President Hoover’s Alien Registration Plan Alarms American Jewry: Protest Resolution Adopted by Hebr
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President Hoover’s Alien Registration Plan Alarms American Jewry: Protest Resolution Adopted by Hebr

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Resolutions protesting against the new immigration restrictions in the United States and against the proposal for the registration of aliens who are in the country contained in President Hoover’s message to Congress last week have been adopted at the annual conference of the Hias (Hebrew Immigrant Aid and Sheltering Society) held here to-day. The resolutions are to be presented to President Hoover and to the United States Congress in order to direct their attention to the alarm with which the Jewish population regards the proposed registration measure and the general anti-alien tendency shown in President Hoover’s recommendations to make the existing immigration restrictions still more drastic and to tighten up and strengthen the deportation laws.


What the registration of aliens would mean, in the opinion of the leaders of American Jewish life, including the late Louis Marshall, and the representative Jewish organisations such as the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, the Hias, the Independent Order B’nai B’rith, and the Jewish labour organisations, as well as the outstanding friends of liberalism in America, like Miss Jane Addams, who has just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her life-long humanitarian work, was made clear when the movement for alien registration in America was at its height in 1926.

A bill for the registration of aliens had been introduced into Congress in January of that year, by Congressman Aswell, which was generally regarded as embodying the ideas of the then Minister of Labour and Immigration, Mr. Davis, who has been the chief protagonist of the alien registration plan.

The chief provisions of the bill were: Every alien shall register within the time fixed by the President in a proclamation issued after the enactment of the bill, and every alien who enters the United States on or after the first day of registration shall be immediately registered in a like manner by the immigration officials at the place of entry.

Every alien shall, subsequent to the initial registration, register once each following calendar year. Upon the initial registration each alien from the age of 21 shall pay a fee of 10 dollars, and for each subsequent registration 5 dollars. For any alien between the ages of 16 and 21 the fee shall be 3 dollars. There is no fee for the registration of aliens under 16. The fee may be deferred for such a time as the secretary may by regulation subscribe in the case of any alien who is unable to pay the fee.

Whenever any alien permanently removes from the district in which he is registered, he shall report to the post office of his district and give such information in regard to his movements as may be required by regulation. He shall also, within two days after arriving in the district to which he moves, report to the post office of that district and give such information as may be required by regulation.


The bill provided that every alien shall, on demand at any time, exhibit his certificate of identification to any agent of the Department of Justice or of the Department of Labour or any State, territorial or local police or peace officer and to any other officer designated by the President. Each record of registration and certificate of identification shall contain the photograph, to be of uniform size and style, prescribed by regulation, supplied by the person registered. There shall be entered on the original and duplicate records of the registration of every alien a report of all arrests or convictions of such alien and charges upon which such arrests were made or convictions obtained, together with the final disposition of each case, and any other information, as specified by regulation, bearing upon the fitness of such alien for citizenship. Whenever the proprietor of any hotel, lodging house or boarding house, or an employer knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, that any person is an alien, he shall report this fact or belief and the exact time of arrival or beginning of employment to the post office or other proper authorities of the district in which he is situated. Any inspector or other person duly authorised shall have the authority to enter any place in which he knows or has reason to believe any alien is present and demand any information necessary to carry out the provisions of the act, and to arrest or detain any person who refuses entry or refuses to give such information.

Whoever fails to register will be punished by a fine of not more than 5,000 dollars or by imprisonment for not more than two years or by both. Punishment was also provided for violations of other provisions of the Act. Any alien who is sentenced to imprisonment for violation of any provision of the Act, it was further provided, shall upon the termination of his imprisonment, be immediately taken into custody and deported.


A protest meeting was immediately called by a joint committee consisting of representatives of the Conference on Immigration Policy, the Department of City, Immigration and Industrial Work, the Board of National Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, the Department of Immigration and Foreign Communities, the National Board of the Young Women’s Christian Associations, the Hias, the League for American Citizenship, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Department of Immigrant Aid of the National Council of Jewish

A resolution which was unanimously adopted, read: “Whereas the Alien Registration Bill and the Alien Deportation Bills now before Congress are contrary to the spirit of our Constitution and constitute a distinct departure from the uniform policy of our Government and its liberal traditions, and are a direct encroachment upon the liberties guaranteed by the Constitution to all persons residing in the United States, ### therefore, we, citizens of the United States, protest against the enactment of these bills into laws, and we do further resolve that a copy of this resolution be sent to the Committees on Immigration and Nationalisation of the United States Senate and of the House of Representatives”.


This measure has earned the condemnation of all liberal-minded persons who have studied it, Mr. Louis Marchall said in the course of his annual report that year to the American Jewish Committee, and many organisations have registered their protest against it, among them the League of Foreign-Born Citizens, the Council on Immigrant Education, the Salvation Army, the National Security League, the National Liberal Immigration League, the Young Women’s Christian Association, the National Catholic Welfare Association, and the Naturalisation Aid League, all of them bodies which come into close contact with the immigrant, understand his point of view and help him to adjust himself to his new environment.

The Chicago Immigrants’ Protective League, upon whose Board of Directors are such representative Americans as Miss Jane Addams, Miss Julia C. Lathrop, Miss Edith Abbot, and Professor Ernst Freund, he went on, filed with the Immigration Committee of the House of Representatives a statement of their objections to the proposed bill for the registration of aliens, in which they said:

First, we oppose such legislation because we believe it to be un-American in principle, since it introduced into our American life the discredited Russian and Prussian Imperial systems of espionage, with a resulting contempt for the poor. Second, enforcement will require a large and expensive army of federal officers who cannot be adequately supervised, and who will be subjected to all the dangers of corruption, special influence, and special pleading characteristic of similar sys-terms in Europe. Third, it extents to English, Irish, Scotch, Scandinavian, German, and all other immigrants the system heretofore used only for the Chinese, and we fear that the principal advocates of this measure in Congress are trying thus to carry even to the European immigrant, their attitude towards the oriental immigrant. Fourth, we object to the taxation imposed by this measure upon the alien residents of our country. Every immigrant is already charged a high head tax of 8 dollars to enter the United States. The imposition of an additional annual tax under the proposed registration system, violates our American principle of taxation, which seeks to avoid placing undue burddens upon the weakest and poorest members of the community, and, finally we are opposed to this measure because we believe it will create grave administration difficulties, will waste large sums of public moneyand will fail to secure the results desired.

The Union of American Hebrew Congregations, he added, also adopted resolutions expressing “its unqualified and emphatic disapproval of such measures, and of all invidious discrimination against, and segregation of, aliens”. Mr. Max J. Kohler, a member of the Committee, has collated the opinions of various public bodies and important individuals on this subject in a pamphlet entitled “The Registration of Aliens – A Dangerous Project”. Your Committee, he concluded, is determined to exert every effort to oppose this un-American measure should it be brought up for consideration in Congress.

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