Category Archives: Temporary visitor

Benjamin Chi’s long fight to stay in the United States

Chi Benjamin 1941 photo
“Photo of Benjamin Chi, Precis of Investigation,” 1940, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chi Po Shen (Benjamin Exner Chi) case file, Seattle Box 365, file #7027/1110.
See blog entry for 3 December 2018 for information on Emily Green Exner Chi and her children Benjamin, Sylvia, and Vernon Chi who arrived at the Port of Seattle on 13 February 1941. Emily, Sylvia and Vernon were admitted as U.S. citizens; Benjamin was not. Benjamin’s case is complicated and this blog entry will explain what happened.

The Citizenship Act of 1934 was signed by President Roosevelt on 24 May 1934. The Act allowed any child born outside the limits of the United States, whose father or mother at the time of the birth was a citizen of the United States, to be a citizen of the United States.1 Benjamin was born in 1933. His siblings were born after 24 May 1934. Their mother was a U.S. citizen and they were all born in China. His siblings were considered U.S. citizen; Benjamin was not.

Benjamin Ch’i or Chi, Chinese name Po-Shen Ch’i, was born in Tientsin, China on 18 June 1933. He was issued Section Six Certificate #901 on 5 December 1940 by the Bureau of Police at Tientsin where he was attending Chiu Chen Primary School. When he entered the U.S. at Seattle in February 1941 he was classified as a temporary visitor under Section 3(2) of the Immigration Act of 1924.

Benjamin’s temporary visa was renewed several times. If his visa could not be renewed he could be deported. His mother and younger brother and sister were considered U.S. citizen and wanted to stay in the U.S. because of distressing conditions in China [World War II]. Benjamin was 12 years old; he could not be sent back to China on his own. If he was deported his mother and siblings would need to leave too.

In February 1946, Benjamin’s mother wrote to Immigration. She was trying, once again, to renew her son’s temporary visa. In December she had sent his Chinese passport to the Consulate in China to renew it. Three months later she still had not received the renewed passport and now she did not have the necessary papers to renewal his U.S. temporary visa.

Although the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed in 1943, there was now an extremely restrictive quota—only 105 Chinese were allowed into the U.S. Letters between Mrs. Chi and Immigration went back and forth and a warrant of arrest was issued for twelve-year old Benjamin in May 1946. The deportation order was suspended four months later. In February 1947 the Central Office of Immigration informed the Seattle office that the alien was no longer a quota immigrant chargeable to the quota of China. Benjamin Chi was allowed to stay in the United States. The long struggle was finally over.

1. Orfield, Lester B. (1934)”The Citizenship Act of 1934,” University of Chicago Law Review: Vol. 2 : Iss. 1 , Article 7. http://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/uclrev/vol2/iss1/7

Chinese Basketball Team touring the U.S. in 1929

Twelve basketball players from China were admitted at the Port of Seattle on 31 January 1929 as temporary visitors for five months each with a $1,000 bond. Two of them had Section 6 certificates; student status and could remain one year. The Office of the Governor General of Manila, Philippine Islands recommended that his office grant temporary visas to twelve members of the basketball team composed of Chinese students from Manila. The captain of the team, Domingo Rufino Choa, was a full blood Chinse from the Philippines.
In a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor, Immigration Service, Luther Weedin, Commissioner of Immigration in Seattle said,
               “All members of this party are of a superior type of
Northern Chinese, and most of them speak English
fluently. A Souvenir booklet describing the basket ball
team is enclosed.”

[They were not from Northern China. Most of them were from southeastern China, studying in the Philippines, and several were born in the Philippines. Unfortunately the souvenir booklet titled “Souvenirs China & Japan Tour, Chinese Basket Ball Team,” published by C. C. Lim of Manila, P.I., was not included in the file.]
[Most files for Section 3 (2), temporary visitors, do not contain much information. Usually a photograph is not included.]

Chinese Basketball Team 1929
“Photo of Chen Ping-Huang,” 1929, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chen Ping-Huang  case file, Seattle Box 1119, 10360/1-1

Chen Ping-Huang [10360/1-1] had attended St. John’s University and Kwang Hu University. His father was a well-to-do export merchant at Changehow near Amoy, Fukien, China (According to Wikipedia: a sub-provincial city in southeastern Fujian, China, beside the Taiwan Strait). His property was valued at $150,000 Mexican. His reference was Tang Chin-Yun of the University of Washington.

Lim Chu Cong
Lim Chu Cong (C. C. Lim), [10360/1-2] born 4 October 1902, Amoy, China; two years in Manila as merchant
A. Chua Ciong,
A. Chua Ciong, [10360/2-1] born 1 April 1894, Manila, P. I.

 

Choa Domingo Rufino
Choa Domingo Rufino, (Itsan Choa),[10360/2-2] born P. I.
Co Yong
Co Yong, [10360/2-3] born 8 June 1907, Amoy, China; student Manila, P. I.
Wee Guan Chuan
Wee C. G. (Wee Guan Chuan), [10360/2-10] born 3 March 1906, Amoy, China; student Manila, P. I.
Wee Guan Chuan stayed on as a student; graduated from the University of Louisville, Kentucky; and married Mary Virginia Payne (a Caucasian woman of Irish, German and English descent), of Evansville, Indiana. Their son George Richard Wee was born on 19 October 1931 in Louisville, Kentucky. They left the U.S. via Seattle on 15 July 1932 destined for the Philippine islands where Wee would be practicing medicine.

 

Lu Alice Catherine – U. S. Citizen born in Shanghai, China

Rose Wong, daughter of Gee “George” Wong and Minnie Lee Wong, was born 3 June 1906 at Reinbeck, Iowa. She married Andrew Kuei Lu on 18 March 1933 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Lu was a Chinese citizen in the United States with a Section 6 student exemption.

Kuei Lu and Rose Wong Lu returned to China in February 1934. Their son Thomas Laurence was born three months later on 20 May 1934 in Shanghai.  Alice Catherine Lu was born the next year on 4 August 1935.

In April 1939 Rose and her two children returned to the U.S. through Seattle. They were here to visit Rose’s parents in Minneapolis and would return to China sometime after Christmas. Rose obtained her certificate of identity 79613 when she landed in Seattle.

Thomas was considered a temporary visitor when he entered the U.S. His stay could not exceed one year. He was born four days before the Tydings-McDuffie Act of 24 May 1934 went into effect. The Act would have allowed him to be considered a U.S. citizen if he had been born after 24 May 1934. He missed being considered a citizen by four days. His mother and little sister were citizens.

Tydings-McDuffie Act of 24 May 1934
“Excerpt of Tydings-McDuffie Act of 24 May 1934 printed on the Report of Birth issued by the American Consulate at Shanghai”

Mrs. Rose Wong Lu obtained a Report of Birth for Lu Alice Catherine issued by the American Consulate at Shanghai and presented it to Immigration upon their arrival in 1939.

Lu Alice Catherine, Report of Birth
“Lu Alice Catherine, Report of Birth, Shanghai, China,” 1935, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lu Alice Catherine case file, Seattle Box 784, 7030/11928.

When the family arrived In April 1939, Alice Catherine Lu was reminded that “under the law you will cease to be a citizen if you fail to reside in the United States for at least five years continuously immediately previous to your eighteen birthday and fail to take an oath of allegiance to the United States of American within six months after your twenty-first birthday.”

Lu Alice Catherine photo 1940
“Lu Alice Catherine, Form 430 photo,” 1940, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Lu Alice Catherine case file, Seattle Box 784, 7030/11928.

O. B. Holton, District Director of the St. Paul District Immigration Service noted that the signatures in Chinese on Forms 430 were omitted because Rose Wong Lu, the applicant’s mother, was unable to write Chinese.

Rose Wong Lu, her daughter Alice Catherine Lu; and her son, Hou Chi Thomas Lawrence Lu (Seattle file 7027/819), visited with family in Minneapolis and were approved to leave the United States in April 1940. They left for China from Vancouver, B.C., via Seattle, on the Empress of Asia on 20 April 1940.