CAPAC Marks Anniversary of Pivotal Supreme Court Ruling on Citizenship

Mar 28, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – One hundred and fourteen years ago, on March 28, 1898, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in the case of United States v. Wong Kim Ark affirming a bedrock American principle that every individual born on U.S. soil is an American citizen.  To mark the anniversary of this important ruling, the Chair and Immigration Taskforce Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) issued the following statements:

Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-32), CAPAC Chair:  “Wong Kim Ark made history when he stood up for his right to be an American.  Our nation is a nation of immigrants, and the contributions of each new wave are woven into the fabric of American life. Every American over the past 114 years has benefitted from Wong’s bravery:  he affirmed our rights as citizens and helped ensure that our nation would become a more diverse and inclusive country.”

Congressman Mike Honda (CA-15), CAPAC Immigration Taskforce Chair:  “There are several Supreme Court cases that have risen to national prominence and have had a lasting impact on the lives of AAPIs: Gong Lum v. Rice, Korematsu v. United States, and Hirabayashi v. United States, to name a few.  United States v. Wong Kim Ark joins these ranks and serves as a landmark victory for AAPI immigrants amidst tremendous anti-Asian sentiment at the time.  Today’s anniversary reminds us that we must continue to fight all anti-immigrant sentiment and recognize that, since our founding and at our very core, immigrants of all backgrounds are a fundamental part of American society.” 

Background:  

Wong Kim Ark was born in San Francisco to Chinese parents in 1871. After traveling abroad, he was denied re-entry into the United States on the grounds that he was not a citizen.  Wong Kim Ark challenged the government’s assertion because he was born in the United States, and the Supreme Court ruled in his favor.  Their ruling established that the Fourteenth Amendment allows citizenship to everyone born in the U.S., including those born to immigrant parents. 

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The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently Chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.