« AnteriorContinuar »
Germans, and may still regard themselves as Germans under this law, this new theory of citizenship deserves all the public attention it has received. How imperfectly the treaties, which are not “disturbed,” protect the United States from the secret application of this dual conception of citizenship becomes evident when we ask ourselves, What is the substance of these treaties? The first article of the treaty with the North German Confederation reads:
Citizens of the North German Confederation, who become naturalized citizens of the United States of America and shall have resided uninterruptedly within the United States five years, shall be held by the North German Confederation to be American citizens, and shall be treated as such.
A reciprocal agreement is made regarding citizens of the United States naturalized in Germany.
But what protection does this engagement afford against dual citizenship? Until this conception was brought into public controversy, it was probably never doubted that German citizenship and American citizenship are mutually exclusive; that is, that one can not be a German and an American at the same time. By every canon of sound judgment, when a person becomes an American citizen he ceases to be a German. The whole meaning and value of nationality turn upon that distinction. A “German-American" is a political impossibility. A choice, free from all ambiguity, must be made, or citizenship does not exist at all. To profess to be both German and American is an act of equivocation that obscures the claim to be an American citizen in any acceptable sense. But what security against this consequence is afforded by these treaties, which "remain undisturbed," if by private understanding between the person and the Imperial Government an original German citizenship also remains not only “undisturbed" but specifically legalized by German law?
If, as alleged, this dual citizenship was not intended to be applied in the United States, where was it intended to be applied? For what reason? In what conditions? Neither in this law itself, nor in any treaty with the United States, is this dual citizenship expressly excluded from application. The language regarding the effect of treaties employed in section 36 of the law is obviously vague and equivocal. The treaties themselves contain no definition of citizenship. If it was intended in drafting this German law to give assurance that dual citizenship would not be applied when naturalization treaties existed, why were not these treaties specified, or why was not language employed
that would make it perfectly plain that where such treaties previously existed the idea of duality could not and would not be applied? Why could it not have been stated plainly in this law, for example, when Germans become citizens in other countries where naturalization treaties exist, German citizenship wholly terminates with naturalization?
But there is still another method mentioned in this law of being and not being a citizen at the same time. “Citizenship is lost,” according to section 17 of this German law, "by expatriation." But section 20 reads as follows:
Expatriation in one Federal State effects simultaneous expatriation in every other Federal State, unless the expatriated person reserves citizenship in another State by declaration before the competent authorities of the State granting expatriation.
A Prussian, under this section, it would seem, might "lose citizenship” in Germany by expatriation from Prussia, and at the same time regain it by reserving citizenship, let us say, in Saxony or Bavaria, or, better still, in Alsace-Lorraine, which has no treaty with the United States. If such a person should go to the United States and become naturalized as an American citizen, he would no longer be a Prussian; but he might, under the dual citizenship theory, be a Saxon or a Bavarian, or an Alsatian. In either case he would still be a German; for, by section 1 of this law, “A German is one who has citizenship in a Federal State or direct Imperial citizenship."
There remains the provision for acquiring this "direct Imperial citizenship,” which applies to any person of German descent, no matter how far removed from an original German ancestor, or how long his forefathers may have lived in a foreign land. No residence or return to Germany is necessary for this restoration to German citizenship.
Paragraph 2 of section 33 reads:
Direct Imperial citizenship may be granted to a former German, who has not taken up his residence in Germany; the same applies to one who is descended from a former German or has been adopted as a child of such.
Such are the various provisions for retaining or reacquiring German citizenship. No one of them appears to demand any publicity in the country where the person has been naturalized and continues to reside. He may, therefore, possess and exhibit American naturalization papers, and may at the same time possess and conceal a German certificate of citizenship.
It would be unjust to conclude without evidence that naturalized American citizens of German origin have availed themselves of the Imperial provisions for dual citizenship, or would approve of this principle. Many of these citizens have come to this country, or are descended from those who have come, for the purpose of liberating themselves from German laws. Others, who came for different reasons, have acquired a sincere affection for American institutions. The loyalty of these excellent citizens is not impugned by anything in these comments, although the disloyalty of some naturalized citizens is assumed by the German lawmakers, who propose an equivocal allegiance. Whether the German law of dual citizenship has actually been applied in this country, and if so to what extent, are questions that lie outside the province of these comments. It is, however, evident from the purpose and provisions of the law itself and from the absence of effective limitation to its operation, that the door is open to a secret divided allegiance that may be extremely dangerous to the United States.
This danger, it is contended, is wholly imaginary; for the petition for American naturalization contains a sworn statement, that the petitioner renounces "absolutely and forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince," etc. "Absolutely and forever" must be taken, however, cum grano salis; for the petitioner is conceded the right, if he chooses, to resume his former nationality. But even allowing this pledge all possible force and validity, whoever appeals to this formula to prove that dual citizenship is innocuous to the United States seems to admit that the German law leaves open a door to the danger of double citizenship which is closed only by the American formula of naturalization. It is then not in the German law, nor yet in treaties, but in the honor of individuals and the vigilance of American law and administration that we must place our trust.
DAVID JAYNE HILL.
THE TRADING-WITH-THE-ENEMY ACT
The purpose of the Trading-with-the-Enemy Act, approved October 6, 1917, as stated in the report of the Senate Committee on Commerce recommending its adoption, is to mitigate the rules of law which prohibit all intercourse between the citizens of warring nations and to
permit, under careful safeguards and restrictions, such business intercourse as may be helpful to our own interests, conserving and utilizing but not confiscating enemy property found within the United States, and leaving to the courts and to future action of Congress the adjustment of rights and claims arising from such transactions.
Before taking up the terms of the Act, attention is called to the legal principles underlying legislation on this subject in its relation to international law, and these principles are so clearly stated by Assistant Attorney General Warren in the hearings before Congress that it is a pleasure to quote the following extract from his statement:
The question of what constitutes trade with the enemy and what constitutes an enemy within the purview of illegal trade are settled by the decisions of the English and of the American courts. These decisions constitute part of the common law of both countries. Strictly speaking, they are not founded on international law. They are purely domestic decisions, founded on such view of public policy as the courts of each country decide to adopt, paying attention, however, to the general consensus of other countries as to what shall constitute a wise public policy in dealings affecting outside countries.
It follows that when the legislature of a country enacts a statute relative to trade with the enemy containing provisions differing from the law laid down by the courts, it is not violating or departing from international law. It is simply expressing its views as to the need of change in the domestic law of the country. Each country must decide for itself what it shall regard as unlawful trade with the enemy, and also what persons it shall regard, for the purposes of such trade, as enemy.
Changes in economic, commercial, financial, military, naval, and political conditions may make it highly necessary that doctrines as to trade with the enemy laid down by our courts a century ago should be modified by the legislature either by making them more stringent or less stringent, according to the needs and conditions of the present day. The complexity of modern business demands far greater stringency in certain directions than the old cases decided by the courts provided for. On the other hand, the more enlightened views of the present day as to treatment of enemies makes possible certain relaxations in the old law.
Turning to the provisions of the Act, it appears that they are conveniently classified under five general divisions; the first defining the meaning of the word “enemy" and "trading" and other words as used in the Act, together with the transactions forbidden as unlawful, unless performed under licenses; the second giving the President discretionary power to suspend the provisions of the Act and providing for the licensing under this power of acts otherwise unlawful, if not incompatible with public interests; the third providing for the care and administration of the property and property rights of enemies and their allies during the war; the fourth, dealing with patents, trade
marks and copyrights, and the licensing of enemy interests therein; and the fifth dealing with certain administrative requirements relating to the clearance of vessels, the export of gold and silver and other moneys; penalties for violation of the act; the jurisdiction of the United States courts for its enforcement, and the indirectly related question of foreign language publications.
Examining the Act in detail, it will be found that by Section 2, the expression “enemy,” as used in the Act and in relation to enemy trading, has the technical meaning of any individual or body of individuals of any nationality resident or incorporated or doing business in the territory of any nation with which the United States is at war, or in territory of an ally of such nation, and may, by proclamation of the President, be extended to include any individual or body of individuals of enemy nationality wherever resident and wherever doing business, if the President shall find that the safety of the United States or the successful prosecution of the war shall so require.
Under this definition, individuals of enemy nationality residing in the United States, and corporations chartered in the United States, notwithstanding the nationality of the stockholders thereof, do not come within the purview of the term "enemy" unless so proclaimed by the President. It is understood, however, that the existence of enemy interests in such corporations is regarded by the Alien Property Custodian as justifying the designation of a representative to act for him on behalf of such interests. The importance of exercising control over these interests is clear.
The meaning of the words "to trade," as used in the Act, is also defined in Section 2, both specifically and generally, the general definition, which seems to include all of the others, being “to have any form of business or commercial communication or intercourse."
The forms of trading declared to be unlawful are set forth in Section 3, but it is further provided in Section 7 (b) that the enumeration of unlawful transactions in the Act shall not be construed as rendering legal any transactions which would be held illegal independently of the Act, unless expressly permitted under the terms of the Act, and Section 5 authorizes the President to issue licenses permitting the performance of such transactions.
It is impossible within the limits of an editorial comment to present adequately the interesting questions suggested by the very elaborate provisions of this Act, which comprises in all nineteen sections and as