Wong Wing v. United States
163 U.S. 228 (1896)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Wong Wing v. United States, 163 U.S. 228 (1896)

Wong Wing v. United States

No. 204

Argued April 1-2, 1896

Decided May 18, 1896

163 U.S. 228

Syllabus

Detention or temporary confinement, as part of the means necessary to give effect to the exclusion or expulsion of Chinese aliens is valid.

The United States can forbid aliens from coming within their borders, and expel them from their territory, and can devolve the power and duty of identifying and arresting such persons upon executive or subordinate officials, but when Congress sees fit to further promote such a policy by subjecting the persons of such aliens to infamous punishment at hard labor, or by confiscating their property, such legislation, to be valid, must provide for a judicial trial to establish the guilt of the accused.

Page 163 U. S. 229

On July 15, 1892, Wong Wing, Lee Poy, Lee You Tong, and Chan Wah Dong were brought before John Graves, a commissioner of the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Michigan by virtue of a warrant issued upon the complaint of T. E. McDonough, deputy collector of customs, upon a charge of being Chinese persons unlawfully within the United States, and not entitled to remain within the same. The commissioner found that said persons were unlawfully within the United States, and not entitled to remain within the same, and he adjudged that they be imprisoned at hard labor at and in the Detroit House of Correction for a period of sixty days from and including the day of commitment, and that at the expiration of said time, they be removed from the United States to China.

A writ of habeas corpus was sued out of the circuit court of the United States, directed to Joseph Nicholson, superintendent of the Detroit House of Correction, alleging that said persons were by him unlawfully detained. The superintendent made a return setting up the action of the commissioner, and, after argument, the writ of habeas corpus was discharged, and the prisoners were remanded to the custody of said Nicholson, to serve out their original sentence. From this decision, an appeal was taken to this Court.

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