SHAUGHNESSY V. MEZEI, 345 U. S. 206 (1953)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Shaughnessy v. Mezei, 345 U.S. 206 (1953)

Shaughnessy v. Mezei

No. 139

Argued January 7-8, 1953

Decided March 16, 1953

345 U.S. 206


An alien resident of the United States traveled abroad and remained in Hungary for 19 months. On his return to this country, the Attorney General, acting pursuant to 22 U.S.C. § 223 and regulations thereunder, ordered him permanently excluded without a hearing. The order was based on "information of a confidential nature, the disclosure of which would be prejudicial to the public interest," and on a finding that the alien's entry would be prejudicial to the public interest for security reasons. Because other nations refused to accept him, his exclusion at Ellis Island was continued for 21 months. A federal district court in habeas corpus proceedings then directed his conditional parole into the United States on bond.

Held: the Attorney General's continued exclusion of the alien without a hearing does not amount to an unlawful detention, and courts may not temporarily admit him to the United States pending arrangements for his departure abroad. Pp. 345 U. S. 207-216.

(a) In exclusion cases, the courts cannot retry the Attorney General's statutory determination that an alien's entry would be prejudicial to the public interest. Pp. 345 U. S. 210-212.

(b) Neither an alien's harborage on Ellis Island nor his prior residence in this country transforms the administrative proceeding against him into something other than an exclusion proceeding, and he may be excluded if unqualified for admission under existing immigration laws. P. 345 U. S. 213.

(c) Although a lawfully resident alien may not captiously be deprived of his constitutional rights to due process, the alien in this case is an entrant alien or "assimilated to that status" for constitutional purposes. Kwong Hai Chew v. Colding, 344 U. S. 590, distinguished. Pp. 345 U. S. 213-214.

(d) The Attorney General therefore may exclude this alien without a hearing, as authorized by the emergency regulations promulgated pursuant to the Passport Act, and need not disclose the evidence upon which that determination rests. Pp. 345 U. S. 214-215.

Page 345 U. S. 207

(e) The alien's continued exclusion on Ellis Island does not deprive him of any statutory or constitutional right. Pp. 345 U. S. 215-216.

(f) The alien's right to enter the United States depends on the congressional will, and the courts cannot substitute their judgment for the legislative mandate. P. 345 U. S. 216.

195 F.2d 964, reversed.

In a habeas corpus proceeding, the Federal District Court authorized the temporary admission of an alien to this country on $5,000 bond. 101 F.Supp. 66. The Court of Appeals affirmed that action, but directed reconsideration of the terms of the parole. 195 F.2d 964. This Court granted certiorari. 344 U.S. 809. Reversed, p. 345 U. S. 216.

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