Here on the Pacific Coast the question of what rights a Japanese or Chinese alien can acquire in real property is of vital importance. A glance into the early law in regards to the rights of aliens in general will serve as an introduction to the problem. The early English common law would not allow an alien to hold land because of the poor policy of permitting the holding of land by one who owed allegiance to another sovereign. This was evaded by a system of uses and trusts. The early American law was the same. Again a system of trusts was used but the Virginia court held in 1832 that equity would not enforce such a trust except as a trust for the benefit of the state. All the courts before whom this problem has been brought have determined likewise.
Jack D. Freeman,
Notes and Comments,
The Rights of Japanese and Chinese Aliens in Land in Washington,
6 Wash. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/wlr/vol6/iss3/3