Statement on Signing the Alien Registration Act.
The Alien Registration Act of 1940, which I have just signed, should be interpreted and administered as a program designed not only for the protection of the country but also for the protection of the loyal aliens who are its guests. The registration and identification of approximately three and one-half million aliens who are now within our borders do not carry with them any stigma or implication of hostility towards those who, while they may not be citizens, are loyal to this country and its institutions.
Most of the aliens in this country are people who came here because they believed and had faith in the principles of American democracy, and they are entitled to and must receive full protection of the law. It is of the utmost importance to the security of the country that the program of alien control shall be carried out with a high sense of responsibility. It would be unfortunate if, in the course of this regulative program, any loyal aliens were subjected to harassment.
The only effective system of control over aliens in this country must come from the Federal Government alone. This is as true from a practical point of view as it is from a legal and constitutional point of view. Since Congress, by this Act, has attempted to provide a single and uniform method of handling the difficult problem of alien registration in this country, it seems to me that attempts by the States or communities to deal with the problem individually will result in undesirable confusion and duplication.
I ask that citizens and non-citizens alike cooperate with a full sense of the responsibilities involved so that we may accomplish this task of registration smoothly, quickly and in a friendly manner, our aim being to preserve and build up the loyalty and confidence of those aliens within our borders who desire to be faithful to its principles. With those aliens who are disloyal and are bent on harm to this country, the Government, through its law enforcement agencies, can and will deal vigorously.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Statement on Signing the Alien Registration Act. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/209766