wong kim ark

The 14th Amendment: It’s kind of a big deal.

Today in 1868, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified. It covers citizenship (children of non-citizens born on U.S. soil are citizens from birth), equal protection under the law, and other issues, many of which were raised by the end of the Civil War.

The 14th was the groundwork for a number of landmark Supreme Court cases, including Brown v. Board of Education, Roe v. Wade, and U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark, pictured above. Wong Kim Ark, the son of Chinese immigrants who was born in the U.S., was denied rentry into the U.S. after a visit to China. He sued, and won, in 1898: SCOTUS reaffirmed his citizenship, making him one of the earliest Asian American citizens.

Form 430 - Application of Alleged American Citizen of the Chinese Race for Preinvestigation of Status by Wong Kim Ark, 7/14/1931

File Unit: Return Certificate Application Case File of Chinese Departing – Wong Kim Ark (12017/42223), 1890 - 1931Series: Return Certificate Application Case Files of Chinese Departing, 1912 - 1944Record Group 85: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 - 2004

With this form, Wong Kim Ark applied for pre-investigation of his status as an American citizen before he went on a trip abroad. The document is written in both Chinese and English and is addressed to the Commissioner of Immigration at San Francisco. Wong Kim Ark was born in San Francisco in 1873. In 1894, Wong went to China for a visit. He returned to the United States in August 1895, but was denied entry by the San Francisco Collector of Customs on the claim that, although born at 751 Sacramento Street in San Francisco, Wong was not a citizen. Wong appealed for judicial review of this decision by executive branch immigration officials. From the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, his case went through the Circuit Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court. The precedent-setting final ruling was that U.S.-born descendants of immigrants could not be denied citizenship, regardless of their ethnicity or the nationality of their ancestors.

See the other items from Wong Kim Ark’s case file »

via DocsTeach