189 U.S. 86 (1903), 171, Japanese Immigrant Case

Docket Nº:No. 171
Citation:189 U.S. 86, 23 S.Ct. 611, 47 L.Ed. 721
Party Name:Japanese Immigrant Case
Case Date:April 06, 1903
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 86

189 U.S. 86 (1903)

23 S.Ct. 611, 47 L.Ed. 721

Japanese Immigrant Case

No. 171

United States Supreme Court

April 6, 1903

Argued February 24, 1903




1. As the existing treaty with Japan expressly excepts from its operation any regulation relating to police and public security, and as the various acts of Congress forbidding aliens of whatever country to enter the United States who are paupers or persons likely to become a public charge are regulations for police and public security, aliens from Japan of the prohibited class have no right to enter or reside in the United States.

Quaere whether, even in the absence of such a provision in the treaty, the "full liberty to enter, reside," etc., clause refers to that class in either country who from habits or conditions are the object of police regulations designed to protect the general public against contact with dangerous or improper persons.

2. It has been firmly established by numerous decisions of this Court that it is within the constitutional power of Congress to exclude aliens of a particular race from the United States, prescribe the terms and conditions upon which certain classes may come to this country, establish regulations for sending out of the country such aliens as come here in violation of law, and commit the enforcement of such provisions, conditions and regulations to executive officers, without judicial intervention.

3. An administrative officer, when executing the provisions of a statute involving the liberty of persons, may not disregard the fundamental principles of due process of law as understood at the time of the adoption of the Constitution. Nor is it competent for any executive officer at any time within the year limited by the statute, to arbitrarily cause an alien who has entered the country, and has become subject in all respects to its jurisdiction, and a part of its population, although illegally here, to be arrested and deported without giving such alien an opportunity, appropriate to the case, to be heard upon the questions involving his right to be and remain in the United States.

Where, however, the alien had notice, although not a formal one, the courts cannot interfere with the executive officers conducting it. The objections of the alien to the form of the investigation could have been presented to the officer having primary control of the case, or by an appeal to the Secretary of the Treasury, and the action of the executive officers is not subject to judicial review.

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This case presents some questions arising under the act of Congress relating to the exclusion of certain classes of alien immigrants.

On the 11th day of July, 1901, appellant, a subject of Japan, landed at the port of Seattle, Washington, and on or about July 15, 1901, the appellee, an immigrant inspector of the United States, having instituted an investigation into the circumstances of her entering the United States, decided that she came here in violation of law, in that she was a pauper and a person likely to become a public charge, aliens of that class being excluded altogether from this country by the Act of March 3, 1891, 26 Stat. 1085, c. 551.

The evidence obtained by the inspector was transmitted to the Secretary of the Treasury, who, under date of July 23, 1901, issued a warrant addressed to the immigrant inspector at Seattle, reciting that the appellant had come into the United States contrary to the provisions of the above act of 1891, and ordering that she be taken into custody and returned to Japan at the expense of the vessel importing her.

The inspector being about to execute this warrant, an application was presented in behalf of the appellant to the District Court of the United States for the District of Washington, Northern Division, for a writ of habeas corpus. The application alleged that the imprisonment of the petitioner was unlawful, and that she did not come here in violation of the act of 1891 or of any other law of the United States relating to the exclusion of aliens.

The writ having been issued, a return was made by the inspector stating that he had found upon due investigation and the admissions of the appellant that she was a pauper and a person likely to become a public charge, and had "surreptitiously, clandestinely, unlawfully, and without any authority come into the United States;" that, "in pursuance of said testimony, admissions of the petitioner, Kaoru Yamataya, evidence, facts, and circumstances," he had decided that she had no right to be within the Territory of the United States, and was a proper person for deportation, all which he reported to the proper officers of the government, who confirmed his decision,

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and thereupon the Secretary of the Treasury issued his warrant requiring the deportation of the appellant. That warrant was produced and made part of the return.

[23 S.Ct. 612] The return of the inspector was traversed, the traverse admitting that the inspector had investigated the case of the petitioner, and had made a finding that she had illegally come into this country, but alleging that the investigation was a "pretended" and an inadequate one; that she did not understand the English language, and did not know at the time that such investigation was with a view to her deportation from the country, and that the investigation was carried on without her having the assistance of counsel or friends, or an opportunity to show that she was not a pauper or likely to become a public charge. The traverse alleged that the petitioner was not in the United States in violation of law.

A demurrer to the traverse was sustained, the writ of habeas corpus was dismissed, and the appellant was remanded to the custody of the inspector. From that order, the present appeal was prosecuted.

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HARLAN, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE HARLAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

It will conduce to a clear understanding of the questions to be determined if we recall certain legislation of Congress relating to the exclusion of aliens from the United States, and to the Treaty of 1894 between Japan and the United States.

By the deficiency appropriation Act of October 19, 1888, c. 1210, it was provided that the Act of February 23, 1887, c. 220, amendatory of the act prohibiting the importation and immigration of foreigners and aliens under contract or agreement to perform labor in the United States, its territories, and the District of Columbia, 24 Stat. 414, be so amended

as to authorize the Secretary of the Treasury, in case he shall be satisfied that an immigrant has been allowed to land contrary to the prohibition of that law, to cause such immigrant, within the period of one year after landing or entry, to be taken into custody and returned to the country from whence he came at the expense of the owner of the importing vessel, or, if he entered from an adjoining country at the expense of the person previously contracting for the services.

25 Stat. 566.

By the first section of the Act of Congress of March 3, 1891, c. 551, amendatory of the various acts relating to immigration and importation of aliens under contract or agreement to perform labor, it was provided:

That the following classes of aliens shall be excluded from admission into the United States, in accordance with the existing acts regulating immigration, other than those concerning Chinese laborers: all idiots, insane persons, paupers, or persons likely to become a public charge, persons suffering from a loathsome or a dangerous contagious disease, persons who have been convicted of a felony or other infamous crime or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude, polygamists, and also any person whose ticket or passage is paid for with the money of another or who is assisted by others to come, unless it is affirmatively and satisfactorily shown, on

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special inquiry, that such person does not belong to one of the foregoing excluded classes, or to the class of contract laborers excluded by the Act of February twenty-sixth, eighteen hundred and eighty-five (23 Stat. 332). . . .

26 Stat. 1084.

By the eighth section of that act, it was provided:

That upon the arrival by water at any place within the United States of any alien immigrants, it shall be the duty of the commanding officer and the agents of the steam or sailing vessel by which they came to report the name, nationality, last residence, and destination of every such alien, before any of them are landed, to the proper inspection officers, who shall thereupon go or send competent assistants on board such vessel and there inspect all such...

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