What does Wong Kim Ark’s birthright citizenship case
By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang
Growing up, my immigrant parents often told me that someday I could be president of the United States because, unlike them, I was a “natural-born citizen.” In high school, my friends and I had our VPs and cabinets already picked out and we impatiently counted down the impossibly many years until we would finally turn 35.
As far as we knew, our youth was the only barrier.
The law seems so straightforward on paper. The Fourteenth Amendment declares that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.” And yet Asian Americans had to fight for that right.
Wong Kim Ark was a child of immigrants, born in San Francisco in 1873. When he was 17, he went to China and was allowed to return because he was a “native-born” U.S. citizen. However, when he went to China again at 21 to visit family, he was denied re-entry into the U.S. Supported by the community, his case to be recognized as a U.S. citizen went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. On the basis of the Fourteenth Amendment, in 1898, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that everyone born on U.S. soil, regardless of race and ethnicity, is a U.S. citizen.
The United States is one of the few countries that allows citizenship jus soli, or by soil, also known as birthright citizenship.
We belong here.
Sometimes I have to remind myself.
This past week was the second anniversary of the tragic spa shootings in Atlanta, where eight individuals were killed, six of whom were Asian American women. Asian Americans responded with grief and fear, but also with community and resolve.
“This anniversary is painful for myself and the Asian American community, as it serves as a reminder of hate we have and continue to face,” said Rep. Grace Meng (NY-06), First Vice Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC). “Senseless acts of gun violence have taken away many of our loved ones, including those killed just months ago in the horrible shootings at Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay. We must honor the memories of all those we have lost by working hard to create safe communities for all Americans and continuing to stand up to hate and violence wherever they occur.”
In Texas, legislators have tempered a controversial bill to prohibit citizens of China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia from buying property to now allow dual citizens and permanent residents to purchase property in the state. However, another bill now aims to prohibit Texas universities from accepting students who are citizens of China, Iran, North Korea, or Russia, or are undocumented.
“Because we raised our voices, the [Texas Legislature] has amended #SB147, easing restrictions for dual citizens and green card holders. But it's still a fundamentally racist bill as it unfairly targets H1B visa holders, students, and refugees from exercising their full property rights,” wrote RiseAAPI, a progressive Texas-based organization.