344 U.S. 590 (1953), 17, Kwong Hai Chew v. Colding

Docket Nº:No. 17
Citation:344 U.S. 590, 73 S.Ct. 472, 97 L.Ed. 576
Party Name:Kwong Hai Chew v. Colding
Case Date:February 09, 1953
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 590

344 U.S. 590 (1953)

73 S.Ct. 472, 97 L.Ed. 576

Kwong Hai Chew

v.

Colding

No. 17

United States Supreme Court

Feb. 9, 1953

Argued October 17, 1952

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT

Syllabus

1. Under 8 CFR § 175.57(b), a regulation pertaining to the entry of aliens into the United States, the Attorney General has no authority to deny to an alien who is a lawful permanent resident of the United States, and who is continuously residing and physically present therein, an opportunity to be heard in opposition to an order for his "permanent exclusion" and consequent deportation, even when the Attorney General determines that the order is based on information of a confidential nature the disclosure of which would be prejudicial to the public interest. Pp. 591-600.

(a) Knauff v. Shaughnessy, 338 U.S. 537, distinguished. Page 596.

(b) The term "excludable," in § 175.57(b), is inapplicable to aliens who are lawful permanent residents physically present within the United States. P. 599.

(c) Nothing in the statute or the Presidential Proclamations under which this regulation was issued requires or permits a broader interpretation of this section. Pp. 599-600.

2. Petitioner is an alien and a lawful permanent resident of the United States, who currently maintains his residence in the United States and usually is physically present there. While returning from a voyage to foreign ports as a seaman on a vessel of American registry with its home port in the United States, he was detained on board by an order of the Attorney General and ordered "temporarily excluded" from the United States under 8 CFR § 175.57, as an alien whose entry was deemed prejudicial to the public interest. He was denied a hearing by the Attorney General on the ground that the order was based on information of a confidential nature, the disclosure of which would be prejudicial to the public interest, and he was ordered to be permanently excluded from the United States.

Held: petitioner's detention, without notice of any charges against him and without opportunity to be heard in opposition to them, was not authorized by 8 CFR § 175.57(b). Pp. 600-603.

192 F.2d 1009, reversed.

Page 591

Petitioner's application for a writ of habeas corpus was dismissed by the District Court. 97 F.Supp. 592. The Court of Appeals affirmed. 192 F.2d 1009. This Court granted certiorari. 343 U.S. 933. Reversed and remanded, p. 603.

BURTON, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE BURTON delivered the opinion of the Court.

A preliminary consideration that is helpful to the solution of this litigation is whether, under 8 CFR § 175.57(b),1 the Attorney General has authority to deny to [73 S.Ct. 475] a lawful permanent resident of the United States,

Page 592

who is an alien continuously residing and physically present therein, the opportunity to be heard in opposition to an order for his "permanent exclusion" and consequent deportation, provided the Attorney General determines that the order is based on information of a confidential nature, the disclosure of which would be prejudicial to the public interest. Assuming, as seems to be clear, that the Attorney General does not have such authority, the critical issue then presented is whether he has that authority under the following additional circumstances: the resident alien is a seaman, he currently maintains his residence in the United States and usually is physically present there; however, he is returning from a voyage as a seaman on a vessel of American registry with its home port in the United States, that voyage has included scheduled calls at foreign ports in the Far East, and he is detained on board by order of the Attorney General. For the reasons hereafter stated, we hold that these additional circumstances do not change the result, and that the Attorney General does not have the authority suggested.

Petitioner, Kwong Hai Chew, is a Chinese seaman last admitted to the United States in 1945. Thereafter, he married a native American and bought the home in which they reside in New York. Having proved his good moral character for the preceding five years, petitioner secured suspension of his deportation. In 1949, he was admitted to permanent residence in the United

Page 593

States as of January 10, 1945.2 In World War II, he served with credit [73 S.Ct. 476] in the United States Merchant Marine. He never has had any difficulty with governmental authorities. In April, 1950, he filed a petition for naturalization

Page 594

which is still pending. In November, 1950, he was screened and passed by the Coast Guard for employment as a seaman on a merchant vessel.3 In the same month, he signed articles of employment as chief steward on the S.S. Sir John Franklin, a vessel of American registry with its home port in New York City. The voyage was to include calls at several foreign ports in the Far East. He remained aboard the vessel on this voyage, but at San Francisco, in March, 1951, the immigration

Page 595

inspector ordered him "temporarily excluded," under 8 CFR § 175.57, as an alien whose entry was deemed prejudicial to the public interest.

On the vessel's arrival in New York, March 29, petitioner's "temporary exclusion" was continued, and he was not permitted to land. March 30, he sought a writ of habeas corpus from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, charging that his detention was arbitrary and capricious and a denial of due process of law in violation of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Purporting to act under 8 CFR § 175.57(b), the Attorney General directed that petitioner be denied a hearing before a Board of Special Inquiry and that his "temporary exclusion be made permanent." The Attorney General continues to deny petitioner all information as to the nature and cause of any accusations against him and all opportunity to be heard in opposition to the order for his "exclusion." He is detained at Ellis Island "for safekeeping on behalf of the master of the S.S. Sir John Franklin."

The writ was issued, but, after a hearing, it was dismissed by the District Court. 97 F.Supp. 592. The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed. 192 F.2d 1009. Both courts relied upon Knauff v. Shaughnessy, 338 U.S. 537. We granted certiorari because of the doubtful applicability of that [73 S.Ct. 477] decision and the importance of the issue in the administration of the Nation's immigration and naturalization program. 343 U.S. 933. Bail was denied by the District Court. 98 F.Supp. 717. It also was denied by the Court of Appeals, without prejudice to an application to this Court. Applications for bail are pending before the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization and this Court.

The issue is petitioner's detention, without notice of any charge against him and without opportunity to be heard in opposition thereto. Petitioner contends that

Page 596

such detention is not authorized by 8 CFR § 175.57(b). He contends also that, if that regulation does purport to authorize such detention, the regulation is invalid as an attempt to deprive him of his liberty without due process of law in violation of the Fifth Amendment. Agreement with petitioners first contention makes it unnecessary to reach his second.

The case of Knauff v. Shaughnessy, supra, relied upon below, is not in point. It relates to the rights of an alien entrant, and does not deal with the question of a resident alien's right to be heard. For purposes of his constitutional right to due process, we assimilate petitioner's status to that of an alien continuously residing and physically present in the United States.4 To simplify the issue, we consider first what would have been his constitutional right to a hearing had he not undertaken his voyage to foreign ports, but had remained continuously within the territorial boundaries of the United States.

1. It is well established that, if an alien is a lawful permanent resident of the United States and remains physically present there, he is a person within the protection of the Fifth Amendment. He may not be deprived of his life, liberty or property without due process of law.5

Page 597

Although it later may be established, as respondents [73 S.Ct. 478] contend, that petitioner can be expelled and deported, yet, before his expulsion, he is entitled to notice of the nature of the charge and a hearing at least before an executive or administrative tribunal.6 Although Congress may prescribe

Page 598

conditions for his expulsion and deportation, not even Congress may expel him without allowing him a fair opportunity to be heard.7 For example, he is entitled to a fair chance to prove mistaken identity. At the present stage of the instant case, the issue is not one of exclusion, expulsion, or deportation. It is one of legislative construction and of procedural due process.8

This being recognized, we interpret this regulation as making no attempt to question a resident alien's constitutional

Page 599

right to due process. Section 175.57(b) uses the term "excludable" in designating the aliens to which it applies. That term relates naturally to entrant aliens and to those assimilated to their status. The regulation nowhere refers to the expulsion of aliens, which is the term that would apply naturally to aliens who are lawful permanent residents physically present within the United States. Accordingly, we find no language in the regulation that would have required its application to petitioner had he [73 S.Ct. 479] remained continuously and physically within the United States.9 It thus seems clear that the Attorney General would not have had the authority to deny to petitioner a hearing in opposition to such an order as was here made, provided petitioner had remained within the United States.

The regulation before us was issued by the Secretary of State and...

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