MEMORANDUMEver since the Immigration Restriction Act came into force in 1901 strong representations have from time to time been made to the Department regarding the applica-tion of that law to persons of Syrian race. The Syrian people in Australia have contended that there is no justification for the Department's attitude which they claim places them in this connection on the same plane as the Chinese, Japanese, Hindoos and other Eastern people whose entry into the Commonwealth they understood the passage of the Immigration Restriction Act was mainly intended to prevent. 

The Department has had considerable dealings with Syrians of all classes in connection with the administration of the Act and has found them almost without exception reliable and trustworthy. Many of them are married to Australian women and have established very good businesses throughout the Commonwealth giving much employment to Australians. They all belong tb the Christian faith. The Department has from time to time granted authority to certain resident Syrians to bring their wives or other female relatives to Australia and some of these who have been brought to the Department subsequently were as fair-skinned as any woman to be met in our oven cities. So far as Syrian men are concerned, they are dark, but not more so than the Italians, Spaniards and Greeks and if it were not for the fact that the Syrians disclose their race on going on board ship en route to Australia, they would easily pass muster with nationals of the countries just mentioned. They hold that they belong to the Caucasian stock and that therefore the fact that they have been born on Asiatic soil should not stamp them as "Asiatics" in the general acceptation of that term as understood in connection with the ad-ministration of the Act. Instances have come under the notice of the Department where different members of the same family have been born, some in Turkey in Europe, and some in Syria (Turkey in Asia), the former being eligible to secure naturalization as Europeans while the others born in Syria are debarred from securing that privilege on account of the Asia-tic birth. These people make a strong protest that so much difference is shown in administration on the point whether a man is born on one side of the Bosphorus or the other. It has also come under notice on more than one occasion that certain members of Syrian families became naturalised before the Commonwealth Act came into force, but applications by the other members of the family since the Common-wealth Act became law have had to be refused resulting in what is regarded by the unsuccessful applicants as unfair discrimination against them, it being difficult for such persons to understand why their immediate blood relatives should hc:ve the right of obtaining a pension, joining military forces, etc. and they themselves should be debarred from so doing. It may be mentioned that the same question as is involved in this matter presented itself in the United States of America some few years ago when the Syrian people contested it in the Law Courts, when it was held that Syrians were Caucasians and that consequently the law did not debar them from securing naturalisation. It is understood that there have however been other cases taken to court by Syrians in the U.S.A. in which they have failed to satisfy the Court as to their eligibility to become naturalised. In 1909 when Mr Batchelor was Minister for External Affairs he gave this question very full consideration, principally in regard to the naturalisation side of it. Having so he was of opinion that Syrians should certainly be permitted to become naturalised, his contention being that persons permitted to remain in Australia should be entitled to all the privileges of local citizenship as they were required to accept their full share of responsibility, taxation etc. It had been Mr Batchelor's intention to have the matter submitted to Cabinet but just at that time the Government went out of office. The attached letter addressed to the A.N.A. in Perth sets out very fully Mr Batchelor's views on the subject. Before the Immigration Restriction Act came into force there was no restriction on the admission of Syrians to Victoria but it is understood that in other parts of Australia there was a restriction which was introduced shortly before Federation. Perhaps if any modification of the existing practice in administering the Immigration Act is contemplated the position of relatives of persons resident in Australia might be given first consideration. It may be mentioned that the Syrian community of Melbourne has during the recent war crisis shown considerable public spiritedness some of the younger Australian born members of the community having joined the expeditionary forces while others have contributed large sums towards the relief funds.
Chief Clerk, 27/10/14.
Some weeks ago Mr Jaboor, one of the leading Syrian business men in Melbourne when calling at the Department said to me that the Syrian community intended asking the Minister a little later to receive a representative deputation which was desirous of making representations regarding the position of Syrians under the Australian law.

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