The Lem Moon Sing decision upheld a federal law prohibiting district courts from reviewing habeas corpus petitions, thereby empowering immigration authorities to exclude or deport alien immigrants without any concern that judges might find fault with their procedures.
A businessman who had resided many years in California, Lem Moon Sing was born in China to Chinese parents, which made him ineligible for naturalized American citizenship. In 1894, he visited his native land with the intention of returning in a few months to resume living and working in the United States. During his absence, however, the U.S. Congress passed an appropriation act with a provision that immigration officials’ decisions were final when excluding aliens from admission into the United States under the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Decisions were subject to review by the secretary of the treasury. When arriving in San Francisco later that year, Sing appeared to meet the qualifications for reentry. He presented two credible witnesses testifying that he had conducted business as a merchant and was not a laborer excluded by the
Arguing that the exclusion was an unconstitutional denial of
Hyung-chan, Kim, ed. Asian Americans and the Supreme Court: A Documentary History. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1992. McClain, Charles J. In Search of Equality: The Chinese Struggle Against Discrimination in Nineteenth-Century America. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.
Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882
Chinese Exclusion Cases
History of immigration, 1783-1891
Immigration and Naturalization Service v. St. Cyr
Nishimura Ekiu v. United States
Supreme Court, U.S.
United States v. Ju Toy