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					Enforcement of the
Chinese Exclusion Laws
Asian Americans and the Law
Dr. Steiner
Act of July 5, 1884, 23 Stat. 115
   The certificate herein provided for shall
    entitle the Chinese laborer to whom the same
    is issued to return to and re-enter the United
    States upon producing and delivering the
    same to the collector of customs of the district
    at which such Chinese laborers shall seek to
    re-enter, and said certificates shall be the only
    evidence permissible to establish his right of
    re-entry. . .
Chew Heong v. United States,
112 U.S. 536 (1884)
   The entire argument in support of the judgment
    below proceeds upon the erroneous assumption that
    congress intended to exclude all Chinese laborers of
    every class who were not in the United States at the
    time of the passage of the act of 1882, including
    those who, like the plaintiff in error, were here when
    the last treaty was concluded, but were absent at the
    date of the passage of that act. . . . [T]he courts
    uniformly refuse to give to statutes a retrospective
    operation, whereby rights previously vested are
    injuriously affected, unless compelled to do so by
    language so clear and positive as to leave no room to
    doubt that such was the intention of the legislature.
Lorenzo Sawyer to Matthew P. Deady,
Dec. 22, 1884
   [I]t is some consolation, after all the
    lying, abuse, threatening of impeachment etc.
    as to our construction of the Chinese
    restriction act, and the grand glorification of
    brother Field for coming out here and so
    easily, promptly and thoroughly sitting down
    on us and setting us right on that subject to
    find that we are not so widely out of our
    senses after all.
Ellis Island
   Main port of entry for European immigrants
    whose immigration was restricted but not
    excluded
   Immigrants at Ellis Island spent a few hours
    or at most a few days
   Ellis Island was a processing station
       Erika Lee, At America’s Gates
Angel Island
   Chief port of entry for Chinese immigrants from
    1910-1940 whose entry was excluded but for some
    exceptions
   The Chinese on Angel Island spent
    weeks, months, even years detained
   Angel Island’s purpose was to keep immigrants out
       Erika Lee, At America’s Gate
Angel Island and Ellis Island
   Between 1891 and 1910, European
    immigrants filed only 273 habeas corpus
    petitions
   Between 1891 and 1905, Chinese in San
    Francisco filed 2,657 petitions
   Sixty thousand Chinese applied for admission
    into U.S. while almost six million non-
    Chinese entered
Angel Island Poetry
Three Poems
American laws are fierce like tigers:
People are jailed inside wooden walls.
Detained, interrogated, and tortured,
Birds plunged into an open trap—O, sufferings!
Tragedy, to whom can I complain—
I yell to the sky: There is no way out!
If only I had known the difficulty of passing the Golden
    Gate!
Fed up with this treatment, I regret my journey here
Three Poems
In search of petty gains,
Idle in my obscure village home,
I took the perilous journey and risk to America.
I met immigration officers interrogating me.
Just for a lapse of memory—
I am sent and imprisoned in a wild mountain
Where a brave man finds no use for his might
And cannot go one step beyond the confine.
Three Poems
So liberty is your national principle;
Why is it that you practice autocracy?
You uphold not justice, O, you Americans;
You confine me in prison and watch me closely.
Officials: wolves and tigers—
You are ruthless, you want to swallow me.
I am innocent, yet treated guilty; how can I take this?
When can I get out of this prison and find happiness?
    Another Angel Island Poem
   Imprisoned in the wooden building day after day,
    My freedom is withheld; how can I bear to talk about it?
    I look to see who is happy but they only sit quietly.
    I am anxious and depressed and cannot fall asleep.
    The days are long and bottle constantly empty;
    My sad mood even so is not dispelled.
    Nights are long and the pillow cold; who can pity my
    loneliness?
    After experiencing such loneliness and sorrow,
    Why not just return home and learn to plow the fields?
    Detention
   Men and women—
    even husband and
    wife—were separated
    until they were
    admitted
Class Bias and Exclusion Enforcement
   Passengers who traveled in first or second class
    usually were released on their first day of arrival
    while third-class passengers were brought to the
    detention center
Immigration Officials
Immigration Officials in California
   Immigration officials had been leaders of the
    anti-Chinese movement in California
   John H. Wise, collector of customs in San
    Francisco from 1892 to 1898, described
    himself as a “zealous opponent of Chinese
    immigration”
   While the statute permitted non-laborers to
    enter with the proper certificate, Wise
    required more proof than the statute required
John Wise and Wong Fong
   Wise denied Wong Fong entry and wrote the
    following to his lawyer H.A. Ling:
      Now poor old Wong Fong, he feels quite ill,
      As I am told by Ling
      And won’t eat any nice birds’ nest
      Nor even will he sing
      So just to make this poor Wong Fong
      Feel very good and nice
      I’ve sent him back to China
      Where he can eat his mice.
    Merchant’s wives
   Chinese women who were
    merchants’ wives had to
    prove:
     Husbands were merchants
     They were indeed married
    Interrogating Wives
   What presents or ornaments has your husband given you?
   When did your husband give you the hair ornament?
   Did he buy the hair ornament in his home village?
   Did you really wear the head-dress and beaded veil at your
    wedding?
   Just when did you wear the head-dress?
   How long did you wear the head-dress?
   Did you wear it while you served tea?
   Who were the guests that you poured tea for?
Salyer, Captives of Law
   How does the Chinese experience in the
    federal courts run counter to the traditional
    assumptions about the history of immigration
    and the courts?
   The traditional account has been that federal
    courts deferred to administrative agencies; but
    Chinese immigrants repeatedly won when
    challenging decisions that denied entry
    Salyer,
    Captives of Law
    By 1890, Chinese had
     filed over 7,000
     petitions challenging
     entry decisions
    They had won between
     85-90 per cent
Salyer, Captives of Law
   Who were the “captives of law”? How were
    they captured?
   Federal judges, who shared the anti-Chinese
    feelings of most white
    Americans, nonetheless were constrained by
    institutional norms (writ of habeas
    corpus, rules of evidence)
Salyer, Captives of Law
   What role did family and district associations
    play in the litigation involving Chinese
    immigrants?
   Chinese arriving in San Francisco found a
    network of family and service associations
    who would help with immigration problems
    and help hire a lawyer. The Chinese Six
    Companies had a lawyer on retainer.
Salyer, Captives of Law
   What was the importance of the writ of
    habeas corpus?
   “For the judges of the court, the writ of
    habeas corpus had an honored place in Anglo-
    American jurisprudence; it evoked the basic
    principle of the liberty of the individual from
    the arbitrary act of government.”
In re Jung Ah Lung,
25 F. 141 (N.D. Cal. 1885)
   But the section affords no color to the extraordinary
    pretension that the result of that examination shall be
    final and conclusive upon the rights of passengers.
    Such an abrogation of the writ of habeas
    corpus, which has always been considered among
    English-speaking peoples the most sacred monument
    of personal freedom, must be unmistakably declared
    by congress before any court could venture to
    withhold its benefits from any human being, no
    matter what his race or color.
In re Chin Ah Sooey,
21 F. 393 (D.C.D. Cal. 1884)(Hoffman)
   That any human being claiming to be
    unlawfully restrained of his liberty has a right
    to demand a judicial investigation into the
    lawfulness of his imprisonment, is not
    questioned by any one who knows by what
    constitutional and legal methods the right of
    liberty is secured and enforced by at least all
    English-speaking peoples.
    Salyer, Captives of Law
    What was the “special procedure” used in the Chinese
     immigrant cases in the federal courts of the Northern
     District of California?
    A Chinese litigant who filed a writ was brought before
     a U.S. Attorney for an examination without a lawyer.
     A statement would be taken that could be used in
     court. Later the preliminary examination would be
     dropped but a commissioner instead of a judge would
     have a hearing and make recommendations to the
     court.
Salyer, Captives of Law
   Why was the “special procedure” used in the
    Chinese immigrant cases?
   Because Judge Hoffman and the United States
    Attorney believed that it would get to the truth
    of the matter. The usual court proceedings
    wouldn’t work because of the lack of
    documentation and the purported unreliability
    of Chinese litigants
Salyer, Captives of Law
   If Chinese immigrants in habeas corpus cases
    provided positive, uncontradicted testimony
    would they automatically win?
   Nor necessarily. Ordinarily, such testimony
    would mean that the Chinese petitioner would
    win. But the Supreme Court ruled in Quock
    Ting (1891) that a court could decide against a
    petitioner even where his testimony was
    uncontradicted.
Salyer, Captives of Law
   What does Salyer believe explains the
    difference in results between the hearings
    before the collectors of customs and those
    before the commissioner or judges?
   The commissioner overturned the collector’s
    decision around 80 % of the time. The
    commissioners adhered to favorable
    evidentiary standards and allowed petitioners
    to be represented by lawyers.
Blocking Judicial Review
Act of August 18, 1894, 28 Stat. 390
   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.
    Administrative Rule 21
    The burden of proof in all cases rests upon Chinese
     persons claiming the right of admission to or residence
     within the United States to establish such right
     affirmatively and satisfactorily to the appropriate
     government officers, and in no case in which the law
     prescribes the nature of the evidence to establish such
     right shall other evidence be accepted in lieu
     thereof, and in every doubtful case the benefit of the
     doubt shall be given by administrative officers to the
     United States government
Salyer, Captives of Law
   What was the significance of the decisions of
    United States Supreme Court in United States
    v. Sing Tuck and United States v. Ju Toy?
   These cases limited the ability of Chinese to
    challenge decisions made by immigration
    officials in federal court.
Salyer, Captives of Law
   After 1894 most types of immigrant cases
    couldn’t be reviewed by the courts. What was
    the notable exception?
   Birthright citizenship.
United States v. Sing Tuck,
194 U.S. 161 (1904)
   Whatever may be the ultimate rights of a person
    seeking to enter the country, and alleging that he is a
    citizen, it is within the power of Congress to
    provide, at least, for a preliminary investigation by
    an inspector, and for a detention of the person until
    he has established his citizenship in some reasonable
    way. If the person satisfies the inspector, he is
    allowed to enter the country without further trial.
    Now, when these Chinese, having that
    opportunity, saw fit to refuse it, we think an
    additional reason was given for not allowing a
    habeas corpus at that stage.
United States v. Sing Tuck,
194 U.S. 161 (1904)
   We are of opinion that the attempt to disregard and
    override the provisions of the statutes and the rules
    of the Department, and to swamp the courts by a
    resort to them in the first instance, must fail. We may
    add that, even if it is beyond the power of Congress
    to make the decision of the Department final upon
    the question of citizenship, we agree with the circuit
    court of appeals that a petition for habeas corpus
    ought not to be entertained unless the court is
    satisfied that the petitioner can make out at least a
    prima facie case. A mere allegation of citizenship is
    not enough.
Justice Brewer’s Dissent
in United States v. Sing Tuck (1904)
   Coming into a port of the United States, . . . placed
    as they were in a house of detention, shut off from
    communication with friends and counsel, examined
    before an inspector with no one to advise or
    counsel, only such witnesses present as the inspector
    may designate, and upon an adverse decision
    compelled to give notice of appeal within two
    days, within three days the transcript forwarded to
    the Commissioner General, and nothing to be
    considered by him except the testimony obtained in
    this Star Chamber proceeding. This is called due
    process of law to protect the rights of an American
    citizen, and sufficient to prevent inquiry in the
    courts.
Star Chamber
   The “Star Chamber” was an English court in
    the 1400s that became notorious for its
    arbitrary methods and severe punishments.
    The court was so named because the court
    chamber had a pattern of stars on a dark blue
    background painted on its ceiling. The court
    became so reviled that Star Chamber became
    a byword for unfair judicial proceedings.
Justice Brewer’s Dissent in
United States v. Sing Tuck (1904)
   Must an American citizen, seeking to return to this
    his native land, be compelled to bring with him two
    witnesses to prove the place of his birth or else be
    denied his right to return, and all opportunity of
    establishing his citizenship in the courts of his
    country? No such rule is enforced against an
    American citizen of Anglo-Saxon descent, and if this
    be, as claimed, a government of laws and not of
    men, I do not think it should be enforced against
    American citizens of Chinese descent.
United States v. Ju Toy,
198 U.S. 253 (1905)
   [T]he decision [about citizenship] may be
    intrusted to an executive officer, and . . . his
    decision is due process of law . . . . [T]he
    requirement of a judicial trial does not prevail
    in every case.
    Justice Brewer’s Dissent
    United States v. Ju Toy
    I do not see how any one can read those rules and hold
     that they constitute due process of law for the arrest
     and deportation of a citizen of the United States. . . . It
     will be borne in mind that the petitioner has been
     judicially determined to be a free-born American
     citizen, and the contention of the
     government, sustained by the judgment of this
     court, is that a citizen, guilty of no crime--for it is no
     crime for a citizen to come back to his native land--
     must, by the action of a ministerial officer, be
     punished by deportation and banishment, without trial
     by jury and without judicial examination.
    Such a decision is, to my mind, appalling.
The Chinese as “Illegal Alien”
   It’s estimated that at least 17,000 Chinese
    immigrants entered United States illegally
    through Mexico or Canada during the
    Exclusion era.
In the early 20th Century, what was the “illegal
alien” problem along the Texas-Mexico border?
    Mexico
   From 1907 to
    1909, 2,492 Chinese
    were arrested by
    U.S. officials for
    illegal entry from
    Mexico
   It’s estimated that
    1,000 to 2,000
    Chinese migrated
    illegally from
    Mexico into U.S.
    from 1876 to 1911
Border Crossings
   Chinese illegal immigration depended upon
    networks in Mexico and United
    States, including organized groups of
    smugglers
   New Chinese arrivals in Mexico would be
    given American money, Chinese-English
    dictionaries, U.S. railroad maps, etc.
   In El Paso, working-class Chinese and
    Chinese merchants “banded together” to help
    those who crossed illegally
Passing
   Smugglers would disguise Chinese as Mexicans or
    Native Americans
   Chinese would be dressed in “Indian garb” or “the
    most picturesque Mexican dress”
   They would receive forged Mexican citizenship
    papers and learn some basic Spanish (“Yo soy
    Mexicano”)
   Chinese aboard steamships disembarking in Gulf
    Coast ports would pass as blacks
    Canada
   Canada restricted
    Chinese immigration by
    imposing $50 “head-tax”
   But tax didn’t have to be
    paid for ninety days
   American officials
    complained that
    Canadian laws
    “practically nullified”
    U.S. efforts
“Smugglers’
 Paradise”
   The Vancouver-Puget
    Sound area heavily
    used for smuggling in
    the opium trade, and
    Chinese and their
    guides used same boats
    and routes
   Border crossing cost
    around $23-60 in
    1890s and up to $300
    in the 1900s
Canada, Mexico, and the United States
   What were the differences between Canada
    and Mexico in attitudes toward Chinese
    immigrants?
   How did the United States act differently in
    its attempts to control its northern and
    southern borders?
       Border diplomacy and cooperation with Canada
       Policing and deterrence along the border with
        Mexico

				
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