B-127558, APR. 27, 1956

B-127558: Apr 27, 1956

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FOREIGN CLAIMS SETTLEMENT COMMISSION OF THE UNITED STATES: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 9. WHICH WERE ERRONEOUSLY DISALLOWED PRIOR TO MARCH 31. IT IS STATED THAT THE LIQUIDATING FUNCTIONS HAVE BEEN SUBSTANTIALLY COMPLETED BUT THAT CERTAIN CLAIMS INVOLVE QUESTIONS WHICH WERE NOT RESOLVED BY OUR PREVIOUS DECISIONS. PERTAINING TO CERTAIN CIVILIAN AMERICAN CITIZENS WHO WERE INTERNED BY THE ENEMY OR WENT INTO HIDING TO AVOID INTERNMENT DURING WORLD WAR II. THE CLAIM WAS THEREFORE DISALLOWED FOR THE REASON THAT THE EVIDENCE DID NOT ESTABLISH CITIZENSHIP OF THE CLAIMANT FOR THE PERIOD FOR WHICH BENEFITS WERE CLAIMED. IT IS STATED THAT IT NOW APPEARS FROM A RECENT REPORT ISSUED BY THE SERVICE THAT IT HAS BEEN DETERMINED THAT THE CLAIMANT ACQUIRED CITIZENSHIP OF THE UNITED STATES AT BIRTH.

B-127558, APR. 27, 1956

TO THE HONORABLE WHITNEY GILLILLAND, CHAIRMAN, FOREIGN CLAIMS SETTLEMENT COMMISSION OF THE UNITED STATES:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 9, 1956, REQUESTING A DECISION AS TO WHETHER THE FOREIGN CLAIMS SETTLEMENT COMMISSION MAY CERTIFY FOR PAYMENT CERTAIN CLAIMS FILED PURSUANT TO SECTIONS 5 AND 6 OF THE WAR CLAIMS ACT OF 1948, 62 STAT. 1243, 1244, AS AMENDED, WHICH WERE ERRONEOUSLY DISALLOWED PRIOR TO MARCH 31, 1955.

YOU REFER TO OUR DECISIONS OF DECEMBER 30, 1954, B-122156, AND JUNE 9, 1955, B-107200, RELATING TO THE AUTHORITY OF THE COMMISSION TO PERFORM CERTAIN LIQUIDATING FUNCTIONS SUBSEQUENT TO MARCH 31, 1955, RESPECTING CLAIMS FILED PURSUANT TO SECTIONS 5 AND 6 OF THE ACT. IT IS STATED THAT THE LIQUIDATING FUNCTIONS HAVE BEEN SUBSTANTIALLY COMPLETED BUT THAT CERTAIN CLAIMS INVOLVE QUESTIONS WHICH WERE NOT RESOLVED BY OUR PREVIOUS DECISIONS. AN EXAMPLE OF SUCH A CLAIM, AS DESCRIBED IN YOUR LETTER, CONCERNS A CLAIMANT UNDER SECTION 5 (A) THROUGH (E) OF THE WAR CLAIMS ACT OF 1948, AS AMENDED, PERTAINING TO CERTAIN CIVILIAN AMERICAN CITIZENS WHO WERE INTERNED BY THE ENEMY OR WENT INTO HIDING TO AVOID INTERNMENT DURING WORLD WAR II. THE RECORD CONTAINS SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE TO ESTABLISH COMPLIANCE WITH EVERY PREREQUISITE FOR ENTITLEMENT EXCEPT CITIZENSHIP, CONCERNING WHICH AN OFFICIAL REPORT OF THE IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE INDICATES THAT CLAIMANT BECAME A NATURALIZED CITIZEN OF THE UNITED STATES IN 1949. THE CLAIM WAS THEREFORE DISALLOWED FOR THE REASON THAT THE EVIDENCE DID NOT ESTABLISH CITIZENSHIP OF THE CLAIMANT FOR THE PERIOD FOR WHICH BENEFITS WERE CLAIMED. HOWEVER, IT IS STATED THAT IT NOW APPEARS FROM A RECENT REPORT ISSUED BY THE SERVICE THAT IT HAS BEEN DETERMINED THAT THE CLAIMANT ACQUIRED CITIZENSHIP OF THE UNITED STATES AT BIRTH.

IT IS STATED IN YOUR LETTER THAT THE COMMISSION GENERALLY ACCEPTED AND RELIED UPON REPORTS FROM THE IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE AS THE BASIS FOR SETTLING CLAIMS UNDER THE STATUTE INASMUCH AS THE SERVICE HAD MORE INTIMATE KNOWLEDGE AND ALMOST EXCLUSIVE JURISDICTION OVER MATTERS PERTAINING TO NATIONALITY, AND THAT, IF THE ORIGINAL REPORTS HAD BEEN OTHERWISE, AWARDS WOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED TO THE CLAIMANTS. IN SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES IT IS STATED TO BE THE OPINION OF THE COMMISSION THAT THE COMPUTATION OF AN AWARD AT THE RATES PRESCRIBED IN THE STATUTE MAY BE DEEMED TO BE A MINISTERIAL ACT WHICH MAY BE PERFORMED DURING THE NORMAL COURSE OF BUSINESS. THE FOLLOWING QUESTION IS THEREFORE PRESENTED FOR OUR CONSIDERATION:

"MAY THE FOREIGN CLAIMS SETTLEMENT COMMISSION CERTIFY FOR PAYMENT AFTER MARCH 31, 1955, AWARDS IN AMOUNTS COMPUTED AT THE STATUTORY RATES, BASED UPON CLAIMS IN WHICH THE SOLE ISSUE RELATED TO NATIONALITY AND WITH RESPECT TO WHICH THE COMMISSION IS OFFICIALLY ADVISED, SUBSEQUENT TO MARCH 31, 1955, BY THE IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE THAT ITS PREVIOUS NEGATIVE CERTIFICATIONS HAVE BEEN CHANGED TO POSITIVE ONES?

WHILE MARCH 31, 1955, HAS CONSISTENTLY BEEN VIEWED AS THE DATE FOR THE COMPLETION OF THE ADJUDICATION OF CLAIMS FILED PURSUANT TO THE BASIC ACT, AND ITS AMENDMENTS PRIOR TO THE ENACTMENT OF PUBLIC LAW 615, APPROVED AUGUST 21, 1954, 68 STAT. 759, THE JURISDICTION OF THE COMMISSION OVER ACTIONS NECESSARY TO ACCOMPLISH THE ORDERLY COMPLETION OF THE CLAIMS PROGRAM WAS RECOGNIZED IN OUR DECISION OF JUNE 9, 1955, B-107200. CORRECT AND JUST SETTLEMENT OF CLAIMS SUCH AS HERE INVOLVED WOULD APPEAR TO BE ESSENTIAL TO ACCOMPLISH AN ORDERLY COMPLETION OF THE PROGRAM. ACCORDINGLY, AND SINCE ADMINISTRATIVE AUTHORITIES HAVE POWER TO MODIFY DETERMINATIONS ON THE GROUND OF MISTAKE OR NEWLY DISCOVERED EVIDENCE (LANE V. UNITED STATES, 241 U.S. 201), YOUR QUESTION IS ANSWERED IN THE AFFIRMATIVE.