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Passport Policy

April 24, 1957

Report Outline
Passports, Newsmen, and Foreign Travel
State Department Passport Procedures
Passport Controversies in the Courts

Passports, Newsmen, and Foreign Travel

Controversy Over Right of Newsmen to Visit China

State department objections, now apparently weakening, to granting passports to newsmen for travel to Red China have put a new angle on a running controversy over the government's power to limit foreign travel by American citizens. There have been numerous cases of late in which not only press representatives but also individuals of leftist bent have been unable to obtain the prescribed travel documents. In each case the Secretary of State has exercised only the long-accepted right to treat the issuance or withholding of passports as a matter within the discretion of the Executive Branch.

Decisions of lower federal courts have tended for some time to put certain bounds on the Secretary's authority in that respect. The question has not yet reached the Supreme Court, but appeals from several district court decisions are now pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Interest in the final outcome will be widespread, for the issues involved affect indirectly the freedom of all American citizens to travel to countries outside the Western Hemisphere.

The latest development in the travel-to-China controversy came Apr. 23, when Secretary Dulles told a news conference that the government was willing to let a limited number of newsmen visit China, provided that the ban on travel to that country by other Americans could be maintained. The problem arose last summer when the Chinese Communist government invited more than a dozen American correspondents to spend a month in China. The State Department concluded, however, that such a visit would not be in the best interests of the United States. It said, Aug. 7, that no passports would be issued for the purpose.

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