Li Sing v. United States
180 U.S. 486 (1901)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Li Sing v. United States, 180 U.S. 486 (1901)

Li Sing v. United States

No. 27

Argued April 18-19, 1900

Decided March 18, 1901

180 U.S. 486

Syllabus

Ll Sing was a Chinaman who, after residing for years in the United States, returned temporarily to China, taking with him a certificate purporting to have been issued by the imperial government of China at its consulate in New York, and signed by its consul, stating that he was permitted to return to the United States, that he was entitled to do so, and that he was a wholesale grocer. On his return to the United States by way of Canada, he presented this certificate to the United States collector of customs at Malone, New York, who cancelled it and permitted him to enter the country. Subsequently he was brought before the Commissioner of the United States for the Southern District of New York, charged with having unlawfully entered the United States, being a laborer. At the examination, he set up that he had a right to remain here, and that he was a merchant. The Commissioner found that, on his departure from the United States, he was and had long been a laborer, and ordered his deportation.

Held that the decision of the Collector at Malone was not final, and that, by the Act of October 1, 1888, c. 1064, the certificate issued to him by the Chinese consul on his departure from the United States was annulled.

Fong Yue Ting v. United States,149 U. S. 698, affirmed and followed, especially to the points: (1) that the provision of the statute which puts the burden of proof upon the alien of rebutting the presumption arising from his having no certificate, as well as the requirement of proof "by at least one credible white witness, that he was a resident of the United States at the time of the passage of the act," is within the acknowledged power of every legislature to prescribe the evidence which shall be received, and the effect of that evidence in the courts of its own government, (2) that the requirement not allowing the fact of residence here at the time of the passage of the act to be proved solely by the testimony of aliens in a like situation was a constitutional provision, and (3) that the question whether, and upon what conditions these aliens shall be permitted to remain within the United States being one to be determined by the political departments of the government, the judicial department cannot properly express an opinion upon the wisdom, the policy, or the justice of the measures enacted by Congress in the exercise of the powers confided to it by the Constitution over this subject.

In June, 1893, Li Sing a native of China but then a resident

Page 180 U. S. 487

of Newark, New Jersey, returned to China and took with him a certificate purporting to have been issued by the imperial government of China at its consulate at New York, and signed by its consul, that he was permitted to return to the United States and was entitled to do so, and which, furthermore, styled him a wholesale grocer. This certificate was vised in Hong Kong by the United States consul on June 27, 1896, when Li Sing was about to return to this country. He thereafter returned by the way of Canada, presented the certificate to the United States collector of customs at Malone, New York, who cancelled it on August 28, 1896, and permitted him to enter the country.

On January 6, 1897, the United States officer, who is called the United States inspector for the port of New York, represented in writing and under oath to John A. Shields, United States commissioner for the Southern District of New York, that Li Sing had unlawfully entered the United States, was unlawfully within that district, and that he was and had been for many years a Chinese laborer. Whereupon he was brought before the commissioner for examination. It was claimed by the counsel for Li Sing before the commissioner that, by the action of the collector of customs at Malone, the question of the Chinaman's right to be and remain in this country was res judicata, and also that he was a merchant. Testimony as to his status as a merchant was given by Chinese witnesses exclusively, which was received by the commissioner notwithstanding the objection of the attorney of the United States. The commissioner found upon all the evidence that Li Sing was at the time of the examination a Chinese laborer, that he was such at the time he departed for China, and for several years prior thereto, and was such after his return from China in August, 1896.

The commissioner ordered his deportation, but did not order imprisonment as a punishment or penalty. A writ of habeas corpus and a writ of certiorari were thereupon allowed by the Circuit Court for the Southern District of New York upon Li Sing's petition. After a hearing, the writ of habeas corpus was dismissed, and the relator was remanded to the custody of the

Page 180 U. S. 488

United States marshal for deportation. An appeal was then taken by the relator from the order of the circuit court to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and, on April 7, 1898, that court affirmed the order of the circuit court.

A writ of certiorari was thereafter, on February 1, 1899, allowed by this Court.

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