Rosenberg v. Yee Chien Woo

LOCATION: Congress

DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1970-1971)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 402 US 49 (1971)
ARGUED: Feb 23, 1971
DECIDED: Apr 21, 1971

Facts of the case


Media for Rosenberg v. Yee Chien Woo

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 23, 1971 in Rosenberg v. Yee Chien Woo

Warren E. Burger:

-- this morning in number 156, Rosenberg against Yee Chien Woo.

Mr. Gordon, you may proceed whenever you’re ready.

Charles Gordon:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

In this case, an alien who has been an overstayed temporary visitor in the United States since 1965, claims a right to remain under a statute which grants special benefits to refugees.

The issue concerns the construction of Section 203 (a) (7) of the Immigration and Nationality Act which affords a haven for refugees who have been -- who are fled persecution in communist countries, who are unwilling or unable to return and who are not nationals of the country or area in which their application is made.

Respondent unquestionably fled communist China in 1953.

However, like hundreds of thousands of others, his flight stopped at Hong Kong where he was granted generous residence privileges, established a home, was married and had a child and continued to live for seven years.

In 1959, respondent came to the United States for the first time as a temporary visitor for business.

He stayed a few months and returned to his home in Hong Kong.

Potter Stewart:

He had established a business in Hong Kong, had he?

Charles Gordon:


Potter Stewart:

What kind?

Charles Gordon:

Merchandizing and clothing.

In 1960, the respondent again came to the United States as a business visitor and left his wife in Hong Kong to operate the family business.

Warren E. Burger:

When he left Red China, communist China, did he take his wife and child with him or did he live alone?

Charles Gordon:

He left alone and was married in Hong Kong, and the child was born in Hong Kong.

He had previously been married in communist China.

His wife died and he had five children whom he left there.

He was married a second time in Hong Kong and have an additional child in Hong Kong.

After his coming to the United States in 1960, the respondent continued to remain in the United States.

His wife and child followed him to the United States in 1965, also entering as temporary visitors.

The temporary stay of the entire family expired in 1965 and they continued to remain here.

Deportation proceedings were brought against respondent and his wife and a deportation order was entered against them with the privilege of voluntary departure.

Where they live in this country?

Charles Gordon:

In California.

Immediately, the respondent filed an application for benefits under a proviso to Section 203 (a) (7) which grants refugee benefits to refugees who have lived in this country for two years.

That application was denied by the immigration and District Director by the Regional Commissioner on the ground that the respondent was no longer a refugee since he had established -- firmly established a residence and a home in Hong Kong.

He then sought judicial review.

The District Court ruled in his favor, finding that he had not been from the resettle in Hong Kong because of this allegation that he have never intended to remain their permanently and that he harbored an intention to come to the United States at all times.

The Court of Appeals affirmed.