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with what great particularity they have attempted to prevent them.
In a letter to the Auditor dated April 14, 1904, filed with certificate No. 46863, claimant said:
"By order of the State Department I ceased collecting fees in rupees at their bullion value on the 21st May, 1903."
This indicates that the rulings of the Auditor are in consonance with the views of the State Department and that the latter found it necessary to issue a special order to this consul relating to this obnoxious practice.
The Auditor, in his report on these appeals, reports that two claims have been presented for refundment of this consul's overcollections of fees on invoices in 1902, one of which has been settled and paid. The other has not yet been settled and presumably is held up awaiting the determination of these appeals.
It is clear to me that every rupee collected by this consul belonged to his Government and that it was his duty to convert them into sovereigns, the monetary unit of India, and then into United States money, and account for them accordingly. To allow him to collect them at their bullion value and at that rate to convert them into United States money, without any relation to the monetary unit of India, would in effect be to compel shippers to pay on each invoice $2.50 for the Government and upwards of $1.41 to the consul, a personal profit to the latter of more than 50 per cent of the legal fee, and this, too, in face of the fact that it is the policy of his Government not to allow its salaried consuls to make any profit out of strictly official services.
I find no error in the Auditor's action, and his disallowance of this item is also affirmed.
Item 6: Undercredit of commissions collected from estate of Mrs. Francina Morey, $5.54.
The Auditor's statement of differences as to this item is as follows:
"Undercredit of fees collected, estate of Mrs. Francina Morey. Amount cash rupees 945.88, equal at rate of $0.324 to $306.46, 5 per cent of which amounts to $15.32. Consul credits $9.80 by reason of undervaluation of rupee at $0.207 (difference charged and disallowed) $5.54."
With respect to this difference, consul in a letter to the Auditor dated April 14, 1904, filed with certificate No. 46863, said:
"The amount credited to (the) Government as fees on account of the estate of Mrs. Francina Morey was in error.
She was my wife, and I was acting privately in a fiduciary character for her heirs. I trust that it will be found that the amount, $9.80, should be reimbursed to me."
By paragraph 521, Consular Regulations of 1896, all fees growing out of the possession and settlement of estates of citizens of the United States dying abroad are official and must be accounted for, but upon a careful reading of Article XXIII of those regulations, it does not seem to me that the services rendered by this consul in connection with the money left by his deceased wife fall within the limitations of said article, or that they were official within its provisions; therefore, I think the fact that he acted in a private fiduciary capacity for her heirs, of whom he as her husband was one receiving one-half, while the others were her (and his) children and received the other half, is sufficient to warrant the allowance of the $5.54 charged against him by the Auditor.
As to the $9.80, however, I am without jurisdiction. The account in which it was credited by the consul, quarter ending September 30, 1902, was settled May 15, 1903 (Certificate No. 37145), and this $9.80 finally passed to the credit of the United States; therefore, these appeals having been filed more than a year (October 18, 1904) after said final settlement, I am, under the limitations of section 8 of the act of July 31, 1894 (28 Stat., 208), without authority to revise the Auditor's action thereon. The Auditor, however, if he so desires, may take such action relative thereto as in his judgment the facts of the case require or may warrant. (Campbell's case, 4 Comp. Dec., 303.)
The action of the Auditor in charging claimant with the said item of $5.54 is overruled, and it will be allowed and credited on revision of the account in which it was finally charged. (No. 47255, dated August 5, 1904.)
Item 7: Claims on account of Point de Galle Agency fees, $301.93.
I have been unable to find any authority whatever for this claim against the United States.
The consul cites paragraph 567, Consular Regulations of 1896, as his authority for making the charge. This paragraph, however, relates only to the disposition of surplus fees and the manner of stating and rendering accounts generally. It has no connection whatever with fees earned at agencies.
The general rule is that receipts from consular agencies are not to be counted as part of consul's fixed compensation, but that in addition to salaries they are entitled to one-half of the fees earned at such agencies, provided that they do not exceed $1,000 a year (par. 510, Id.), and that consular agents must render their accounts to their principal consular officers (par. 576, Id.). Also, consular officers may require bonds of consular agents under their supervision (par. 45, Id.).
The manner of rendering agency accounts, as shown by the accounts now under consideration, is for the agent to state the entire amount of fees collected during the quarter, retain one-half for his own services (par. 510, supra), and transmit the remainder to the consul; so when these accounts came to him the consul knew how much he was entitled to and whether the agent had actually transmitted it. As, for instance, in the account for the quarter ending June 30, 1903, the agent collected $30, of which he retained $15, and discharged himself of the balance, as follows: "Amount remitted to United States consul at Colombo, being the remainder of the official fees collected, $15," and this $15 forms a part of the $301.93 charged by the consul and disallowed by the Auditor.
If the consular agent did what he said he did, this charge would appear to be in the nature of a double charge by the consul, or claim for moneys already had and received by him, but however this may be, I do not think the Government liable to this claimant for any fees collected by the agent at Point de Galle Agency; and the Auditor's disallowance of this item is also affirmed.
Item 8: Debit error in addition, $1. This is a patent error, and the Auditor's disallowance thereof is affirmed.
Item 9: Gain by exchange, $0.76.
This disallowance is based upon the same conditions as set out in item 1, supra, and for the reasons there given it is also affirmed.
EXPENSE OF DEPORTING ALIENS WHO HAVE BECOME A PUBLIC CHARGE.
Under the provision in the act of March 3, 1903, that any person bringing an alien into the United States shall, upon the deportation of such alien as a public charge, be liable for "one-half of the cost of inland transportation to the port of deportation," a steamship company is liable not merely for one-half the price of a railroad ticket, but for onehalf the actual cost of such inland transportation.
(Comptroller Tracewell to W. L. Soleau, disbursing clerk, December 21, 1904.)
In your communication of December 16, 1904, you request my decision of a question which you therein present as follows:
"The voucher submitted by George E. Schubert, inspector in the Immigration Service, in the sum of one hundred and eleven and seventy-five one-hundredths dollars ($111.75), which has been approved by the Commissioner-General of Immigration, is transmitted herewith for your decision as to whether the steamship company should be charged with eleven and fifty one-hundredths dollars ($11.50) or nine and fifty one-hundredths dollars ($9.50) on account of the inland transportation of the alien Ivar Wastenius.
"Inspector Schubert was directed to take three immigrants from Chicago, Ill., for deportation, two under the law to be deported from the port of New York and the other from the port of Boston, Mass. Had the alien to be deported from Boston been taken by the shortest and most direct route the expense would have been nineteen dollars ($19.00), half of which is payable by the steamship company under section 20 of the act of March 3, 1903, entitled An act to regulate the immigration of aliens into the United States.' It being necessary to take the alien by way of New York City, half of the expense of transportation in this particular case is eleven and fifty one-hundredths dollars ($11.50).”
In a memorandum by the Commissioner-General of Immigration, transmitted by you, he says:
"The alien Ivar Wastenius arrived at the port of Boston May 19, 1904, and under ordinary circumstances his deportation would have been accomplished by travel from Chicago to the port of entry direct at an expense of $19.00 for inland transportation. Of this amount, $9.50 would have been chargeable against the steamship company responsible in accordance with the act of March 3, 1903.
"At the time the authority for deportation was issued, how
ever, the Chicago office had two other cases for deportation via the port of New York and in order to save expense to the Government, the alien Wastenius was taken to New York in company with the two other aliens, and from thence to Boston, at an additional cost of $5.00 over the fare of $18.00, Chicago to New York. Of the total amount, or $23.00, $9.50 was charged against the steamship company and $13.50 against the Government, the Bureau believing it was only right and proper to levy against the steamship company one-half of the amount of a straight ticket from Chicago to Boston."
In order to give practical effect to the immigration laws the Government in the first instance must pay these inland expenses of transportation as a whole, and hence it is your duty as a disbursing officer to pay this voucher, if the items of expense are correct, regardless of the fact whether the amount properly chargeable to the steamship company under section 20 of the immigration laws is reimbursed to the Government or not. The persons who bore the expense of transporting these three immigrants are not dependent for their reimbursement upon the fact of the amount of the ultimate liability of the steamship company.
Your submission is written upon the theory that a steamship company is liable, under the provisions of section 20 of the act to regulate immigration of aliens into the United States (32 Stat., 1218), to pay one-half only of the cost of a ticket from the place where land transportation commences to the port from which deportation commences by the usual and ordinarily traveled routes between said points. This section provides:
"That any alien who shall come into the United States in violation of law, or who shall be found a public charge therein, from causes existing prior to landing, shall be deported as hereinafter provided to the country whence he came at any time within two years after arrival at the expense, including one-half of the cost of inland transportation to the port of deportation, of the person bringing such alien into the United States, or, if that can not be done, then at the expense of the immigrant fund referred to in section one of this act.
It is reasonably clear, when this section is read in connection with and as a part of the entire act, that the words "at the expense, including one-half of the cost of inland transportation to port of deportation, of the person bringing such alien into the United States," are used in the same general sense as