Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
It is an accepted maxim of international law, that every sovereign nation has the power, as inherent in sovereignty, and essential to self-preservation, to forbid the entrance of foreigners within its dominions, or to admit them only in such cases and upon such conditions as it may see fit to prescribe. In the United States, this power is vested in the national government, to which the United States constitution commits the entire control of international relations, in peace as well as in war. It belongs to the political department of the government, and may be exercised either through treaties made by the President and Senate, or through statutes enacted by Congress.
The case is a consolidation of three cases wherein petitioners, who are Chinese laborers, were arrested and detained for their failure to comply with Section 6 of the act of May 5, 1892, c. 60. The said act required all Chinese laborers within the United States at the time of its passage, and who are entitled to remain in the United States, to apply within a year to a collector of internal revenue for a certificate of residence. According to the act, failure to obtain a certificate of residence will result to the arrest and deportation of the aliens. Each petition alleged that the petitioner was arrested and detained without due process of law, and that section 6 of the act of May 5, 1892, was unconstitutional and void. Subsequently, the petitioners filed writs of habeas corpus which were dismissed; petitioners appealed from judgments of dismissal upon writs of habeas corpus from the United States Circuit Court for the Southern District of New York.
Is section 6 of the Act of May 5, 1892 unconstitutional and void?
The United States Supreme Court gave effect to an accepted maxim of international law: that every sovereign nation had the power to forbid the entrance of foreigners within its dominions, or to admit them only in such cases and conditions as it saw fit. The Court noted that in the United States, the power to exclude or to expel aliens is vested in the political departments of the national government, and is to be regulated by treaty or by act of Congress, and to be executed by the executive authority according to the regulations so established. According to the Court, Congress has the right to provide a system of registration and identification of any class of aliens within the country, and to take all proper means to carry out that system. The Court further held that the provisions of an act of Congress, passed in the exercise of its constitutional authority, must, if clear and explicit, be upheld by the courts, even in contravention of stipulations in an earlier treaty; thus, the Court ruled that section 6 of the act of May 5, 1892 is constitutional.