead, legislation of similar purport was enacted as part of Public Law 483, approved July 2, 1946 (60 Stat. 416).]
- Copy sent on November 20 to Chairman Richard B. Russell of the Senate Committee on Immigration.↩
- In Report No. 1940, 78th Cong., 2d Sess., submitted on November 27, 1944, to the Committee of the Whole House, the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization recommended passage of the bill with amendments. The measure was discussed in the House on December 4 (Congressional Record, vol. 90, pt. 7, p. 8765) but no action was taken.↩
- Letter of Attorney General Francis Biddle to Harold D. Smith, Director of the Bureau of the Budget, not printed.↩
- Letter of November 18 not printed.↩