Kaoru Yamataya v. Thomas Fisher

Decision Date06 April 1903
Docket NumberNo. 171,171
Citation47 L.Ed. 721,189 U.S. 86,23 S.Ct. 611
PartiesKAORU YAMATAYA, Appt. , v. THOMAS M. FISHER, Immigrant and Chinese Inspector
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

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 15th, 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 3d, 1891 (26 Stat. at L. 1085, chap. 551, U. S. Comp. Stat. 1901, p. 1294).

The evidence obtained by the inspector was transmitted to the Secretary of the Treasury, who, under date of July 23d, 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 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.

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.

Messrs. Vere Goldthwaite, Harold Preston, and Walter A. Keene for appellant.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 88-92 intentionally omitted] Assistant Attorney General Hoyt for appellee.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 92-94 intentionally omitted] 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 19th, 1888, chap. 1210, it was provided that the act of February 23d, 1887, chap. 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. at L. 414, U. S. Comp. Stat. 1901, p. 1292), 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. at L. 566 (U. S. Comp. Stat. 1901, p. 1294).

By the 1st section of the act of Congress of March 3d, 1891, chap. 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 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. at L. 332, chap. 164, U. S. Comp. Stat. 1901, p. 1290]. . . .' 26 Stat. at L. 1084 (U. S. Comp. Stat. 1901, p. 1294).

By the 8th 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 aliens, or the inspection officers may order a temporary removal of such aliens for examination at a designated time and place, and then and there detain them until a thorough inspection is made. . . . The inspection officers and their assistants shall have power to administer oaths, and to take and consider testimony touching the right of any such aliens to enter the United States, all of which shall be entered of record. During such inspection, after temporary removal, the superintendent shall cause such aliens to be properly housed, fed, and cared for, and also, in his discretion, such as are delayed in proceeding to their destination after inspection. All decisions made by the inspection officers or their assistants touching the right of any alien to land, when adverse to such right, shall be final unless appeal be taken to the superintendent of immigration, whose action shall be subject to review by the Secretary of the Treasury. It shall be the duty of the aforesaid officers and agents of such vessel to adopt due precautions to prevent the landing of any alien immigrant at any place or time other than that designated by the inspection officers, and any such officer or agent or person in charge of such vessel who shall, either knowingly or negligently, land or permit to land any alien immigrant at any place or time other than that designated by the inspection officers, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and punished by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars, or by imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment.' 26 Stat. at L. 1085 (U. S. Comp. Stat. 1901, p. 1298).

By the 10th section it is provided that 'all aliens who may unlawfully come to the United States shall, if practicable, be immediately sent back on the vessel by which they were brought in.'

The 11th section of the same act provided: 'That any alien who shall come into the United States in violation of law may be returned as by law provided, at any time within one year thereafter, at the expense of the person or persons, vessel, transportation company, or corporation bringing such alien into the United States, and, if that cannot be done, then at the expense of the United States; and any alien who becomes a public charge within one year after his arrival in the United States, from as causes existing prior to his landing therein, shall be deemed to have come in violation of law, and shall be returned as aforesaid.' 26 Stat. at L. 1086 (U. S. Comp. Stat. 1901, p. 1299).

In the sundry civil appropriation act of August 18th, 1894, chap. 301, was the following provision: 'In every case where an alien is excluded from admission into the United States under any law or treaty now existing or hereafter made, the decision of the appropriate immigration or customs officers, if adverse to the admission of such alien, shall be final, unless reversed on appeal to the Secretary of the Treasury.' 28 Stat. at L. 372, 390 (U. S. Comp. Stat. 1901, p. 1303).

Then came the treaty between the United States and the Empire of Japan, concluded November 23d, 1894, and proclaimed March 21st, 1895, and which, by its terms, was to go into operation July 17th, 1899. By the 1st article of that treaty it was provided: 'The citizens or subjects of each...

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