223 US 67 United States v. Wong You

223 U.S. 67

32 S.Ct. 195

56 L.Ed. 354

UNITED STATES, Petitioner,
WONG YOU, Wong Cheen, et al.

No. 597.

Argued January 12, 1912.

Decided January 22, 1912.

Assistant Attorney General Harr for petitioner.

No appearance for respondents.

Adv. Ops. Oct. Term, 1911.

[Argument of Counsel from page 68 intentionally omitted]

Mr. Justice Holmes delivered the opinion of the court:

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This is a writ of habeas corpus. It was dismissed by the district court (176 Fed 933), but was sustained by the circuit court of appeals, which ordered the parties concerned to be discharged from custody. 104 C. C. A. 535, 181 Fed. 313. The parties are Chinamen who entered the United States surreptitiously, in a manner prohibited by the immigration act of February 20, 1907, chap. 1134, § 36, 34 Stat. at L. 898, 908, U. S. Comp. Stat. Supp. 1909, pp. 447, 466, and the rules made in pursuance of the same, if applicable to Chinese. They were arrested in transitu and ordered by the Secretary of Commerce and Labor to be deported. §§ 20, 21. But as it transpired in the evidence that they were laborers, the circuit court of appeals held that they could be dealt with only under the Chinese exclusion acts of earlier date. Those acts make it unlawful for any Chinese laborer to come from any foreign place into the United States, or, having so come, to remain there, and provide a different procedure for removing them. Hence it was concluded that such persons were tacitly excepted from the general provisions of the immigration act, although broad enough to include them, and although of later date.


We are of opinion that the circuit court of appeals made a mistaken use of its principles of interpretation. By the language of the act any alien that enters the country unlawfully may be summarily deported by order of the Secretary of Commerce and Labor at any time within three years. It seems to us unwarranted to except the Chinese from this liability because there is an earlier more cumbrous proceeding which this partially overlaps. The existence of the earlier laws only indicates the special solicitude of the government to limit the entrance of Chinese. It is the very reverse of a reason for denying to the government a better remedy against them alone of all the world, now that one has been created in general terms. To allow the immigration act its literal effect does not repeal, alter, or amend the laws relating to the Chinese, as it is provided that it shall not, in § 43. The present act does not contain the clause found in the previous immigration act of March 3, 1893 [27 Stat. at L. 569, chap. 206, U. S. Comp. Stat. 1901, p. 1300], that it shall not apply to Chinese persons, and, on the other hand, as it requires deportation to the trans-Pacific ports from which such aliens embarked for the United States (§ 35), it is rather hard to say that it has not the Chinese specially in mind.


Judgment reversed.