Wong Kim Ark, United States v. 169 U.S. 649 (1898)

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WONG KIM ARK, UNITED STATES v. 169 U.S. 649 (1898)

This case, decided at a time when prejudice against people of Chinese ancestry was widespread, maintained the integrity of the citizenship clause of section one of the fourteenth amendment. Congressional legislation, known as the chinese exclusion acts, denied citizenship to Chinese immigrants, and a treaty with China provided that no subject of China in the United States could be naturalized. Neither the exclusion acts nor the treaty applied in this case, however, because Wong Kim Ark had been born in San Francisco. When he was about twenty-one he visited his parents who had returned to China after living in the United States approximately twenty years. On his return to San Francisco, he was denied entry to the United States on the grounds that he was not a citizen. The Supreme Court held, 6–2, that the government's policy in refusing naturalization to persons of Chinese ancestry could not constitutionally be applied to anyone born in the United States whose parents, regardless of ancestry, were domiciled in this country and did not have diplomatic status.

Leonard W. Levy

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Wong Kim Ark, United States v. 169 U.S. 649 (1898)

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