Mr. Rives to Mr. Shu Cheou Pon.
Washington, October 18, 1888.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 10th instant, in which you advert to the reported arrival at San Francisco of a number of Chinese laborers, some of them being possessed of certificates of identity to return to the United States, and some intending to pass through this country in transit to other parts, and you ask me to communicate with the Secretary of the Treasury to the end that the action of the collector of customs at San Francisco in not permitting the Chinamen in question to land might be reversed by telegraphic orders.[Page 116]
The matter being, as you are evidently aware, within the jurisdiction of the Secretary of the Treasury, to whom is intrusted the execution of of all statutes relative to foreign immigration and the carriage of foreign passengers to the United States, your request was promptly communicated to him, and I am now in receipt of his reply, by which I am informed that, under the mandatory provisions of the act of Congress approved by the President on the 1st instant, which prevents the landing of Chinese laborers after the date of the passage of such act, and which also prescribes that “no certificates of identity,” as provided for in previous acts, “shall hereafter be issued,” and that all certificates heretofore issued are declared void and of no effect, circular instructions were issued by the Treasury Department on the 2d instant, directing and enjoining the several officers of the customs to strictly enforce and carry into elect the provisions of the said act. Inasmuch as it is understood that the Chinese laborers to whom your note relates have arrived in a port of the United States since the approval of the act referred to, the Secretary of the Treasury finds himself without authority of law to comply with the request you present.
I inclose for your information copies of the act of Congress above mentioned.