Nishimura Ekiu v. United States Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

The Nishimura Ekiu decision recognized the constitutionality of a federal law that authorized immigration officials to refuse to admit aliens into the country, without any opportunity for habeas corpus relief. The ruling also ignored minor procedural mistakes by immigration officials acting in pursuance of the law.

Nishimura Ekiu, a female citizen of Japan, arrived at the port of San Francisco in 1891. When she was interviewed by immigration officials, she claimed that she was going to meet her husband, who was living in the United States, but did not know his address. Having only twenty-two dollars in her possession, she said that she would stay at a hotel until her husband called her. A recent federal law of 1891 required the U.S. Treasury Department to refuse admittance to several categories of persons, including persons without succifient financial resources to avoid becoming public charges. After officials refused to allow Nishimura into the country, she petitioned the district court for a writ of habeas corpus, claiming that denial of such relief would deprive her of liberty without due process of law.[c]Nishimura Ekiu v. United StatesJapanese immigrants;Nishimura Ekiu v. United StatesHabeas corpus;Nishimura Ekiu v. United States[c]Nishimura Ekiu v. United StatesJapanese immigrants;Nishimura Ekiu v. UnitedStatesHabeas corpus;Nishimura Ekiu v. United States[cat]COURT CASES;Nishimura Ekiu v. United States[03920]

The U.S. Supreme Court voted 8-1 to approve both the constitutionality of the 1891 law and the officials’ refusal to allow Nishimura to land. Writing the majority opinion, Justice Gray, HoraceHorace Gray concentrated on the wording of the relevant statute, which referred to the concurrent jurisdiction of the district and circuit courts. He concluded that Congress had clearly and explicitly authorized immigration officials within the Treasury Department to make the final determination for refusing admittance of the categories of aliens enumerated in the statute.[c]Nishimura Ekiu v. United StatesJapanese immigrants;Nishimura Ekiu v. United StatesHabeas corpus;Nishimura Ekiu v. United States

Further Reading
  • Galloway, Donald. Immigration Law. Concord, Ont.: Irwin Law, 1997.
  • LeMay, Michael, and Elliott Robert Barkan, eds. U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Laws and Issues: A Documentary History. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1999.

Congress, U.S.

History of immigration, 1783-1891

Immigration and Naturalization Service v. St. Cyr

Japanese immigrants

Lem Moon Sing v. United States

Supreme Court, U.S.

United States v. Ju Toy

Categories: History Content