U.S. Supreme Court
Fok Yung Yo v. United States, 185 U.S. 296 (1902)
Fok Yung Yo v. United States
Argued January 7, 1902
Decided May 6, 1902
185 U.S. 296
The power to exclude or expel aliens is vested in the political departments of the government, to be regulated by treaty or by act of Congress, and to be executed by the executive authority according to such regulations, except so far as the judicial department is authorized by treaty or by statute, or is required by the Constitution, to intervene. And this is true of the privilege of transit.
By the treaty between the United States and China of 1894, the privilege of transit across the territory of the United States could only be enjoyed subject to such regulations of the government of the United States as might be necessary to prevent the privilege from being abused.
The treaty, in recognizing the privilege and providing that it should continue, proceeded on the ground of its existence and continuance under governmental regulations, and no act of Congress was required to carry it into effect.
Under existing regulations, the action of the collector of customs in refusing transit cannot be interfered with by the courts.
This was a petition to the District Court of the United States for the Northern District of California for a writ of habeas corpus. The petition represented that the petitioner was a citizen of the Empire of China, and a resident of Guatemala in the Republic of Mexico, and was traveling to that place when interrupted in his journey as afterwards described; that, on August 24, 1901, he purchased, for the sum of 183 Mexican dollars, from the agent of the Japanese steamship company of the Toyo Kisen Kaisha at Hong Kong in China, passage thence to San Jose de Guatemala in Mexico, and received from said agent a ticket for passage on the steamship Nippon Maru to the port of San Francisco, and an order upon the San Francisco agent of said company for a steerage ticket from San Francisco to San Jose de Guatemala; that, upon arriving in the port of San Francisco he was, on September 19, 1901, examined by a customs inspector, his baggage and private papers opened, and his chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
person searched; that, after the examination of the petitioner, the collector of customs at the port made an order of deportation, denying him the privilege of transit, and he was, by virtue of that order, detained by the agent of the steamship company in a frame building on the Pacific Mail dock at San Francisco, and, unless released by the court, would be deported and sent back to China; that the petitioner was not making application to enter the United States, or to pass in transit through the territory thereof, but was merely a passenger en route for a foreign port, and touching at the port of San Francisco while on his journey along the usual course of travel, and for the purpose of transhipping to another vessel; that the order under which he was held was illegal and void, and not authorized by any law of the United States, or by any treaty between the United States and the Empire of China, and that the collector of customs had no authority under the law to examine or to confine the petitioner.
The district attorney, by leave of court, intervened in behalf of the United States, and suggested that the petitioner was a native of the Empire of China, and a laborer by occupation, and before the filing of his petition arrived at San Francisco from Hong Kong in transit, through the territory of the United States, for the Republic of Mexico; that the collector of customs for the port of San Francisco, after careful and due investigation, had decided that he was satisfied that the petitioner did not intend in good faith to continue his voyage through the territory of the United States to the Republic of Mexico, and had for that reason denied him the privilege further to continue his journey through the territory of the United States, and had ordered him deported to China, and that the court had no jurisdiction over the person of the petitioner or over the subject matter of this proceeding.
The parties submitted the case to the decision of the court upon the following facts:
"The petitioner is a subject of the Empire of China. He arrived at the port of San Francisco on the Japanese steamship Nippon Maru, the manifest of which vessel states that he intended to go to San Jose de Guatemala. Petitioner herein also alleges that that was his intended destination.
The collector of customs at the port of San Francisco did, on September 23, 1901, deny the petitioner the privilege of further pursuing his journey to his alleged point of destination. The petitioner has a ticket, or an order for a ticket, for a through passage from Hong Kong, China, to San Jose de Guatemala by steamer. The petitioner is now held by W. H. Avery, agent for the Japanese steamship company, by virtue of an order issued by the collector of customs for the port of San Francisco directing him to retain the person of the petitioner in his custody and deport him to China."
The court ordered the petition and the writ of habeas corpus to be dismissed, and the petitioner remanded to custody, and he appealed to this Court.