Mr. Frelinghuysen to Mr. Young.
Washington, January 19, 1883.
Sir: The question as to whether Chinese laborers, proceeding from China to a foreign country, or returning thence to China, may be allowed transit as simple passengers across the territory of the United States [Page 181]in the course of their journey, has for some time past had much attention here.
The chargé d’affaires of China addressed me in relation to the proposed return of certain Chinese laborers from Cuba to their own country by the overland route from New York to San Francisco. I laid the matter before the Attorney-General. Considering the subject in the light of the declared intent of the act to execute the provisions of the treaty of November 17, 1880, he has reached the conclusion that, inasmuch as transient Chinese passengers across our territory are not “immigrants,” purposing to remain or reside in the United States, and do not come hither “as laborers” to compete with our domestic labor, and as their transit is, moreover, unobjectionable in practice, they do not properly fall within the restrictions of the treaty or statute, and may be allowed transit, under whatever regulations the Secretary of the Treasury may deem necessary to secure the honesty and certainty of the transit.
* * * * * * *
The announcement I have made to the Chinese minister here will doubtless suffice, but it seems well that you should be conversant with the matter, in case it should be made the subject of conversation at the yamên.* * *
I am, &c.,