Sunday, August 23, 2015
Immigration Article of the Day: Chae Chan Ping v. United States: Immigration as Property by Rose Cuison Villazor
Chae Chan Ping v. United States: Immigration as Property by Rose Cuison Villazor, University of California, Davis, August 17, 2015, Oklahoma Law Review, Forthcoming UC Davis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 445
Abstract: In this symposium Essay, I explore an overlooked aspect of Chae Chan Ping v. United States: Ping's argument that his exclusion from the United States under the Chinese Exclusion Act violated his property right to re-enter the United States. In particular, Ping contended that the government-issued certificate that he acquired prior to leaving the United States gave him the right to return to the United States. Such right was based on “title or right to be in [the United States] when the writ issued.” Importantly, Ping claimed that this right could not be “taken away by mere legislation” because it was “a valuable right like an estate in lands.” Similar to his other claims, the Supreme Court rejected this property argument. The Court’s treatment of his property claim is understandable because Ping’s contention may perhaps be described as “new property,” which did not become legible to courts until several decades later. In reconsidering Ping’s property arguments, I aim to achieve two goals. First, as a thought piece, this Essay aims to show what the plenary power doctrine might have looked like had Ping succeeded in convincing the Court that his right to return constituted a property right. Second, this Essay highlights the intersections between property law and immigration law and the ways in which individual property rights might serve as limiting principles to the Supreme Court’s formulation of the nation’s absolute right to exclude non-citizens from the United States.
Professor Villazor's paper will be published as part of a symposium in the Oklahoma Law Review commemorating the 125th anniversary of Chae Chan Ping v. United States (also known as the Chinese Exclusion Case). The symposium issue should be out soon.