Ignoring congressional power under the U.S. Constitution’s commerce clause, the Miln decision gave individual states power over arriving immigrants by allowing them to regulate passengers on ships entering their ports under the doctrine of the state police powers. In later years, however, the Court would reverse this ruling.
In an attempt to gain control over indigent aliens and others likely to become public charges, New York’s state legislature enacted a law requiring ships docking in New York Harbor to pay a
After the case reached the U.S. Supreme Court, the Court upheld the New York law by a 6-1 margin. Writing for the Court, Associate Justice
Legomsky, Stephen. Immigration and the Judiciary: Law and Politics in Britain and America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987. LeMay, Michael, and Elliott Robert Barkan, eds. U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Laws and Issues: A Documentary History. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1999.
History of immigration, 1783-1891
Supreme Court, U.S.