In two similar cases, petitioners sought a writ of habeas corpus from federal district courts in order to obtain release from federal immigration authorities. Both were aliens who had been lawful permanent residents at the time they left the country. Mezei had allegedly gone abroad to visit his dying mother, and his return to the United States had been delayed by difficulty in securing an exit permit. Kwong Hai Chew had left the country to sail aboard a vessel of American registry, prior to which he had been screened by the United States Coast Guard. He had also served in the United States Merchant Marine with credit during World War II. On return to the United States, both petitioners were denied entry without a hearing, "on the basis of information of a confidential nature, the disclosure of which would be prejudicial to the public interest." This action was taken pursuant to federal regulations duly prescribed. In the Kwong case, the district court denied the writ on the ground that, since every entry by an alien is to be deemed a new entry, the petitioner became subject to the exclusion provisions of the immigration laws. In the Mezei case, the district court granted the petition and authorized temporary admission after refusal of the federal authorities to disclose in camera any proof of the petitioner's danger to the public safety, since the petitioner had already been held for 21 months and the government conceded that, despite every effort on both its part and on that of the petitioner, his entry into another country could not be secured. The decisions of the district courts were affirmed by the respective courts of appeals. On certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, held, both decisions reversed. Since he had been on a vessel of American registry, Kwong Hai Chew had not lost his status as a lawful permanent resident. The regulations under which he had been denied entry without a hearing were construed not to apply to lawful permanent residents, both on constitutional grounds and on the ground of statutory intent. Mezei, on the other hand, could no longer be considered as a lawful permanent resident, and since he thus became an alien seeking entry, he had no right to a hearing on the question of his exclusion, even though he was undeportable; he could be detained indefinitely if his removal could not be effected. Shaughnessy v. United States ex rel. Mezei, 345 U.S. 206, 73 S.Ct. 625 (1953); Kwong Hai Chew v. Colding, 344 U.S. 590, 73 S.Ct 472 (1953).
Lois H. Hambro S.Ed.,
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW-ALIENS-POWER TO EXCLUDE AND DENY HEARING,
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol51/iss8/8