« PreviousContinue »
classes must hold certificates issued by designated officials of their own governments and approved by American consular officers; and the system, above alluded to, which was put into operation some time ago at the more important consulates in the Orient contemplates that the experts upon the Chinese-exclusion laws shall make investigations and report to the consulates with regard to every applicant for visé of a certificate. As the immigration law does not require that immigrants generally shall hold certificates of any kind, and as the approval of passports by consular officials depends upon considerations quite different from those affecting the approval of Chinese certificates, immigration officers attached to the consulates probably couid not go nearly so far toward actually enforcing the law as the officials attached to the consulates in the Orient now do. But they could accomplish a great deal toward discouraging un- . desirable immigration as well as giving authoritative information to persons clearly and beyond a doubt of desirable type.
The matter of having representatives of the Immigration Service permanently stationed at consular offices and elsewhere in foreign countries has been frequently discussed, but not until the excellent results of the passport-visé system appeared, were the advantages of the proposal so clearly established.
The bureau is not advocating the permanent retention of the visé system as maintained during the war, but does strongly favor the continuance, as an immigration measure, of the principle involved, with or without the use of passports. It can be used not only as a means to aid in the regulation of immigration, but in gathering and giving information which will be beneficial in administering the immigration laws. Much of the misunderstanding arising in the enforcement of our laws results from lack of information of their requirements. The bureau is satisfied that there is in the system now in operation the germ of a new extension of the immigration service, whose officers, acting either under the State Departments officials abroad or in á separate capacity as representatives of this department, but always cooperating fully with the former, will furnish an element that will help to complete its machinery of administration.
Immigration is a world question, but for each nation it has a domestic application. In order that such application may be intelligently made, world wide information, not at intervals but constantly, has long been a necessity, and is now more so than ever before.
The bureau is engaged in a study of the question and it hopes to submit to the department for its consideration a plan for the operation of the proposed system.
CONTINUANCE IN FORCE OF ACT OF MAY 22, 1918.
In the meantime the bureau believes that in view of the present condition of Europe a temporary continuation of the existing passport-visé system is as necessary as its institution became during the war. In war time it was the public enemy that was to be kept out; now it is the undesirable, the enemy of law and order, the breeder of revolution, and the advocate of anarchy against whom we should guard. As above indicated, it is not desired that war-time regulations be maintained permanently, but, with modifications suited to
changing conditions, they should be continued at least for a sufficient length of time (not less than a year after the ratification of the treaty of peace by the Allies) to permit the resumption of peace throughout the war zone and the various districts where civil war and other disturbances have taken place since the armistice.
The bureau is interested in its continuance from an immigration standpoint, and in conference with the representatives of the State Department it has joined in efforts approved by this department to continue in force the act of Congress of May 22, 1918, under which the passport-visé system was legalized and maintained in operation.
BUREAU STAFF AND OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS.
As immigration laws have been extended more and more into new fields and as their restrictive features have become more stringent, making it more difficult for the inadmissible classes to enter the United States, so there have been added greater responsibilities and a vast amount of labor not before usual in the bureau's administrative work. Thus the bureau has made recommendations for additions to its legal staff and other subdivisions, which it considers absolutely necessary to meet the growing business and responsibilities that rest upon it. When it is considered that the bureau is practically an appellate tribunal, which in administering the immigration laws deals with questions involving international, constitutional, and municipal law, it can readily be seen that it is not unreasonable to request that it be supplied with officers learned in the law and with experts in immigration work to enable it to pass upon the difficult problems constantly arising:
This leads the bureau to the thought that the usual practice (which to a greater or less degree seems necessary in order to permit functioning on the part of the Government, owing to the immensity of the work required to conduct it) whereby the various executive departments approve, as a general rule, the final judgment of bureau chiefs, places a department in a position where, if it desires in particular matters or in cases of doubt to further consider from its own standpoint the subject coming up for decision, it needs a special staff for this particular purpose. In immigration matters, dealing wholly with human rights, it is not surprising that such a staff has become necessary in the Department of Labor. Without it unavoidable delays in reaching decisions on appeals and other proceedings transmitted from the bureau to the departmental head acting on such matters may be expected to arise. An additional Assistant Secretary, to have jurisdiction entirely in immigration matters, seems desirable, and to the extent that it is proper for the bureau to express itself upon the subject, it most strongly recommends that such steps be taken as may be approved by the Secretary to secure legislation having in view both of these purposes.
In the absence of legislation providing for the organization of such a staff and in order to facilitate the dispatch of business arising under the immigration law through the Bureau of Immigration, it would be advisable that the bureau be constituted an examining authority, acting as the staff of the department and directly under its supervision and instruction, in the same manner as the staff above suggested would ofliciate.
As at present advised, the bureau is inclined to believe that the former suggestion is more practicable, as it harmonizes with the existing system and as the immigration laws have been worded in such a way as to fit in with the present establishment.
The signing of the armistice and the demobilization of the American forces serving in the World War caused the return to their respective fields of work under the bureau those members of the immigration force who entered the service of their country. All those who have returned and have been placed on duty have come with an honorable discharge, and the record so far as shown demonstrates that they shared not only in the great work performed but also in the honors achieved by the defenders of the Nation.
At the proper time, and when all shall have been accounted for, it is proposed to make suitable mention of each one, giving the details of his service, so that the honorable part taken by the members of the bureau force will be recorded. Without waiting for the passage of a law on the subject, the department and bureau promptly reinstated all who returned to their former station and pay, plus such addition as they would have obtained through promotion had they remained on duty.
The bureau feels a just pride in the fact that so many answered the call, and that all have served their country so well.
In conclusion, the bureau desires to express to the field officers and employees of the Immigration Service its commendation for the efforts they have put forth during the past year in their varied and responsible duties, and it repeats to them, as the ones upon whom the larger share of the burden has fallen, the expressions of satisfaction which have been received by it from the heads of the other departments of the Government with which the service has been privileged to cooperate in the enforcement of war measures. At the same time, Mr. Secretary, it has again to acknowledge the helpful guidance and valued advice at all times received from the officers of this department, most especially from yourself.
Commissioner General. Hon. W. B. WILSON,
Secretary of Labor.