Imágenes de páginas

Opinion of the Court.

States," inflicts an infamous punishment, and hence conflicts with the Fifth and Sixth Amendments of the Constitution, which declare that no person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, and that in all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed.

It is argued that, as this court has held, in Ex parte Wilson, 114 U. S. 417, and in Mackin v. United States, 117 U. S. 348, that no person can be held to answer, without presentment or indictment by a grand jury, for any crime for which an infamous punishment may be imposed by the court, and that imprisonment at hard labor for a term of years is an infamous punishment, the detention of the present appellants, in the house of correction at Detroit, at hard labor for a period of sixty days, without having been sentenced thereto upon an indictment by a grand jury and a trial by a jury, is illegal and without jurisdiction.

On the other hand, it is contended on behalf of the Government that it has never been decided by this court that in all cases where the punishment may be confinement at hard labor the crime is infamous, and many cases are cited from the reports of the state Supreme Courts, where the constitutionality of statutes providing for summary proceedings, without a jury trial, for the punishment by imprisonment at hard labor of vagrants and disorderly persons has been upheld. These courts have held that the constitutional guarantees refer to such crimes and misdemeanors as have, by the regular course of the law and the established modes of procedure, been the subject of trial by jury, and that they do not embrace every species of accusation involving penal consequences. It is urged that the offence of being and remaining unlawfully within the limits of the United States by an alien is a political offence, and is not within the common law cases triable only by a jury, and that the Constitution does not apply to such a case.

The Chinese exclusion acts operate upon two classes-one

Opinion of the Court.

consisting of those who came into the country with its consent, the other of those who have come into the United States without their consent and in disregard of the law. Our previous decisions have settled that it is within the constitutional power of Congress to deport both of these classes, and to commit the enforcement of the law to executive officers.

The question now presented is whether Congress can promote its policy in respect to Chinese persons by adding to its provisions for their exclusion and expulsion punishment by imprisonment at hard labor, to be inflicted by the judgment of any justice, judge or commissioner of the United States, without a trial by jury. In other words, we have to consider the meaning and validity of the fourth section of the act.of May 5, 1892, in the following words: "That any such Chinese person, or person of Chinese descent, convicted and adjudged to be not lawfully entitled to be and remain in the United States, shall be imprisoned at hard labor for a period of not exceeding one year, and thereafter removed from the United States, as herein before provided."

We think it clear that detention, or temporary confinement, as part of the means necessary to give effect to the provisions for the exclusion or expulsion of aliens would be valid. Proceedings to exclude or expel would be vain if those accused could not be held in custody pending the inquiry into their true character and while arrangements were being made for their deportation. Detention is a usual feature of every case of arrest on a criminal charge, even when an innocent person is wrongfully accused; but it is not imprisonment in a legal


So, too, we think it would be plainly competent for Congress to declare the act of an alien in remaining unlawfully within the United States to be an offence, punishable by fine or imprisonment, if such offence were to be established by a judicial trial.

But the evident meaning of the section in question, and no other is claimed for it by the counsel for the Government, is that the detention provided for is an imprisonment at hard labor, which is to be undergone before the sentence of depor

Opinion of the Court.

tation is to be carried into effect, and that such imprisonment is to be adjudged against the accused by a justice, judge or commissioner, upon a summary hearing. Thus construed, the fourth section comes before this court for the first time for consideration as to its validity.

It is, indeed, obvious, from some expressions used by the court in a previous opinion under the exclusion acts, that it was perceived that the question now presented might arise; but care was taken to reserve any expression of opinion upon it. Thus, in the case of Fong Yue Ting v. United States, 149 U. S. 730, Mr. Justice Gray used the following significant language:

"The proceeding before a United States judge, as provided for in section 6 of the act of 1892, is in no proper sense a trial and sentence for a crime or offence. It is simply the ascer tainment, by appropriate and lawful means, of the fact whether the conditions exist upon which Congress has enacted that an alien of this class may remain within the country. The order of deportation is not a punishment for crime. It is not a banishment, in the sense in which that word is often applied to the expulsion of a citizen from his country by way of punishment. It is but a method of enforcing the return to his own country of an alien who has not complied with the conditions upon the performance of which the gov ernment of the nation, acting within its constitutional authority and through the proper departments, has determined that his continuing to reside here shall depend. He has not, therefore, been deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; and the provisions of the Constitution, securing the right of trial by jury, and prohibiting unreasonable searches and seizures, and cruel and unusual punishments, have no application."

There is an evident implication, in this language, of a distinction between those provisions of the statute which contemplate only the exclusion or expulsion of Chinese persons and those which provide for their imprisonment at hard labor, pending which their deportation is suspended.

Our views, upon the question thus specifically pressed upon

Opinion of the Court.

our attention, may be briefly expressed thus: We regard it as settled by our previous decisions that the United States can, as a matter of public policy, by Congressional enactment, forbid aliens or classes of aliens from coming within their borders, and expel aliens or classes of aliens from their territory, and can, in order to make effectual such decree of exclusion or expulsion, devolve the power and duty of identifying and arresting the persons included in such decree, and causing their deportation, upon executive or subordinate officials.

But when Congress sees fit to further promote such a policy by subjecting the persons of such aliens to infamous punishment at hard labor, or by confiscating their property, we think such legislation, to be valid, must provide for a judicial trial to establish the guilt of the accused.

No limits can be put by the courts upon the power of Congress to protect, by summary methods, the country from the advent of aliens whose race or habits render them undesirable as citizens, or to expel such if they have already found their way into our land and unlawfully remain therein. But to declare unlawful residence within the country to be an infamous crime, punishable by deprivation of liberty and property, would be to pass out of the sphere of constitutional legislation, unless provision were made that the fact of guilt should first be established by a judicial trial. It is not consistent with the theory of our government that the legislature should, after having defined an offence as an infamous crime, find the fact of guilt and adjudge the punishment by one of its own agents.

In Ex parte Wilson, 114 U. S. 428, this court declared that for more than a century imprisonment at hard labor in the state prison or penitentiary or other similar institution has been considered an infamous punishment in England and America, and that imprisonment at hard labor, compulsory and unpaid, is, in the strongest sense of the words, "involuntary servitude for crime," spoken of in the provision of the Ordinance of 1787, and of the Thirteenth Amendment of the Constitution, by which all other slavery was abolished, and which declares

Mr. Justice Field's Opinion.

that such slavery or involuntary servitude shall not exist within the United States or any place subject to their jurisdiction, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.

And in the case of Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U. S. 356, 369, it was said: "The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution is not confined to the protection of citizens. It says: 'Nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law.' These provisions are universal in their application to all persons within the territorial jurisdiction, without regard to any differences of race, of color, or nationality; and the equal protection of the laws is a pledge of the protection of equal laws." Applying this reasoning to the Fifth and Sixth Amendments, it must be concluded that all persons within the territory of the United States are entitled to the protection guaranteed by those amendments, and that even aliens shall not be held to answer for a capital or other infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, nor be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.

Our conclusion is that the commissioner, in sentencing the appellants to imprisonment at hard labor at and in the Detroit house of correction, acted without jurisdiction, and that the Circuit Court erred in not discharging the prisoners from such imprisonment, without prejudice to their detention according to law for deportation.

The judgment of the Circuit Court is reversed and the cause remanded to that court with directions to proceed therein in accordance with this opinion.

MR. JUSTICE FIELD, concurring in part and dissenting in part.

The majority of the justices, in this case, hold that whatever might be true as to the power of the United States to exclude aliens, yet there was no power to punish such aliens who had been permitted to become residents, and that, if such power did exist, it could only be lawfully exercised after a

« AnteriorContinuar »