Samuel Lewis v. Oliver Frick

Decision Date06 April 1914
Docket NumberNo. 208,208
Citation58 L.Ed. 967,34 S.Ct. 488,233 U.S. 291
PartiesSAMUEL LEWIS, Petitioner, v. G. OLIVER FRICK, United States Immigration Inspector, etc
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Messrs. Guy W. Moore, Philip T. Van Zile, Frederic S. Florian, and H. P. Wilson for petitioner.

Assistant Attorney General Wallace for respondent.

Mr. Justice Pitney delivered the opinion of the court:

Petitioner is an alien and a native of Russia. He came thence to this country, entering at the port of New York, in the month of September, 1904, lived in or near New York city until March, 1901, then removed to Detroit, Michigan, and has since made that city his home. On November 17, 1910, he crossed the river from Detroit to Windsor, Canada, and brought back with him into the United States a woman, avowed by him to be his wife, but whose actual status was questioned, as will appear. A few days later he was arrested upon a warrant from the Department of Commerce and Labor, issued under the immigration act of February 20, 1907 [34 Stat. at L. 898, chap. 1134] as amended March 26, 1910 [36 Stat. at L. 263, chap. 128, U. S. Comp. Stat. Supp. 1911, p. 501], and after a hearing conducted by an inspector, the Secretary, on February 14, 1911, found 'that said alien is a member of the excluded classes, in that he . . . procured, imported, and brought into the United States a woman for an immoral purpose,' etc., and thereupon ordered that he be deported to the country whence he came, to wit, Russia.

Meanwhile, he was indicted in the United States district court for a violation of § 3 of the act, the charge being that on the occasion above referred to he knowingly imported an alien woman from a foreign country for an immoral purpose, to wit, illicit concubinage and cohabitation. The trial of the indictment resulted, on March 23, 1911, in a verdict of not guilty.

On April 13th petitioner, being in custody under the deportation warrant, sued out a writ of habeas corpus from the United States circuit court. Appended to his petition for the writ was a copy of the record of his examination by the inspector, including the testimony and a list of exhibits, but not the exhibits themselves. In his answer the immigration inspector set up the warrant of deportation as his authority for detaining petitioner, and recited the arrest and examination, and the finding of the Secretary of Commerce and Labor.

The circuit court held that there was no authority in the immigration law for deporting an alien because he had imported a woman for immoral purposes; that such importation might be fully proved, or, indeed, might be admitted by the alien, and still the Department of Commerce and Labor would be without jurisdiction to deport; that it had such jurisdiction only under § 3 of the act, and only in case of conviction; that because by § 3 Congress provided that where the woman imported is an alien and the person importing is an alien, a felony is committed, and the person convicted of this felony may be deported, therefore under the ordinary rules of statutory construction it must be held that out of the general class covered by § 2 Congress had selected a particular class named in § 3, and subjected it to a severe punishment, but in connection therewith had limited the right to deport to cases where there was a conviction. That the right to prosecute criminally and the right to deport are inconsistent as concurrent rights, and cannot both be exercised at the same time; and that Congress saw the necessity of making the proceedings successive, and clearly made the second step depend upon the result of the first. Hence, an order was made for the discharge of petitioner. 189 Fed. 146.

Upon appeal, the circuit court of appeals reversed this judgment (115 C. C. A. 493, 195 Fed. 693), holding that the power to deport an alien existed under §§ 2 and 21 of the act, irrespective of § 3; and further that the right to deport in this case could be found in § 3 in connection with § 21, without regard to conviction or acquittal under § 3. The court also held that the acquittal of Lewis was not res judicata of the present proceeding, and that since there was evidence tending to support the finding of the Secretary of Commerce and Labor respecting the bringing in of the woman for the purpose of prostitution, that finding was conclusive. And, finally, it sustained the deportation of petitioner to Russia rather than to Canada, holding that the former was 'the country whence he came,' within the meaning of the act.

The provisions that are especially pertinent are set forth in the margin.

'An Act To Regulate the Immigration of Aliens into the United States,' approved February 20, 1907, chap. 1134, 34 Stat. at L. 898, as amended by act of March 26, 1910, chap. 128, 36 Stat. at L. 263, U. S. Comp. Stat. Supp. 1911, p. 501.

'Sec. 2. That the following classes of aliens shall be excluded from admission into the United States . . . persons who procure or attempt to bring in prostitutes, or women or girls for the purpose of prostitution, or for any other immoral purpose. . . .

'Sec. 3. That the importation into the United States of any alien for the purpose of prostitution or for any other immoral purpose is hereby forbidden; and whoever shall, directly or indirectly, import, or attempt to import, into the United States, any alien for the purpose of prostitution or for any other immoral purpose, . . . shall, in every such case, be deemed guilty of a felony, and on conviction thereof be imprisoned not more than ten years and pay a fine of not more than five thousand dollars. . . . Any alien who shall be convicted under any of the provisions of this section shall, at the expiration of his sentence, be taken into custody and returned to the country whence he came, or of which he is a subject or a citizen, in the manner provided in sections twenty and twenty-one of this act. . . .

The decision of the circuit court of appeals is attacked here on several grounds. The first is based upon the fact that the alien had an established domicil and residence in the United States dating from September 20, 1904, having obtained his admission into the country legally, and maintained a domicil here continuously from the date of his entry until the time of his arrest; and it is insisted that the fact of his having crossed the river to Canada, even though it was done with the object of bringing a woman into this country for the purpose of prostitution, did not bring him within the reach of the immigration act, or subject him to the summary procedure therein prescribed.

This question is settled adversely to the contention of petitioner by out recent decision in Lapina v. Williams, 232 U. S. 78, 58 L. ed. ——, 34 Sup. Ct. Rep. 196. That case arose under the act of February 20, 1907, while this arises under the same act as amended March 26, 1910. But the changes are not such as to affect the authority of that decision upon the present point.

In Lapina v. Williams it did appear that the alien had practised prostitution for many years before her temporary departure from the country, and that she not only returned with the intent to continue the practice, but did almost immediately engage in it, and continued it until her arrest under the provisions of the immigration act. But the real ground of decision was that Congress, in the act of 1903 [32 Stat. at L. 1213, chap. 1012], sufficiently expressed, and in the act of 1907 reiterated, the purpose of extending the prohibition against the admission of aliens of certain classes, and the mandate for their deportation, to all aliens within the descriptive terms of the excluding clause, irrespective of any qualification arising out of a previous residence or domicil in this country. This view was based (a) upon the legislative history of the act of 1903 (from which the material provisions of the 1907 act were taken), which was a re-enactment of previous laws, but with the deliberate omission of the word 'immigrant' and of certain other qualifying phrases that had been construed by the courts as giving so limited meaning to the word 'alien' as not to include aliens previously resident in this country, and who had temporarily departed with the intention of returning; (b) upon the clear language of the excluding clause of § 2 of the act of 1907 (quoted in full, 232 U. S. 91, 34 Sup. Ct. Rep. 200); (c) upon the fact that none of the excluded classes (with the possible exception of contract laborers) would be any less undesirable if previously domiciled in the United States; and (d) upon the fact that the section contains its own specific provisos and limitations, which, upon familiar principles, tend to negative any other and implied exception.

We hold, therefore, that the fact that the petitioner, Lewis, had been domiciled for six years or more in this country, he remaining still an alien, did not change his status so as to exempt him from the operation of the immigration act; and that if he departed from the country, even for a brief space of time, and on re-entering brought into the country a woman for the purpose of prostitution or other immoral purpose, he subjected himself to the operation of the clauses of the act that relate to the exclusion and deportation of aliens, the same as if he had had no previous residence or domicil in this country. In short, the period of three years from entry, prescribed by §§ 20 and 21, runs not from the date when the alien first entered the country, but from the time of the prohibited entry; that is to say, in the present case, the entry made by the alien when bringing in the woman.

The next question is whether there was sufficient evidence to fairly sustain the finding of the Secretary of Commerce and Labor to the effect that petitioner did, on November 17, 1910, import and bring into the United States a woman for an immoral purpose. Upon this question, petitioner's contention was and is, that the woman is in...

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