Lapina v. Williams, 232 U.S. 78 (1914)

Author: U.S. Supreme Court

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Lapina v. Williams, 232 U.S. 78 (1914)

Lapina v. Williams

No. 7

Submitted December 1, 1913
Decided January 5, 1914
232 U.S. 78



The authority of Congress over the admission of aliens to the United States is plenary.

Congress may exclude aliens altogether, or it may prescribe the terms and conditions upon which they may come into or remain in this country.

The provisions of the Immigration Act of 1907 respecting admission and deportation apply to an alien who, having remained in this country for more than three years after first entry, and having gone abroad for a temporary purpose with the intention of returning, again seeks and gains admittance to the United States.

The Immigration Acts of 1903 and 1907 were revisions or compilations with some modifications of previous acts pertaining to the same subject, and those acts having confined the exclusion and deportation provisions to "alien immigrants," and that term having been construed as not including aliens once admitted and returning after temporary absence, the omission of the word "immigrant" and application of those provisions to "aliens" will be construed as indicating an intention to extend the act to all aliens, whether entering for the first time or returning after a temporary absence.

Debates in Congress are unreliable as a source from which to discover the meaning of the language employed in an act, and this Court is not disposed to go beyond the reports of the committees.

It is only in a doubtful case that the title of an act can control the meaning of the enacting clauses, and so held that the use of the word "immigration" in the title of the Act of 1907 cannot overcome the fact, as evidenced by the act itself, that Congress intended its provisions to apply to all aliens, and not exclusively to alien immigrants. Taylor v. United States, 207 U.S. 120, distinguished.

179 F. 839 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the deportation provisions of the Alien Immigration Act of 1907, are stated in the opinion.


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Chicago: U.S. Supreme Court, "Syllabus," Lapina v. Williams, 232 U.S. 78 (1914) in 232 U.S. 78 Original Sources, accessed August 9, 2022,

MLA: U.S. Supreme Court. "Syllabus." Lapina v. Williams, 232 U.S. 78 (1914), in 232 U.S. 78, Original Sources. 9 Aug. 2022.

Harvard: U.S. Supreme Court, 'Syllabus' in Lapina v. Williams, 232 U.S. 78 (1914). cited in 1914, 232 U.S. 78. Original Sources, retrieved 9 August 2022, from