Chae Chan Ping, a Chinese immigrant, lived and worked as a laborer in San Francisco from 1875 until 1887. In 1887 he returned to China for a visit. Prior to leaving he obtained a certificate that confirmed his right to re-enter the United States. Upon his return, however, custom-house officers denied him re-entry. While he was abroad, Congress passed legislation that barred Chinese laborers from returning to the United States. Chae Chan Ping filed a writ of habeas corpus asking the court to order his re-entry; however, his petition was denied. On March 28 and 29, 1889, his case was argued before the United States Supreme Court.
On May 13, 1889, the Court handed down a decision which sided with the government. Justice Field delivered the opinion of the Court– which you can read at https://goo.gl/nnsoE1. The decision includes a history lesson on the relations between China and the United States in the 1800s. Justice Field explains what triggered the new law — Chinese immigrants were taking jobs away from Americans, and not assimilating, which fueled conflict between the races. Congress responded by restricting Chinese immigration.