« PreviousContinue »
One of the most creditable achievements of the administration of President Roosevelt was the reformation of our naturalization laws.
These laws, substantially the statutes enacted more than a hundred years ago when our population was less than four millions, and when it was the policy of our government to invite immigration, were ill adapted to our modern conditions, with a population of eighty millions and an influx of foreigners of more than a million annually. Under these laws lax and unsatisfactory methods of naturalization had grown up, opening the way to gross frauds against our citizenship, including perjury, false impersonation, and traffic in false and counterfeit certificates of citizenship. Such certificates were sometimes sold to alien criminals to secure their admission to the United States, and frequently to procure protection against their home governments. Cases have actually occurred where aliens have landed on our shores for the first time, having in their possession certificates entitling them to the full rights of American citizenship.
Our Presidents had on numerous occasions brought the subject to the attention of Congress and urged legislation, but without effect. At length, in March, 1905, President Roosevelt-at the suggestion, it is understood, of the Honorable Oscar Straus, now Secretary of Commerce and Labor-appointed, by Executive order, a special commission, composed of Milton D. Purdy of the Department of Justice, Gaillard Hunt of the Department of State, and Richard K. Campbell of the Department of Commerce
and Labor, to investigate the subject of naturalization, and recommend legislation. The Commission made a thorough investigation and report and submitted drafts of bills which the President transmitted to Congress. While the bills drafted by the Commission were not enacted into law, their recommendations formed the basis for the bill prepared and reported by the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, which, with some modifications, became a law on June 29, 1906.
This law effects a revolution in our system of naturalization, giving the Federal Government effective control of the matter through a central bureau in the Department of Commerce and Labor, and throws such safeguards around naturalization as will effectually prevent frauds if the law is enforced,-and no one who knows President Roosevelt and Secretary Straus can doubt that it will be faithfully and rigidly enforced.
Besides the numerous changes in our statutes made by this law, as shown in the text, still more recent legislation, making further modifications of importance and far-reaching consequences in our naturalization laws, has been enacted. In pursuance of a report of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs (H. Rep. No. 4,784, 59th Cong., 1st session), Secretary Root designated James B. Scott, Solicitor for the Department of State, David J. Hill, Minister to the Netherlands, and Gaillard Hunt, chief of the Passport Bureau (now the Bureau of Citizenship), to make an inquiry into the subjects of citizenship, expatriation and protection abroad, and to report with recommendations. The report of this board, which was embodied in House Document No. 326, 59th Cong., 2d session, together with recommendations of the board, was transmitted to Congress, and nearly all of the recommendations were incorporated in the law of March 2, 1907.
These numerous modifications of our laws, and the
lack of any comprehensive work on the subject of naturalization, have influenced the writer to prepare, as a companion volume to his work “Citizenship of the United States," an independent treatise on Naturalization. While the recent legislation completely changes the method of naturalizing aliens, parts of the old laws remain in force. This work clearly indicates the changes made, and undertakes to show by an exhaustive analysis of the new legislation and by reference to and discussion of the judicial decisions and the opinions and rulings of the Executive and international claims commissions, what the law of naturalization now is.
The work is specially designed to meet the needs of judges and clerks of courts having jurisdiction in naturalization matters, of United States Attorneys who appear for the government in naturalization proceedings and in proceedings to set aside or cancel naturalization certificates, of diplomatic and consular officers and other officers in the various branches of the government service dealing with questions relating to citizenship and naturalization. It is believed that the work will also fill a real need in furnishing, in comprehensive and convenient form, to lawyers who desire to advise their clients seeking naturalization or to establish rights of citizenship, and to general readers and students wishing to be well informed, the complete law on this important subject. Executive and Departmental orders and regulations are included in their appropriate places and the book will be found to constitute an exhaustive manual.
In the preparation of the work considerable assistance was derived from the comprehensive report of the citizenship board referred to, as well as from the chapter on nationality in John Bassett Moore's monumental work, the International Law Digest, and the author desires to make due acknowledgment therefor.