Mr. Wu to Mr. Hay.
Washington, December 26, 1900.
Sir: Since my note of the 30th ultimo, in which I called your attention to the case of the student Yip Wah, I have received from the imperial consul-general and from reputable Chinese merchants in San Francisco such urgent complaints that I feel it my regrettable duty to again address you on the subject of the manner in which the immigration laws of Congress are being enforced against Chinese subjects.
They represent, what I set forth in my note of the 30th ultimo, that under the rulings of the authorities of the port of San Francisco Chinese students holding certificates in conformity to the treaty and law of Congress are virtually debarred from entering the United States, it being held by the said authorities that such students must come here with a knowledge of the English language and with an education that will permit them to forthwith enter a college or take up an advanced professional course of study.
They further represent that under the act of November 3, 1893, the Government of the United States issued certificates of residence to a large number of Chinese persons, not laborers—merchants and others—and that the rights acquired under these certificates are being entirely ignored. Holders of such certificates desiring to make a temporary visit to China are denied the privilege, and persons who have departed holding such certificates are denied the privilege of reentering the United States.
They state that merchants returning to San Francisco after a temporary visit to China are often imprisoned in the detention dock for weeks and months pending their landing. Their Caucasian witnesses are put to all sorts of inconveniences and annoyances and treated with suspicion and discourtesy. When present to sigh identification papers they are compelled to await the pleasure of the Chinese bureau for examination, and are plied with all sorts of immaterial questions from an inspector, who assumes the character of an inquisitor. The result of this is that it is now very difficult for Chinese desiring to visit their native land to obtain the necessary signatures for their identification papers, thus causing them untold mental and financial suffering.
They report that it has been heretofore the custom in San Francisco for years to allow the attorney for the persons desiring to enter the United States to be present at the Chinese bureau pending the taking of evidence on their behalf, thus affording a protection to the Chinese applicants and operating as a restraint upon overzealous subordinate officials. It has just been ordered by the port authorities that henceforth no attorneys shall be allowed to be present at the taking of such testimony, or of any testimony on behalf of Chinese desiring to enter that port. They assert that this action makes the immigration inspector, whose avowed policy is to cause the return to China of every Chinese he possibly can, the master of the situation and throws all Chinese applicants at his feet.
Your note of the 8th instant contains the reasons of the Treasury Department for its actions. But it does not seem to me to be just that these Chinese subjects, who are ignorant of the law, of the language, and the customs of this country, should be deprived of the benefit of counsel and placed entirely at the mercy of inquisitors, who, I regret to say, are generally unfriendly if not positively hostile to them.[Page 65]
I beg to say that I was aware of the law which is quoted in your note of the 5th instant, when I suggested the interposition of the President of the United States, but I am advised that it can hardly be interpreted as a prohibition against the exercise by that supreme official of the nation of his influence with one of his own Secretaries, if he was convinced, upon examination of the facts, that a solemn treaty guaranty was being violated and a great wrong being done to subjects of a friendly Government. I am further advised that it was not the intent of Congress, by the act cited, to take from the President the duty, which I have understood was imposed on him by your great and wise Constitution, to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” and by the same instrument the treaties with foreign nations are declared to be “the supreme law of the land.” I feel persuaded that if you will lay the questions presented in the present note and that of the 30th ultimo before the President he will be inspired by his high sense of justice to induce the honorable Secretary of the Treasury to revise the decisions which have been made by the official of his Department, or that he will at least submit the questions to the Attorney-General for a construction of the treaty and the laws depending thereon.