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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Bilokumsky v. Tod, 263 U.S. 149 (1923)

United States v. Bilokumsky v. Tod

No. 92

Argued October 19, 1923

Decided November 12, 1923

263 U.S. 149


1. In proceedings by the immigration authorities to deport a person charged with being an alien within the United States in violation of law, alienage is a jurisdictional fact which must be found to sustain an order of deportation. P. 263 U. S. 153.

2. The burden of proving alienage in such proceedings (with a statutory exception in Chinese cases) is on the government. Id.

3. When an essential finding of fact in such proceedings is unsupported by evidence, the courts may intervene by habeas corpus. Id.

4. Where a person, arrested for deportation as an alien within the United States in violation of law in that he had in his possession for distribution printed matter advocating overthrow of the government by force or violence, upon being called and sworn as a witness by the government to prove his alienage, stood mute, held that admission of alienage, which is not an element of the crime of sedition, would not have tended to incriminate him, and that the immigration officers might properly have inferred the fact of alienage from his silence. P. 263 U. S. 154.

5. Deportation proceedings are civil in character, and the person arrested may be compelled by legal process to testify whether he is an alien. P. 263 U. S. 155.

6. Mere interrogation under oath by a government official of one lawfully in confinement is not a search and seizure. P. 263 U. S. 155.

7. The rules of the Secretary of Labor concerning deportation case do not require that a person under investigation prior to application for warrant of arrest shall be advised of his right to have chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 263 U. S. 150

counsel and to decline to answer questions, before being interrogated as to his alienage. P. 263 U. S. 155.

8. The use in evidence in a deportation proceeding of an admission of his alienage made previously by the person held for deportation, while he was in custody of state authorities, held not to render the hearing unfair in view of corroborative evidence and his failure to deny alienage at the hearing. P. 263 U. S. 156.

9. A person held for deportation by immigration officials will not be discharged on habeas corpus merely because the warrant of arrest was issued without probable cause if the later proceedings were regular and afford sufficient ground for his detention. P. 263 U. S. 158.


Appeal from an order of the district court discharging a writ of habeas corpus and remanding the relator and appellant to the custody of the Commissioner of Immigration.

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