245 U.S. 552 (1918), 586, United States v. Woo Jan

Docket Nº:No. 586
Citation:245 U.S. 552, 38 S.Ct. 207, 62 L.Ed. 466
Party Name:United States v. Woo Jan
Case Date:January 28, 1918
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 552

245 U.S. 552 (1918)

38 S.Ct. 207, 62 L.Ed. 466

United States

v.

Woo Jan

No. 586

United States Supreme Court

Jan. 28, 1918

Argued January 17, 1918

CERTIFICATE FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

Section 21 of the Immigration Act of February 20, 1907, c. 1134, 34 Stat. 898, empowers the Secretary of Labor, when satisfied that an alien has been found in the United States in violation of that act, or is subject to deportation under the provisions of that act or of any law of the United States, to cause such alien within the period of three years, etc., to be taken into custody and returned to the country whence he came; § 43, however, provides that the act shall not be construed to repeal, alter, or amend existing laws relating to the immigration or exclusion of Chinese persons or persons of Chinese descent. Held that § 43 preserves the judicial proceedings prescribed by the Chinese Exclusion acts for the cases to which those acts apply, and that, where the ground was a violation of the Exclusion Acts and not a violation of the Immigration Act, the summary administrative method provided by § 21 cannot be used. United States v. Wong You, 223 U.S. 67, distinguished.

The case is stated in the opinion.

MCKENNA, J., lead opinion

The Immigration Act of February 20, 1907, c. 1134, 34 Stat. 898, provides as follows:

Sec. 21. That, in case the Secretary of [Commerce and]

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Labor shall be satisfied that an alien has been found in the United States in violation of this Act, or that an alien is subject to deportation under the provisions of this act, or of any law of the United States [italics ours], he shall cause such alien within the period of three years after landing or entry to be taken into custody and returned to the country whence he came. . . .

It is provided, however (§ 43):

That this act shall not be construed to repeal, alter, or amend existing laws relating to the immigration or exclusion of Chinese persons or persons of Chinese descent. . . .

[38 S.Ct. 208] The relation of these sections has given rise to diversity of decision, district courts of different districts and circuit courts of appeals for different circuits being in opposition. Ex parte Woo Shing, 226 F. 141, sustains the power of the Secretary of Labor exercised under § 21, and the decision was approved by the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Lo Pong v. Dunn, 235 F. 510; Sibray v. United States, 227 F. 1. The power of the Secretary was denied in the instant case by the District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, 228 F. 927, and the decision has been followed by the circuit courts of appeals for the Seventh and Fifth Circuits. United States v. United States ex rel. Lem Him, 239 F. 1023; Lee Wong Hin v. Mayo, 240 F. 368.

The circuit court of appeals, reciting this diversity, certifies to this Court the following questions, "(a in the abstract, b concretely)":

(a) Has the Secretary of Labor, acting within three years from the last entry, jurisdiction to arrest and deport a Chinese alien upon the sole ground that he is found in this country in violation of the Chinese Exclusion Act?

(b) Are the facts stated in Woo Jan's petition and admitted by demurrer inconsistent with any jurisdiction in the Department of Labor to cause his arrest and deportation?

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The answer that is received to "(a)" determines the answer to "(b)." In other words, if the first be answered "No," the second will necessarily be answered "Yes," the second being, as indicated by the circuit court of appeals, the concrete application of the abstraction of the first.

The facts are these: the Secretary of Labor, attempting to exercise the power supposed to be conferred upon him by § 21, caused the arrest of Woo Jan as a Chinese alien unlawfully within the United States, with the view and purpose of deporting him. The warrant of arrest recited

that the said alien is unlawfully within the United States in that he is found therein in violation of the Chinese Exclusion Laws, and is therefore subject to deportation under the provisions of § 21

of the Act of Congress of February 20, 1907, amended by the Act of March 26, 1910. It was directed to the "Inspector in Charge, Cleveland, Ohio, or to any immigrant inspector in the service of the United States."

Woo Jan petitioned the district court in habeas corpus to be discharged from the arrest, asserting his right to be and remain in the United States and setting up as grounds of it that he was a merchant, and that his status as a resident had been investigated by the authorities of the United States and established, and that there was no authority of law for the issue of the warrant. To the petition the District Attorney demurred, and the court, holding that the warrant had been issued without authority of law, ordered the discharge of Woo Jan. The case therefore presents to us through the questions certified the validity of the judgment.

We are admonished at the outset by the diversity of opinion that there are grounds for opposing contentions. Indeed, §§ 21 and 43 seem to be, at first impression, in irreconcilable conflict. The declaration of § 21 is that the power of the Secretary of Labor shall extend to taking into custody and returning to the country from whence

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he came whoever is subject to deportation under the provisions "of any law of the United States." The...

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