United States v. Wong Kim Ark

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UNITED STATES V. WONG KIM ARK, 169 U.S. 649 (1898), was an important interpretation of the clause in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution declaring that "all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction there of, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." Wong Kim Ark was an American-born Chinese laborer whose parents were ineligible for citizenship under the naturalization laws. On his return to the United States after a visit to China, an attempt was made to debar him from entry under the Chinese Exclusion Act. Claiming that his birth in San Francisco, California, conferred citizenship, Wong Kim Ark secured a writ of habeas corpus. His case eventually reached the Supreme Court, which upheld his contention, with two justices dissenting. The principle laid down in this decision also served to protect Asians born in the United States against discriminatory state legislation.


Schuck, Peter H., and Rogers M. Smith. Citizenship Without Consent: Illegal Aliens in the American Polity. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1985.

Shklar, Judith N. American Citizenship: The Quest for Inclusion. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991.

W. A.Robinson/a. r.

See alsoChinese Americans ; Citizenship ; Constitution of the United States ; Naturalization .

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United States v. Wong Kim Ark