Wong Kim Ark and Asian American Civil Rights. Did you know that the reason we have birthright citizenship  today may be because of an Asian American?           Wong Kim Ark, a cook from San Francisco, was forced to go to China in 1882 because of the Chinese Exclusion Act. The Act was used to discriminate against Chinese people, limiting their ability to immigrate into the country and gain citizenship.              This shouldn’t have been an issue for Wong because he was made a citizen of the United States by the 14th Amendment, stating, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the State wherein they reside.”             Wong was born on American soil, so despite his parents’ immigrant status, he was allowed to travel to China for work and                          family matters, unlike many other Chinese people at the time.           This all changed in 1895 when Wong was unceremoniously barred from reentry by a customs officer. Wong was kept on a steamship until his trial, where it was argued that because he was ethnically Chinese, it meant that he was under the jurisdiction of the Chinese Emperor and the Qing government.             Eventually, this case went through the Court of Appeals and all the way to the Supreme Court. In this landmark case, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Wong and ultimately upheld the 14th Amendment.              To this day, United States v. Wong Kim Ark has been cited in over 200 other cases upholding the precedent of birthright citizenship not only for Asian Americans but people of all races and backgrounds. This story is brought to you by the Grand Rapids Asian Pacific Foundation  Join our community at