Browse The Gjenvick-Gjønvik Archives Home Page

Immigration Archives - Immigration Laws - Handy Reference Guide For Steamship Captains

Immigration Laws, Synopsis of Regulations Prepared for Handy Reference on the Part of Masters of Vessels By FRED II. LYSONS, Attorney, Seattle, Wash.

Under the immigration laws of the United States. certain precautionary measures arc important to be observed by the masters of vessels bringing passengers to American ports. First of all, care must be had in the manner of soliciting patronage. The usual and customary methods of advertising by letters, circulars, or otherwise, the sailing dates of vessels, terms of passage and facilities of transportation are permitted, but they cannot go to the extent of soliciting, inviting, or encouraging, directly or indirectly, the immigration of aliens into the United States.

Nor may all aliens who offer themselves as passengers be received without question, idiots, imbeciles, feeble-minded, epileptics, insane, or those who have had one or more attacks of insanity; persons of constitutional psychopathic inferiority; those afflicted with chronic alcoholism; paupers, professional beggars. vagrants; those afflicted with tuberculosis or with any loathsome or dangerous contagious disease; persons mentally or physically deficient, to the extent that it may affect their ability to earn a living; persons who have been convicted of or admit having committed a felony or crime involving moral turpitude; polygamists or those who practice polygamy or believe in it; anarchists or those who believe in or advocate by violence of the Government of the United States or of all forms of law, or the unlawful destruction of property, or advocate the assassination of public officials; or those affiliated with any organization advocating any such measures; prostitutes or those coming here for any immoral purpose; those who procure or attempt to procure or import persons for the purpose of prostitution or any other immoral purpose, or who arc supported in whole or in part by the proceeds of prostitution.

Children under sixteen years of age not accompanied by or coming to one or both parents.

Contract laborers, except for skilled employment for which laborers cannot be found in this country; persons who come in consequence of advertisements in a foreign country for laborers; persons likely to become a public charge; those who have been deported under the immigration laws and who seek admission within one year after such deportation; persons whose passage is paid by any other person, association or foreign government.

All Chinese laborers; and unless otherwise provided by existing treaties persons who arc natives of foreign islands south of the 20th parallel latitude north, west of the 160th meridian of longitude cast, and north of the 10th parallel of latitude south; or who arc natives of any country in the continent of Asia west of the 110th meridian and east of the 50th meridian and south of the 50th parallel of latitude north, except that portion situated between the 50th and 64th meridians of longitude and the 24th and 38th parallels of latitude north.

Excepted from the excluding provisions of this paragraph are Government officers, ministers, missionaries,. lawyers, physicians, chemists, civil engineers, teachers, students, authors, artists, merchants, and travelers for curiosity or pleasure and their legal wives and children under sixteen years of age who shall accompany them.

What is known as a literacy test is applied to immigrant applicants for admission, those being rejected who are unable to read in some language or dialect; but excepted from this literacy test are applicants 16 years of age or under, also aliens coming here to avoid religious persecution in the country of their last permanent residence.

As to aliens who are accepted as passengers: Eight dollars must be added to the passage money of each, or otherwise collected from them as head tax, to be paid by the master, agent, owner, or consignee of the vessel to the collector of customs at the port of arrival and which, if not paid, constitutes a lien upon the vessel and a debt against the owner of the vessel in favor of the United States Government. Immigrants 16 years or under are not subject to this head tax.

Excepted also from the head tax requirements are aliens entering the United States from Canada, New Foundland, Cuba or Mexico, whose bona fide residence was in one of these countries for at least one year immediately preceding such entry; citizens of Canada, New Foundland, Cuba, or Mexico, who are returning from a visit to one of those countries, having theretofore acquired a legal domicile in the United States; admissible residents of any possession of the United States; aliens in transit through the United States; aliens arriving in Guam, Porto Rico or Hawaii; aliens visiting the United States as tourists on business or pleasure; seamen landing in pursuit of their calling.

As to alien passengers of the excepted classes, however, the law seems to require a deposit of the head tax to the collector of customs, the same to be refunded when the classification of the aliens, as exempt, is established.

The master of the vessel shall deliver to the im- migration officers at the port of arrival lists verified by himself, or the first or second officer, and the surgeon of the vessel, of the manifests made on embarkation, giving full personal description of each alien and all information required by such officer under the immigration laws. This verification shall be to the effect that they have found by examination and investigation that none of the said aliens arc within any of the enumerated excluded classes.

These aliens shall be listed in convenient groups, no list to contain more than thirty names and each alien shall be given a ticket numbered and arranged to facilitate convenient identification. Chinese aliens arc required to be listed separately from others.

This information covers a vast amount of detail and it will be advisable for the master of the vessel to procure blanks, which are provided for that purpose by the United States Immigration Department.

Aliens brought to the United States in violation of law shall be returned to the country whence they came, the expenses thereof, including their maintenance while on land, to be borne by the vessel on which they Caine. For the purpose of facilitating such return and the deportation of aliens generally, masters of vessels carrying passengers are required to give to the immigration authorities at the port of departure, twenty-four hours' advance notice of their sailing.

Heavy penalties, varying from a fine to imprison- ment and, in certain cases, denial of clearance papers to the vessel, are provided for violation of any of these requirements.

In addition to the general immigration laws many war time regulations are still in effect, and in any case of doubt the master of the vessel should consult the United States Consul at the port of embarkation of any immigrant.


Return to Top of Page