This article was published on Alliance for Justice's blog Justice Watch on May 14, 2019.
In the fall of 1895, Wong Kim Ark had just returned to San Francisco from visiting his parents, wife and oldest son in China. He had been born in San Francisco; it was his birthplace and his home. He had visited China before and had had no problems returning home. But this trip would be different. Immigration authorities denied him entry, forcing Wong to return to the steamship on which he had arrived. Little did he know that he would spend the next four months on the San Francisco Bay, waiting to find out if he would be allowed to enter the country of his birth.
Nearly 125 years later, many Americans have never heard of Wong Kim Ark or his landmark Supreme Court case. Yet, his story and his case are deeply relevant today, illustrating how vital our courts are in upholding our constitutional and human rights in the face of rising xenophobic and racist sentiment. As we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage month, it is important to reflect on the critical contributions Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) have made to this nation’s legal history amidst a backdrop of racism and xenophobic laws, policies and courts, and how that history connects to our current fight to protect our courts.
by the NAPAWF Legal Team
AP(Eye) on the Courts is our law blog written by NAPAWF’s legal team. The blog highlights and discusses significant legal cases and updates, particularly those that impact AAPI women and women of color regarding reproductive, immigrant, and economic justice.