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SELECTIVE IMMIGRATION LEGISLATION
TUESDAY, APRIL 8, 1924
UNITED STATES SENATE,
Washington, D. C. The committee met, pursuant to adjournment, at 10.30 o'clock a. m., in the Immigration Committee room, Capitol, Senator Le Baron B. Colt (presiding).
Present: Senators Colt (chairman), Willis, Reed of Pennsylvania, King, Harris, Harrison, and Copeland.
The CHAIRMAN. There is a quorum present.
At the outset, I wish to state that an effort was made to get former Commissioner Wallis here this morning. I have a telegram dated New York, April 7, reading as follows:
Trying all day to reach Commissioner Wallis. Impossible for him to attend hearing to-morrow. Will attend any day except Thursday.
FELLOWS, Secretary. Mr. Furuseth, I suppose you did not finish your testimony, did you? Have you anything to add?
Mr. FURUSETH. I called attention yesterday to the case of Scharrenberg v. Dallas Steamship Co., under which the Supreme Court decided that a seaman was not a laborer and did not come within the contract labor law, and that an American ship's deck is not American soil. I called attention to that and the result of that decision, but I did not call attention to the fact that they are now importing Chinese from Hongkong directly to New York to fill the ships that Mr. Dollar bought from the United States Govern
They are brought to New York through the canal. That is the only phase I did not call attention to yesterday.
Then, there is this thing. There are about 600,000 of foot-loose men coming into the ports of the United States every year, men who have no ties to hold them to their ships. The other 400,000 are either officers or prospective officers. Six hundred thousand that come in that way, therefore, are liable to get out and among them you have all these people that violate the immigration laws. These are the people we seek to deal with.
Senator REED of Pennsylvania. My recollection is that there were 1,018,000 alien seamen examined in our ports in the last fiscal year.
Mr. FURUSETH. That is right. Senator REED of Pennsylvania. And of that, 24,000 deserted. Mr. FURUSETH. Well, I do not know how many would be deserting because I did not get that exactly.
Senator REED of Pennsylvania. How many of those 24,000 reshipped? I suppose it is impossible to say.
Mr. FURUSETH. Yes. You see there are a lot of men that come under the name of seamen who never made a trip to sea before. They come only for that one trip. That is what the first section of the amendment is calculated to deal with. The other sections are calculated to stop the shipping companies from making a business of bringing them in at the rate of, say, 350 men and leaving with 325 or 250. One Greek vessel a couple of years ago came in with 400 men and left with 225. They leave behind them from 5 to 50 men every trip they make. Unless something is done to stop that thing somebody aboard the ships is going to continue making a lot of money, $1,000 a man. Therefore, as I suggested yesterday, you are closing the front door but leaving the side door open.
Mr. Parker, who is here, drew that amendment and if you will listen to him for a minute he will explain just what the amendment is.
Senator WILLIS. One of the sections in the amendment you referred to provides that a ship shall carry away as many seamen as it brings in. Do you not think that would very largely remedy the difficulty of which you complain?
Mr. FURUSETH. It would remedy it to some extent with respect to the European situation, but it would not remedy it with respect to the Asiatic situation.
Senator WILLIS. Why not?
Mr. FURUSETH. Because what they are really doing out there is taking away as many men probably as they bring in. How they arrange it is difficult to say, but what they are doing now is this: They bring in a big lot of men, more than they have any use for.
Senator Willis. So they bring in 350 and go away with 300?
Mr. FURUSETH. Of course, out of the 300 that they take away, some of them are men who were here and take the places of the Chinese who came. The Tongs who control these men take some men out of the ships and put others in; so you do not get rid of the difficulty of the exclusion problem.
Senator Willis. You do not get in any more Chinese; one comes in and another goes out.
Mr. FURUSETH. That would be the situation. This amendment would stop the population from being increased through the crews that are carried out. There is no question about that. In another case a ship came in with 54 extra Chinese that were stowaways. As long as they carry them you can not tell; they all look alike. The officers on board the ship have an opportunity to say they did not know when this vessel came in that 54 Chinese had landed at Seattle. The vessel was supposed to be fined $10,800 for bringing them in, but whether that fine was ever collected I do not know. Here is what the officers said: “We did not known they were there.” Of course they could have known it if they wanted to know, but to prove that they did know is difficult.
The CHAIRMAN. I understand that the bill now before the Senate—the Reed bill—would leave the alien seamen law as it is today, without change. In other words, I understand that the correction which was made in the Reed bill yesterday, pursuant to your suggestion, leaves the alien seamen law exactly as it stands to-day upon the statute books. Now, we have before us an amendmentthe King amendment–involving the changes which you suggest, and the question now before this committee is whether it will adopt the King amendment as a committee amendment, to be reported to the Senate as a committee amendment. Now, I understand that there is strong objection to the King amendment. The committee
. has not heard both sides fully on this question of the alien seamen. It is a broad question, involving many details. Now, the practical question before us here is if this committee takes time to go into the merits of the King amendment, will we not jeopardize the passage of the bill in the Senate?
It was the purpose this morning to see whether there was such opposition to the King amendment that it would involve the careful consideration of the committee. Now, I think it would be well, perhaps, if we should hear Mr. Parker for a few minutes, and then hear the opposition.
Senator WILLIS. Mr. Furuseth asked yesterday for permission to bring Mr. Parker, and I suggest that we give Mr. Parker a chance.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Parker, about how long do you think you will want?
Mr. PARKER. I guess, Senator, unless there are a great many questions to be asked, that I can get through in 15 minutes. STATEMENT OF MR. A. WARNER PARKER, ATTORNEY AT LAW,
WASHINGTON, D. C.
Senator King. Mr. Parker, there are two questions I desire to ask you about paragraph (e), which reads:
All vessels entering ports of the l'nited States manned with crews engaged and taken on at foreign ports shall, when departing from the United States, carry a crew of at least equal number, and any such vessel that fails to comply with this requirement shall be refused clearance.
One man said to me that ofttimes, through epidemic or disease or what not, part of the crew that came in and which might in good faith desire to return will be detained, and because of conditions over which they have no control the steamship company is unable to go out with the same number to take their place, as a result of which they have to leave often short-handed. This man said that this would work a very great hardship.
Secondly, a man asked me whether or not the provisions of the bill would apply to American boats. Suppose an American, flying the American flag, went to Japan or China with a cargo and there some of his sailors or seamen deserted. He makes every possible effort to secure persons who would be eligible for citizenship as seamen to make the return trip, but is unable to do so and finds that he can not leave unless he gets stray Chinamen, Japanese, or Hindus. Would that ship be debarred entrance into the port of the United States as flying the American flag?
Mr. PARKER. I will say for the information of the committee-I think some of the members do not know me—I am a practicing lawver in Washington and was engaged by Mr. Furuseth to draft this bill. I was for 15 years law officer of the Bureau of Immigration, and naturally a great many of these questions have come into my office since I have been practicing law-since August, 1919. Mr. Furuseth brought his ideas to me, which he had drafted in a memorandum, and asked me if I would put them into shape for introduction as an amendment to this bill. I saw on careful examination
of certain of his ideas that they did not fit into an immigration bill. They belonged in legislation dealing with seamen, from the seaman's point of view rather than the immigration point of view. I explained that to Mr. Furuseth, and he said, “All right; let us leave them alone.” I took the rest of them and put them into the shape in which you now find them.
Now, I have had a great deal of experience with the application of the immigration law to seamen. I had particular charge of that, as I had of all the legal matters throughout the country during the time when I was law officer of the bureau. We all realized when the act of 1917 was being passed, coming right on top of the La Follette bill, that there was going to be a great deal of difficulty with that question. There was not time at the time that that bill was being considered to go into it. In fact, we had no experience on which to go into it.
So those provisions of the 1917 act were passed in such shape as to leave it to the Secretary of Labor to make regulations, it being specified, however, that the regulations should be of such a character as not to interfere with the operation of the seamen's act. Then we proceeded, in the spring of 1917, to do the best we could with the regulations. One of the provisions that we adopted was this idea with regard to seamen's cards. That was not altogether a new idea. It followed along the general lines of the practice in England of furnishing the seamen with what they called a continuous discharge tag, in which the seamen is identified and described and which he carries with him always. Then the war came along and all kinds of additional problems arose with regard to seamen. We had to devise plans by cooperation with the Department of Justice, the State Department and other departments under which we could handle the seamen's business in such a way as not to allow alien enemies to get into the country. I think we did pretty well with it. I mention this as showing the evolution of the card proposition.
Sometime ago, two and one-half or three years, the department abandoned that system of cards. I think the excuse for doing so was the lack of appropriation, which the department is always up against more or less. So that the situation to-day, as I see it now, more from the outside than from the inside, is simply that any system of immigration control that you gentlemen may devise is going, it seems to me, to be largely ineffective if the side door is left open, as Mr. Furuseth aptly terms it. You have got coming right into our ports, right through doors where they can step right in,
about a million of these people every year. Some years there are more and some years there are less. Now, as the thing stands to-day, those men to a very large extent are examined rather cursorily on medical questions. Beyond that, they can go through. I am speaking now of European seamen. With regard to Asiatic seamen, the department has endeavored to exact a bond, which they fixed at the amount of $500. The upshot of that is that the Chinaman pays the $500 head tax and gets into the United States.
That kind of a system, if carried on, ought to be carried on frankly. Exact your head tax and get your Chinamen. Canada has been doing that, with the result that Čanada has gotten the money and we have gotten most of the Chinamen.
Now, as a lawyer who has handled a good many Chinese questions, and I am speaking now of a bona fide case, I know that any Chinaman is willing to pay $1,000 to get his son into the United States. It usually costs him that before he gets through with his medical examinations and treatments and then pays his attorneys for drawing up the papers. Now, under the arrangement that exists to-day with regard to Chinese seamen the man signs on the ship, he pays no fare, and he works his way to Seattle or San Francisco. Then a $500 bond is put up for him, and he can skip. Paying $500 is a cheap way of getting into the United States.
Now, these are some of the problems you have to deal with. Another one is the difficulty Mr. Furuseth spoke of, one that I tried my best to prevent while I was in the Immigration Bureau, that of bringing over these Chinese crews, carrying them to New York and holding them there on the vessel until the vessel was ready to go out.
The CHAIRMAX. Have you any idea what proportion of the seamen you spoke of would be oriental!
Mr. PARKER. I could only make a very rough guess. Certainly not over 25 per cent. Mr. FURUSETH. About 22 to 25
cent. The CHAIRMAN. Now, how do the others get in?
Mr. PARKER. They are examined medically; there is no bond required, and they go through under the La Follette Seamen's Act. They have a right to go through, ostensibly for the purpose of reshipping again, and a great many of the regular seamen do. They look for some other ship that suits them better.
The CHAIRMAN. Under what conditions do they go ashore ! ?
Mr. PARKER. None that really amount to anything. He is not even furnished with an identification card.
The CHAIRMAN. You say the landing card has been abandoned !
Mr. PARKER. Yes; except where a man is signing out of the foreign trade and going into the coast wise trade. Then they furnish that man with a card. However, as far as these thousands who are coming ashore in the regular pursuit of their calling—some of them bona fide seamen whom we do not need to fear at all as long as they are examined medically, but others merely pretending to be examined—there is no control of it, and there is no record of the man kept in such way as will locate and identify him.
The CHAIRMAN. Is that not due to the absence of regulations which the department has power to make under the act of 1917!
Mr. PARKER. I think they have power to make regulations of the kind we had before. Those regulations required a card.
Senator KING. Are there now effective administrative methods for the purpose of detecting and barring those who may come ashore and who do not reship in other vessels?
Mr. PARKER. No. You see, you have no basis for a follow-up system on them. If you have a duplicate of his card, with his photograph, in your files—I will give an illustration of a case I know about. One of the inspectors from the Bureau of Immigration not so long ago was sent up into northern Pennsylvania to make an investigation of a suspected violation of the alien contract labor laws. He