Galvan v. Press

Decision Date24 May 1954
Docket NumberNo. 407,407
Citation74 S.Ct. 737,347 U.S. 522,98 L.Ed. 911
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Messrs Harry Wolpin and A. L. Wirin, Los Angeles, for petitioner.

Mr. Oscar H. Davis, Washington, D.C., for respondent.

Mr. Justice FRANKFURTER delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioner, an alien of Mexican birth, first entered the United States in 1918 and has since resided here with only occasional brief visits to his native country. In the course of two questionings, in March 1948, by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, he indicated that he had been a member of the Communist Party from 1944 to 1946. In March of 1949, the petitioner was served with a deportation warrant, and on the same day a preliminary deportation hearing was held to acquaint him with the charges against him—that after entry he had become a member of an organization which advocated the violent overthrow of the United States Government, and of an organization which distributed material so advocating. In December 1950, petitioner had a de novo hearing at which the transcripts of all earlier proceedings were, by agreement, made part of the record. Shortly after the hearing commenced, the examining officer lodged the additional charge against the petitioner that after entry he had been a member of the Communist Party, membership in which had been made a specific ground for deportation by the Internal Security Act of 1950, 64 Stat. 987, 1006, 1008.

At this final hearing the evidence against the petitioner was derived from two principal sources. The first was his own testimony during the two interrogations by immigration authorities in 1948. During those interrogations, he had testified as to the time and place he had joined the Communist Party, talked freely about his membership in the Party, and indicated generally that the distinction between the Party and other groups was clear in his mind; he had explained that the reason he had not applied for naturalization was that he feared his former Party membership might be revealed, and had offered to make amends by rejoining the Party as an undercover agent for the Government. At the hearing in December of 1950, petitioner denied that in his prior hearing he had admitted joining the Party, insisting that at the time he thought the question related to labor union activities. In response to a question whether he had ever attended meetings of the Spanish Speaking Club, an alleged Communist Party unit, he replied: 'The only meetings I attended were relating to the Fair Employment Practices Committee.'

The second source of information was the testimony of a Mrs. Meza to the effect that she had been present when petitioner was elected an officer of the Spanish Speaking Club. Petitioner denied the truth of this and other statements of Mrs. Meza calculated to establish his active participation in the Communist Party and said: 'She must have been under great strain to imagine all those things.'

The Hearing Officer found that petitioner had been a member of the Communist Party from 1944 to 1946 and ordered him deported on that specific ground. He did not deem it necessary to make findings on the more general charges contained in the original warrant. The Hearing Officer's decision was adopted by the Assistant Commissioner and an appeal was dismissed by the Board of Immigration Appeals. A petition for a writ of habeas corpus was denied by the District Court, and the dismissal was affirmed by the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. 201 F.2d 302.

On certiorari, petitioner challenged the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain deportation under § 22 of the Internal Security Act of 1950 and attacked the validity of the Act as applied to him.1 These are issues that raise the constitutionality and construction of the 1950 Act for the first time and so we granted certiorari. 346 U.S. 812, 74 S.Ct. 53.

Petitioner's contention that there was not sufficient evidence to support the deportation order brings into question the scope of the word 'member' as used by Congress in the enactment of 1950, whereby it required deportation of any alien who at the time of entering the United States, or at any time thereafter, was a 'member' of the Communist Party.2 We are urged to construe the Act as providing for the deportation only of those aliens who joined the Communist Party fully conscious of its advocacy of violence, and who, by so joining, thereby committed themselves to this violent purpose.

But the Act itself appears to preclude an interpretation which would require proof that an alien had joined the Communist Party with full appreciation of its purposes and program. In the same section under which the petitioner's deportation is sought here as a former Communist Party member, there is another provision, subsection (2)(E),* which requires the exclusion or deportation of aliens who are 'members of or affiliated with' an organization required to register under the Internal Security Act of 1950,3 'unless such aliens establish that they did not know or have reason to believe at the time they became members of or affiliated with such an organization * * * that such organization was a Communist organization.' 64 Stat. 1007. In describing the purpose of this clause, Senator McCarran, the Act's sponsor, said: 'Aliens who were innocent dupes when they joined a Communist Front organization, as distinguished from a Communist political organization (such as the Communist Party), would likewise not ipso facto be excluded or deported.' 96 Cong.Rec. 14180. In view of this specific escape provision for members of other organizations, it seems clear that Congress did not exempt 'innocent' members of the Communist Party.

While the legislative history of the 1950 Act is not illuminating on the scope of 'member,' considerable light was shed by authoritative comment in the debates on the statute which Congress enacted in 1951 to correct what it regarded as the unduly expanded interpretation by the Attorney General of 'member' under the 1950 Act. 65 Stat. 28.** The amendatory statute dealt with certain specific situations which had been brought to the attention of Congress and provided that where aliens had joined a proscribed organization (1) when they were children, (2) by operation of law, or (3) to obtain the necessities of life, they were not to be deemed to have been 'members.' In explaining the measure, its sponsor, Senator McCarran, stated repeatedly and emphatically that 'member' was intended to have the same meaning in the 1950 Act as had been given it by the courts and administrative agencies since 1918, 97 Cong.Rec. 2368—2374. See S.Rep. No. 111, 82d Cong., 1st Sess. 2; H.R.Rep. No. 118, 82d Cong., 1st Sess. 2. To illustrate what 'member' did not cover he inserted in the Record a memorandum containing the following language quoted from Colyer v. Skeffington, D.C., 265 F. 17, 72: 'Congress could not have intended to authorize the wholesale deportation of aliens who, accidentally, artificially, or unconsciously in appearance only, are found to be members of or affiliated with an organization of whose platform and purposes they have no real knowledge.' 97 Cong.Rec. 2373.

This memorandum, as a weighty gloss on what Congress wrote, indicates that Congress did not provide that the three types of situations it enumerated in the 1951 corrective statute should be the only instances where membership is so nominal as to keep an alien out of the deportable class. For example, the circumstances under which the finding of membership was rejected in Colyer v. Skeffington, supra, would not have been covered by the specific language in the 1951 Act. In that case, the aliens passed 'from one organization into another, supposing the change to be a mere change of name, and that by assenting to membership in the new organization they had not really changed their affiliations or political or economic activities.' 265 F. at 72.

On the other hand, the repeated statements that 'member' was to have the same meaning under the 1950 Act as previously, preclude an interpretation limited to those who were fully cognizant of the Party's advocacy of violence. For the judicial and administrative decisions prior to 1950 do not exempt aliens who joined an organization unaware of its program and purposes. See Kjar v. Doak, 7 Cir., 61 F.2d 566; Greco v. Haff, 9 Cir., 63 F.2d 863; In the matter of O.—-, 3. I. & N. Dec. 736.

It must be concluded, therefore, that support, or even demonstrated knowledge, of the Communist Party's advocacy of violence was not intended to be a prerequisite to deportation. It is enough that the alien joined the Party, aware that he was joining an organization known as the Communist Party which operates as a distinct and active political organization, and that he did so of his own free will. A fair reading of the legislation requires that this scope be given to what Congress enacted in 1950, however severe the consequences and whatever view one may have of the wisdom of the means which Congress employed to meet its desired end.

On this basis, the Hearing Officer's finding that petitioner here was a 'member' of the Communist Party must be sustained. Petitioner does not claim that he joined the Party 'accidentally, artificially, or unconsciously in appearance only,' to use the words in Senator McCarran's memorandum. The two points on which he bases his defense against the deportation order are, first, that he did not join the Party at all, and that if he did join, he was unaware of the Party's true purposes and program. The evidence which must have been believed and relied upon for the Hearing Officer's finding that petitioner was a 'member' is that petitioner was asked to join the Party by a man he assumed to be an organizer, that he attended a number of meetings and that he did not apply for citizenship because he feared his Party membership would become known to the authorities. In addition, on...

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