United States v. Lim

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Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

176 U.S. 459

United States  v.  Lim

 Argued: January 29, 1900. --- Decided: February 26, 1900

Distinct appeals were taken direct to this court from the judgment of the district court of the United States for the district of Washington, northern division, in the case of the above defendant in error, Mrs. Gue Lim, and from the judgment of the western division of that court in the cases of Ah Tong, Yee Yuen, and Ah Quong, under the fifth clause of the 5th section of the act creating the circuit court of appeals (26 Stat. at L. 826, 828, chap. 517), because the cases involve, among other questions, the construction of the treaty between the United States and China, entered into in 1880 (22 Stat. at L. 826, article second, as affected by the third article of the treaty of December 8, 1894, 28 Stat. at L. 1210). The various appeals were heard here as one case.

The facts in regard to Mrs. Gue Lim were agreed upon in the court below, and it appears therefrom that she is the lawful wife of Fook Kee, a Chinese merchant engaged in buying and selling merchandise in the city of Seattle and state of Washington, under the firm name of Fook Kee & Company. He was not engaged in the performance of any manual labor, except such as was necessary in the conduct of his business as such merchant, for over one year next preceding the date of his last departure from the United States, which was in April, 1896, and was in all respects a Chinese merchant lawfully domiciled in the United States. He arrived at the port of Tacoma, Washington, from China, accompanied by his wife, this being her first arrival in the United States, and the collector of customs, acting under general instructions from the Secretary of the Treasury, allowed her to land on the-day of May, 1897, without the production of the certificate mentioned in § 6th of the act of July 5, 1884 (23 Stat. at L. 115, chap. 220). Complaint was subsequently made to the district court that she was a Chinese laborer, and was found unlawfully in the United States, in the county of King, in the district of Washington, on the 2d day of October, 1897, without having been registered as a Chinese laborer, and without having in her possession a certificate of registration as such laborer, and without having any other legal right or authority to be and remain in the United States.

A warrant was issued by the district court, upon which she was arrested, and after hearing evidence on behalf of the plaintiff and defendant the court decided (83 Fed. Rep. 136) that she was not a Chinese laborer, but the wife of a Chinese merchant lawfully domiciled and doing business as a merchant, and was not excluded by the laws of the United States from coming to or remaining in the United States, and she was therefore discharged from custody and the cause dismissed.

The other defendants in error had been admitted by the collector of customs at Port Townsend, and were thereafter adjudged by the United States commissioner, upon complaint made before him, to be Chinese laborers unlawfully in the United States, and the commissioner thereupon ordered them to be deported to China. They appealed from such decision, and the United States district court for the district of Washington, western division, after hearing the evidence, decided that the defendants were minor children of Chinese merchants, and that they were lawfully entitled to be and remain in the United States.

The facts were agreed upon in the court below, and they are stated in the record as follows:

(1.) The defendants were born in China of parents lawfully married, and had resided in that country up to the time they came to the United States to live with their respective fathers, and were still minors under the age of fifteen years.

(2.) The fathers of these boys were, and for a long time prior to the coming of the boys to this country, had been, bona fide Chinese merchants, lawfully residing and doing business in the city of Walla Walla, in the state of Washington, and had sent for their sons to come from China to live with them in Walla Walla, where they were residing with their fathers when arrested by a United States immigration officer.

(3.) The boys had never procured any certificate under § 6th of the act of July 5, 1884 (23 Stat. at L. 115, chap. 220, supra), but relied entirely upon the status of their fathers as merchants here to entitled them to come to this country, and upon that claim had been admitted by the collector of customs at Port Townsend.

A judgment discharging the defendants having been entered, the United States appealed to this court.

Assistant Attorney General Hoyt for appellant.

No counsel for appellees.

Mr. Justice Peckham, after stating the facts, delivered the opinion of the court:


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).