Hom Jin Fung
Hom Jin Fung left Sam Ah Hong village in China’s Hoy Ping District in the 1910s. He worked as a carpenter on an Indian vessel for about three years prior to entering the United States. After entering the United States, Hom opened Wing Lee Laundry in Bayonne, NJ. In November 1925, the United States Customs Service received an anonymous letter stating that Hom was working at Wing Lee Laundry without proper identification. Lewis B. Reynolds, an immigration inspector, and an unnamed bilingual translator, interrogated Hom. Like other detainees thought to be in violation of the Chinese Exclusion Act, he was questioned very thoroughly. Reynolds asked questions involving Hom’s immigration history, past work, family, and current employment at the laundry. Hom stated that he had a wife who resided in his native village and that they had no children. Later, he contradicted himself by admitting that he had a son in China with his wife.
When asked for proper documentation allowing him to live and work in the United States, Hom claimed it was accidentally burnt at the laundry. A second interrogation was held a few days later, during which the authorities found inconsistencies with Hom’s previously given statements. For instance, he admitted that he did not possess the appropriate paperwork that would allow him to live and work in the United States. Based on the interrogations and anonymous letter, Reynolds decided that deportation was necessary. In February 1926, the United States Commissioner for the District of New Jersey charged Hom as a “Chinese alien laborer unlawfully [residing] within the United States.” The Commissioner called for his immediate detainment and deportation, even though he lacked legal representation and a trial had not yet been held.
Hom’s case was heard upon appeal in the United States District Court in Trenton, although it took nearly a year for the case to appear before the judge. Immigration officials like Reynolds did not want Hom Jin Fung’s deportation decision to go to court because many Chinese immigrants exhausted the legal system attempting to appeal their exclusion decision. The success rate for appealing an exclusion decision with legal representation was high, even though this was not the case with Hom. Chinese immigrants were very knowledgeable about the laws and requirements for entrance into the United States. Many immigrants hired lawyers to assist entry or reentry into the United States. Lawyers and lobbyists were valuable allies for Chinese immigrants. Generally, immigration officials more readily believed rumors over testimony from immigrants (such as that in the anonymous letter), making their cases before immigration officials outside the legal system difficult. The relatively new immigration policies at the time, combined with racialized perceptions of Chinese immigrants, allowed for corruption within the system. On April 30, 1927, Hom was deported to the Republic of China via California.
-- Urban, Andy, Capone, Kim, Gunther, Rudy, Hassanein. Shereen, Mitwally, Hoda
Treasury Department, U.S. Customs Service, November 28, 1925
Letter sent to the Treasury Department U.S. Customs Service containing an unsigned handwritten letter with information on Hom Jin Fung’s “illegality” within the United States and the address of his laundry. The letter is written in broken English, and perhaps was sent by another immigrant launderer who viewed Hom as an economic competitor.
Transcript of Immigration Inspector Lewis B. Reynolds’s first interrogation with Hom Jin Fung [page 1 of 2]
Transcript of Immigration Inspector Lewis B. Reynolds’s first interrogation with Hom Jin Fung at the Wing Lee Laundry in Bayonne, NJ. Chinese immigrants suspected to be in violation of the Chinese Exclusion Act were subject to similar interrogation questions and methods as Hom.
United States of America Vs Hom Jin Fung
Many Chinese immigrants like Hom Jin Fung, tried to appeal their deportation decisions. Immigration officers, like Lewis B. Reynolds tried to keep the deportation decision away from the court systems because many Chinese immigrants would exhaust the legal system to overturn the exclusion decision. In Hom’s case, he appealed his deportation, but did not have any legal representation.
A Photograph found in Bayonne, NJ
A photograph found in Wing Lee’s laundry at 186 Broadway in Bayonne, during the raid that led to the detention and eventual deportation of Hom Jin Fung. It is unclear whose image appears in the photo. Immigration inspectors seized the photography, under the suspicion that it might be used in order to falsify papers for Chinese immigrants attempting to enter the United States illegally.
Transcript of Immigration Inspector Lewis B. Reynolds’s first interrogation with Hom Jin Fung [page 2 of 2]
Transcript of Immigration Inspector Lewis B. Reynolds’s first interrogation with Hom Jin Fung at the Wing Lee Laundry in Bayonne, NJ. Chinese immigrants suspect to be in violation of the Chinese Exclusion Act were subject to similar interrogation questions and methods as Hom.