1906 Early immigrant smuggling II: the arrest of Pang Sho Yin and "Ducky" White

Thursday, 23 June 2011 13:56 Amy Gwilliam
On June 30 1906, "Ducky" White and Pang Sho Yin were arrested near the Wabash Railroad freight yards on the outskirts of Detroit.  Ducky (no other name is given in the records) was a white Canadian from Windsor.  Pang Sho Yin, who claimed to be a San Franciscan by birth, had just sneaked across the border with Ducky's aid.   The arresting officers were inspectors from the Immigration Bureau acting on a tip.  They promptly put both of the arrestees in jail, Ducky for immigrant smuggling and Pang for unlawfully entering the country.

Pang's claims to American birth, although not backed up with papers of any kind, were treated seriously.  His first court hearing was on July 22nd.  The case was continued by the judge until September 18-October 30.  The judge seems to have decided against Pang, and on November 1, United States Commissioner Chapin ordered him to be deported.  The order was appealed by Pang's lawyer to the U.S. District Court.  On December 21, Judge Swan sustained the Commissioner's deportation order.

The American future of Pang looked bleak.   However, his lawyer decided to appeal again, this time bringing the case to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati .The deportation order was delayed until the appeal could run its course.  As was quite often the case with such appeals, that of Pang was successful.  On June 7 1907 the court decided that Pang's lack of citizenship could not be proved and ordered that he be discharged, a free man.

Ducky, who had already spent a year in jail waiting for the outcome of Pang's appeals, was then found guilty of smuggling illegal aliens.  He received a prison sentence of three months.  While he may have felt this to be unfair, he had at least one previous arrest for smuggling Chinese (in that case, in 1904, the Chinese also were set free) and in the eyes of the Immigration Bureau was a professional smuggler who deserved what he got.

Readers may be surprised that Pang and a good many other illicit immigrants went free.  However, it seems that the strong anti-Chinese bias shown by the Immigration Bureau and much of the Caucasian public was not always shared by the courts.   Those quite often ruled that an arrested immigrant had to be released because the Bureau had failed to disprove the immigrant's claim to citizenship.  

As a reporter named Ralph had noted back in 1891, "the fact appears to be that of 60 Chinese, on an average, who try to enter at San Francisco every month, without unquestioned authority under the law, a large proportion succeed. Less than twenty-five per cent are sent back to China."

We do not know why White's nickname was Ducky, incidentally, or why Immigration made no effort to use his real name. 

National Archives and Research Administration, Chicago, Immigration Service Chinese Case Files, 25/46
see also 1891  Early Immigrant Smuggling I: Julian Ralph's Investigation

Credits: The research behind this article was done by Ben Bronson, Grace Chun, Soo Lon Moy, and Gwen Moy