Fong Yue Ting v. United States Wong Quan v. Same Lee Joe v. Same, s. 1,345

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Citation37 L.Ed. 905,149 U.S. 698,13 S.Ct. 1016
Docket Number1,347,Nos. 1,345,1,346,s. 1,345
Decision Date15 May 1893

Statement by Mr. Justice GRAY:

These were three writs of habeas corpus, granted by the circuit court of the United States for the southern district of New York, upon petitions of Chinese laborers arrested and held by the marshal of the district for not having certificates of residence, under section 6 of the act of May 5, 1892, c. 60, which is copied in the margin.1

The rules and regulations made and promulgated by the secretary of the treasury under section 7 of that act prescribe


United States at the time of the passage of this act; and if upon the hearing it shall appear that he is so entitled to a certificate, it shall be granted, upon his paying the cost. Should it appear that said Chinaman had procured a certificate which has been lost or destroyed, he shall be detained, and judgment suspended a reasonable time to enable him to procure a duplicate from the officer granting it; and in such cases the cost of said arrest and trial shall be in the discretion of the court. And any Chinese person other than a Chinese laborer, having a right to be and remain in the United States, desiring such certificate as evidence of such right, may apply for and receive the same without charge.

Sec. 7. That immediately after the passage of this act the secretary of the treasury shall make such rules and regulations as may be necessary for the efficient execution of this act, and shall prescribe the necessary forms and furnish the necessary blanks to enable collectors of internal revenue to issue the certificates required hereby, and make such provisions that certificates may be procured in localities convenient to the applicants. Such certificates shall be issued without charge to the applicant, and shall contain the name, age, local residence, and occupation of the applicant, and such other description of the applicant as shall be prescribed by the secretary of the treasury; and a duplicate thereof shall be filed in the office of the collector of internal revenue for the district within which such Chinaman makes application.

Sec. 8. That any person who shall knowingly and falsely alter or substitute any name for the name written in such certificate, or forge such certificate, or knowingly utter any forged or fraudulent certificate, or falsely personate any person named in such certificate, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be fined in a sum not exceeding one thousand dollars, or imprisoned in the penitentiary for a term of not more than five years.

Sec. 9. The secretary of the treasury may authorize the payment of such compensation in the nature of fees to the collectors of internal revenue, for services performed under the provisions of this act, in addition to salaries now allowed by law, as he shall deem necessary, not exceeding the sum of one dollar for each certificate issued forms for applications for certificates of residence, for affidavits in support thereof, and for the certificates themselves; contain the provisions copied in the margin;2 and also provide for recording duplicates of the certificates in the office of the collector of internal revenue.

The first petition alleged that the petitioner was a person of the Chinese race, born in China, and not a naturalized citizen of the United States; that in or before 1879 he came to the United States, with the intention of remaining and taking up his residence therein, and with no definite intention of returning to China, and had ever since been a permanent resident of the United States, and for more than a year last past had resided in the city, county, and state of New York, and within the second district for the collection of internal revenue in that state; that he had not, since the passage of the act of 1892, applied to the collector of internal revenue of that district for a certificate of residence, as required by section 6, and was, and always had been, without such certificate of residence; and that he was arrested by the marshal, claiming authority to do so under that section, without any writ or warrant. The return of the marshal stated that the petitioner was found by him within the jurisdiction of the United States and in the southern district of New York, without the certificate of residence required by that section; that he had, therefore, arrested him, with the purpose and intention of taking him before a United States judge within that district; and that the petitioner admitted to the marshal, in reply to questions put through an interpreter, that he was a Chinese laborer, and was without the required certificate of residence.

The second petition contained similar allegations, and further alleged that the petitioner was taken by the marshal before the district judge for the southern district of New York, and that 'the said United States judge, without any hearing of any kind, thereupon ordered that your petitioner be remanded to the custody of the marshal in and for the southern district of New York, and deported forthwith from the United States, as is provided in said act of May 5, 1892, all of which more fully appears by said order, a copy of which is hereto annexed and made a part hereof,' and which is copied in the margin;3 and that he was detained by virtue of the marshal's claim of authority and the judge's order. The marshal returned that he held the petitioner under that order.

In the third case the petition alleged, and the judge's order showed, the following state of facts: On April 11, 1893, the petitioner applied to the collector of internal revenue for a certificate of residence. The collector refused to give him a certificate, on the ground that the witnesses whom he produced to prove that he was entitled to the certificate were persons of the Chinese race, and not credible witnesses, and required of him to produce a witness other than a Chinaman to prove that he was entitled to the certificate, which he was unable to do, because there was no person other than one of the Chinese race who knew and could truthfully swear that he was lawfully within the United States on May 5, 1892, and then entitled to remain therein; and because of such unavoidable cause he was unable to produce a certificate of residence, and was now without one. The petitioner was arrested by the marshal, and taken before the judge, and clearly established to the satisfaction of the judge that he was unable to procure a certificate of residence by reason of the unavoidable cause aforesaid; and also established to the judge's satisfaction, by the testimony of a Chinese resident of New York, that the petitioner was a resident of the United States at the time of the passage of the act; but, having failed to establish this fact clearly to the satisfaction of the court by at least one credible white witness, as required by the statute, the judge ordered the petitioner to be remanded to the custody of the marshal, and to be deported from the United States, as provided in the act.

Each petition alleged that the petitioner was arrested and detained without due process of law, and that section 6 of the act of May 5, 1892, was unconstitutional and void.

In each case the circuit court, after a hearing upon the writ of habeas corpus and the return of the marshal, dismissed the writ of habeas corpus, and allowed an appeal of the petitioner to this court, and admitted him to bail pending the appeal. All the proceedings, from the arrest to the appeal, took place on May 6th Jos. H. Choate, J. Hubley Ashton, and Maxwell Evarts, for appellants.

Sol. Gen. Aldrich, for appellees.

Mr. Justice GRAY, after stating the facts, delivered the opinion of the court.

The general principles of public law which lie at the foundation of these cases are clearly established by previous judg- ments of this court, and by the authorities therein referred to.

In the recent case of Nishimura Ekiu v. U. S., 142 U. S. 651, 659, 12 Sup. Ct. Rep. 336, the court, in sustaining the action of the executive department, putting in force an act of congress for the exclusion of aliens, said: 'It is an accepted maxim of international law that every sovereign nation has the power, as inherent in sovereignty, and essential to self-preservation, to forbid the entrance of foreigners within its dominions, or to admit them only in such cases and upon such conditions as it may see fit to prescribc. In the United States this power is vested in the national government, to which the constitution has committed the entire control of international relations, in peace as well as in war. It belongs to the political department of the government, and may be exercised either through treaties made by the president and senate or through statutes enacted by congress.'

The same views were more fully expounded in the earlier case of Chae Chan Ping v. U. S., 130 U. S. 581, 9 Sup. Ct. Rep. 623, in which the validity of a former act of congress, excluding Chinese laborers from the United States, under the circumstances therein stated, was affirmed.

In the elaborate opinion delivered by Mr. Justice Field in behalf of the court it was said: 'Those laborers are not citizens of the United States; they are aliens. That the government of the United States, through the action of the legislative department, can exclude aliens from its territory, is a proposition which we do not think open to controversy. Jurisdiction over its own territory to that extent is an incident of every independent nation. It is a part of its independence. If it could not exclude aliens, it would be to that extent subject to the control of another power.' 'The United States, in their relation to foreign countries and their subjects or citizens, are one nation, invested with powers which belong to independent nations, the exercise of which can be invoked for...

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