In an interpretation of the immigration laws, the Supreme Court held that immigrants from India were ineligible to become naturalized citizens, and since the decision classified Indians as Asians, it eliminated a number of legal rights that immigrants from India had previously enjoyed.
Bhagat Singh Thind, a resident of Oregon, was an immigrant from the Punjab region of northwestern India. When he applied for naturalization in the United States, he appeared to have a good chance of having his application accepted. Although U.S. immigration law had since 1790 restricted naturalization to “white persons,” in the previous year’s case of
Nevertheless, in Thind’s case the U.S. Supreme Court held unanimously that immigration laws did not permit any persons of Indian ancestry to become naturalized citizens. In the official opinion for the Court, Justice
Hyung-chan, Kim, ed. Asian Americans and the Supreme Court: A Documentary History. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1992. Rangaswamy, Padma. Indian Americans. New York: Chelsea House, 2007.
Asian Indian immigrants
Naturalization Act of 1790
Ozawa v. United States
Supreme Court, U.S.