Sunday, June 24, 2012

Friends in high places-Jue Joe returns to America in 1906

Recently I have been able to obtain the detailed immigration records of the Jue family's interrogation on Angel Island in 1918. Those records will be presented and discussed in future posts. In this post, I will  explore the story of Jue Joe's return to America in 1906. Studying immigration history and the  history of the Chinese Exclusion Acts , I have always been puzzled about how easy it was for Jue Joe to return in 1906.
The Scott Act of 1888  was an amendment to the original Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.  The Scott Act strictly prohibited any Chinese laborer residing in the United States from returning to the United States after leaving the country.

"Fiftieth Congress, Session 1, CHAP. 1O64. An act a supplement to an act entitled "An act to execute certain treaty stipulations relating to Chinese," approved the sixth day of May eighteen hundred and eighty-two.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Repesentatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That from and after the passage of this act, it shall be unlawful for any chinese laborer who shall at any time heretofore have been, or who may now or hereafter be, a resident within the United States, and who shall have departed, or shall depart, therefrom, and shall not have returned before the passage of this act, to return to, or remain in, the United States.
SEC. 2. That no certificates of identity provided for in the fourth and fifth sections of the act to which this is a supplement shall hereafter be issued; and every certificate heretofore issued in pursuance thereof is hereby declared void and of no effect, and the chinese laborer claiming admission by virtue thereof shall not be permitted to enter the United States."
1888 Scott Act: Congress prohibited all Chinese laborers who left the United States, or who in the future would choose to leave, from reentering.  The Scott Act canceled all previously issued “certificates of return,” meaning that 20,000 Chinese laborers then overseas who held these certificates could not return to the United States.  The Supreme Court recognized that the act abrogated U.S.-China treaty obligations, but nonetheless upheld the act’s validity, reasoning that Congress had absolute authority to exclude aliens

The Scott Act was later amended by treaty with China to allow certain laborers to travel and return if they obtained a special return certificate from their port of departure. They were required to prove they had a  spouse, parents or children who were legal residents of the United States or $1000 in property or debts owed to them .   These special return certificates were for travel  not exceeding one year. No returning laborer would be allowed entry without one of these return certificates in their posssesion , nor were they allowed to remain  abroad for more then one year except for severe extenuating circumstances such as "loathsome or contagious disease." I am sure Jue Joe was aware of these laws, however Jue Joe did not request any such return certificate at the time of his departure.  He was not intending to just make a trip of less than one year to China. He was planning to marry and raise a family and remain forever in China.
As we have seen in previous posts , his plans to do so depended on his brother maintaining the family farming and produce business in Los Angeles and sending money back home to China. When Jue Joe's  brother, Jue Shee, sold the business and left with the money,  Jue Joe realized that he would have to return to American without his family to remake his fortune.
There was one very big problem.  There was absolutely no way for him to do so legally! He had left the United States as a laborer without a return certificate and now would be returning as a returning laborer which was expressly prohibited by United States law then in effect.
How did he do so?  My father has told me that  his father (San Tong) had told him that Jue Joe was able to return as a merchant in 1906, one  of the protected classes under the law.  Was this true?  Even though, the National Archives has misplaced Jue Joe's original immigration file, the records of the 1918 investigation refer to that immigration file and it's contents and clarify the story of  Jue Joe's 1906 immigration status.  Also my Auntie Soo-Jan kindly supplied me with a fascinating 1906 Los Angeles Immigration document  in which shortly after landing in 1906 and allowed entry, Jue Joe applies for a duplicate certificate of identity.  In 1906, a certificate of identity was required of all Chinese residing in the United States whether laborer, merchant , or student or other class.  Not possessing such a certifcate could be grounds for deportation.  Jue Joe does not have his original certificate of identity on return in 1906 nor any return certificate specifying that he was in the exempt class of return laborers.  Jue Joe not only does not have his original certificate of identity  or return certifcate with him on his return in 1906 but he returns as a " overtime laborer" having exceeded the one year limit on travel for any exempted returning laborer.   Despite all of this he is shortly "landed" ,which is  immigration parlance for being allowed entry to the United States, on "instructions  in a Departmental telegram".  Such a telegram must have specified that Jue Joe was in the exempt class of laborers when he departed in 1902 and that he intended to return in one year  despite not having any return certificate in his possession,but because of special circumstances out of his control exceeded the one year limit and would be landed as an "overtime laborer".  These special circumstances were usually only for severe contagious illness or physical disability preventing return. I wish we had the original immigration files to understand  more completely why Jue Joe was allowed to land  but the facts are clear that  he was allowed entry and relatively swiftly ( he was held in detention on the S.S. Mongolia for 10 days prior to being admitted ). Soon after being permitted to reenter  the  United States he was granted a duplicate certificate of identity and stated his occupation as farmer (one of the classes prohibited from immigrating or reentering after leaving the country).  To me that means that there must have been some pulling of strings in the background . Friends in high places ?  Yes, indeed!!

Los Angeles, Cal. March 20, 1906
Inspector J.H. Jenkins
Stenographer J.J. Brady

in re Jew Joe , applicant for duplicate certificate
Jew Joe, sworn.

Q What is your name?
A Jew Joe
Q How many names are you known by?
A Just Jew Joe
Q How old are you ?
A 51
Q Where do you live?
A El Monte
Q What is your business?
A Farmer
Q Did you register?
A Yes, sir
Q In what year, month and day did you register?
A I was 38 years old , in 1892 or '93
Q Did the certificate that you first got in 1892 or '93 have a picture on it?
A No , no picture; the first one no picture, but that no good I no keep , throw it away.
Q When did you register the second time ?
A K.S. 18 or 19 ; got a picture that time .
Q What became of that certificate?
A I left it in the custom house when I went to China
Q Where at ?
A San Francisco. I go home to China they keep my certificate and give me another ticket and if I come back ,everything they keep down there
Q Are you sure you left your certificate with the Chinese Bureau at San Francisco?
A Yes, sir.
Q In what year was that ?
A I was 47 years old when I went home , coming 48 K. S. 28, 1st day, 4th Moon (May 8,1902)
Q When did you return from that trip to China?
A This year
Q What month and day?
A Chinese January 3, K.S. 31, I come to San Francisco, and I come to land on the 13th ; I stay on the boat ten days .
Q What boat?
A "Mongolia"
Q And you are sure you never registered but one time?
A One , that's all
Q Where were you living at the time you registered?
A St. Helena, Napa County
Q Where were you living when you threw the first certificate away?
A In Napa county. Time have to register second time every people say first one no account and I no keep, I throw it away .

Signed , Jew Joe

United States Immigration Service , Chinese Division

April 30,1918
Leong Shee, Jew Sun Yew and Jew Sun Teong
Inspector: J.B. Sawyer
Interpreter: C.Richards
Stenographer: E.C. Benson

Statement of alleged husband and father, Sworn
Q Have you any identification papers?
A  Witness presents certificate of residence No. 143657, issued in lieu of certificate No. 130256 and signed F.F. Sargent, Commissioner General of Immigration, Washington D.C. This certificate issued in the name of Jew Joe, age 39, residence,St.Helena, California, occupation, farmhand; height 5ft-7 1/2 inches; no marks of identification; dated Sacramento, California, May 3,1894.
Inspector's note:  Our record No. 10093/29 shows the landing of Jew Joe as an overtime laborer of Los Angeles, ex. S. S. Mongolia, January 26, 1906, landed on instructions in Departmental telegram of February 6,1906. The record shows that Jew Joe departed for China, May 9,1902, by S.S. Nippon Maru.  This record contains no photograph of the person to whom it refers, but the records identifies said person with certificate of residence 143557 which has already been identified with the witness.  Consequently, I am of the opinion the record under consideration is that of the present witness.

1 comment:

  1. excellent documentation and analysis of the puzzle...thanks. I am reminded of a case of someone coming for the first time with false papers in 1936. He flunked the interrogation as he couldn't demonstrate he knew much about Hong Kong geography and history, the place from which he allegedly came. He was denied admission, but offered the right to appeal, which he did. About a month or two later, his file showed a telegram from the Signal Corps (as I recall) that tersely stated: LAND HIM. No other information was provided, so it is a mystery as to why the decision was reversed. One speculation is that some bribery via his attorneys may have been at work.