United States v. Wong Kim Ark
169 U.S. 649 (1898)
U.S. Supreme Court
United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898)
United States v. Wong Kim Ark
Argued March 5, 8, 1897
Decided March 28, 1898
169 U.S. 649
APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
28 Stat. 111. And it has since been decided, by the same judge who held this appellee to be a citizen of the United States by virtue of his birth therein, that a native of China of the Mongolian race could not be admitted to citizenship under the naturalization laws. In re Gee Hop (1895), 71 Fed.Rep. 274.
The Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, in the declaration that
“all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside,”
contemplates two sources of citizenship, and two only: birth and naturalization. Citizenship by naturalization can only be acquired by naturalization under the authority and in the forms of law. But citizenship by birth is established by the mere fact of birth under the circumstances defined in the Constitution. Every person born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, becomes at once a citizen of the United States, and needs no naturalization. A person born out of the jurisdiction of the United States can only become a citizen by being naturalized, either by treaty, as in the case
of the annexation of foreign territory, or by authority of Congress, exercised either by declaring certain classes of persons to be citizens, as in the enactments conferring citizenship upon foreign-born children of citizens, or by enabling foreigners individually to become citizens by proceedings in the judicial tribunals, as in the ordinary provisions of the naturalization acts.
The power of naturalization, vested in Congress by the Constitution, is a power to confer citizenship, not a power to take it away. “A naturalized citizen,” said Chief Justice Marshall,
Twiss, in his work on the Law of actions, says that
“natural allegiance, or the obligation of perpetual obedience to the government of a country wherein a man may happen to have been born, which he cannot forfeit, or cancel, or vary by any change of time or place or circumstance, is the creature of civil law, and finds no countenance in the law of nations, as it is in direct conflict with the incontestable rule of that law.”
Vol. 1, p. 231.
Before the Revolution, the view of the publicists had been thus put by Vattel:
“The natives, or natural-born citizens, are those born in the country of parents who are citizens. As the society cannot exist and perpetuate itself otherwise than by the children of the citizens, those children naturally follow the condition of their fathers, and succeed to all their rights. The society is supposed to desire this in consequence of what it owes to its own preservation, and it is presumed as matter of course that each citizen, on entering into society, reserves to his children the right of becoming members of it. The country of the fathers is therefore that of the children, and these become true citizens merely by their tacit consent. We shall soon see whether, on their coming to the years of discretion, they may renounce their right, and what they owe to the society in which they were born. I say that, in order to be of the country, it is necessary that a person be born of a father who is a citizen; for, if he is born there of a foreigner, it will be only the place of his birth, and not his country.”
Book I, c.19, § 212.
“The true bond which connects the child with the body politic is not the matter of an inanimate piece of land, but the moral relations of his parentage. . . . The place of birth produces no change in the rule that children follow the condition of their fathers, for it is not naturally the place of birth that gives rights, but extraction.”
And to the same effect are the modern writers, as for instance,
In his work on Conflict of Laws, § 48, Mr. Justice Story, treating the subject as one of public law, said:
“Persons who are born in a country are generally deemed to be citizens of that country. A reasonable qualification of the rule would seem to be that it should not apply to the children of parents who were in itinere in the country, or who were abiding there for temporary purposes, as for health or curiosity, or occasional business. It would be difficult, however, to assert that, in the present state of public law, such a qualification is universally established.”
and this was reenacted June 22, 1874, in the Revised Statutes, section 1992. .
The words “not subject to any foreign power” do not, in themselves, refer to mere territorial jurisdiction, for the persons referred to are persons born in the United States. All such persons are undoubtedly subject to the territorial jurisdiction of the United States, and yet the act concedes that nevertheless they may be subject to the political jurisdiction of a foreign government. In other words, by the terms of the act, all persons born in the United States, and not owing allegiance to any foreign power, are citizens.
The allegiance of children so born is not the local allegiance arising from their parents’ merely being domiciled in the country, and it is single and not double, allegiance. Indeed, double allegiance, in the sense of double nationality, has no place in our law, and the existence of a man without a country is not recognized.
In his Lectures on Constitutional Law, p. 79, Mr. Justice Miller remarked:
“If a stranger or traveler passing through, or temporarily residing in, this country, who has not himself been naturalized and who claims to owe no allegiance to our Government, has a child born here which goes out of the country
with its father, such child is not a citizen of the United States, because it was not subject to its jurisdiction.”
Rafael Cruz is not eligible to run for the Presidency.