Based on the Fourteenth Amendment, the Wong Kim Ark decision held that any person born on American soil is a citizen of the United States. Before this decision, jurists had disagreed about the citizenship status of babies born in the country to alien parents.
However, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized, by a 6-2 margin, that Wong Kim Ark was a U.S. citizen because of his place of birth. Writing for the majority, Justice
In regard to the phrase “subject to the jurisdiction thereof,” a person living in the country “owes obedience to the laws of that government, and may be punished for treason or other crimes.” The English common law, moreover, had long recognized only two exceptions to granting citizenship based on
The application of the Wong Kim Ark ruling went far beyond persons affected by the Chinese exclusion laws. The
Aleinikoff, Thomas A., et al. Immigration and Citizenship: Process and Policy. 6th ed. St. Paul, Minn.: Thomson/West, 2008. Salyer, Lucy. Laws as Harsh as Tigers: Chinese Immigrants and the Shaping of Modern Immigration Law. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995.
Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882
History of immigration after 1891
Naturalization Act of 1790
Supreme Court, U.S.