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Henry White (Lim Kok Heng)– Becomes citizen through Private Law

Henry White, alias Lim Kok Heng, became a naturalized citizen effective 25 August 1942, the date he arrived in New York City on the exchange ship MS Gripsholm. Private law 380 of the 78th Congress was approved by the President on 27 September 1944 to allow him to be naturalized.  The Secretary of State was instructed to have “the proper quota-control officer to deduct one number from the quota for the Chinese of the first year that the said quota is available.” “Henry White (Lim Kok Heng) was paroled to the custody of Mr. Kenneth M. White upon posting a public charge and departure bond in the amount of $500.”

“Private Law 380, Henry White (Lim Kok Heng),” 1944, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, White Henry case file, Seattle Box 827, file 7030/13659.

[This was significant because after the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed in 1943, the quota of Chinese entering the United States was 105. This extremely restrictive quota was in place until the Immigration Act of 1965.]

Henry White was originally excluded from entering the United States; his case was appealed, then he was paroled to the custody of Kenneth Matchitt White, his adoptive father, who posted a bond of $500. His Ellis island file was #174/405.

The file includes a copy of a 20 October 1943 Seattle Times newspaper article, titled “Chinese Orphan is Permitted to Stay.” Kenneth Matchitt White of Portland, Oregon found Henry, age 9, in a bar in Singapore in 1935. White placed the boy in a Chinese school, but Henry was interned when the Japanese captured Hong Kong.

Louis C. Hafferman, Immigrant Inspector investigated the case. He found that Lim Kok Heng (Henry White) was born in Singapore, Straits Settlement on 2 April 1926.

The father of Kenneth M. White, F. Manson White, was interviewed. He stated that he was born in Derby, England in 1868 and arrived in the United States in 1875. He had been living in Portland since 1888 and was a naturalized citizen. He was employed by the Portland School District as an architect with a salary of $3,000 per year. He had four children: Dr. Randall White, a Portland physician; Frederick M. White, editor on the Oregonian newspaper; Kenneth M. White, the adoptive father; and Katherine White, a former schoolteacher working in the defense industry in Los Angeles. Kenneth owned a farm in Springfield, Oregon a few years before becoming an electrician and currently he was a chief refrigeration engineer in the U.S. Army Transport Service. F. Manson White learned from his son that Lim Kok Heng was sold into slavery as a baby and mistreated. Kenneth felt sorry for him. Because Kenneth thought Lim Kok Heng was intelligent, he wanted him to receive a good education. Eventually Kenneth went through the adoption process. After Lim arrived in New York he was paroled under bond and went to live in Los Angeles with Kenneth’s sister, Katherine. The father, F. Manson White, stated that his assets were worth $10,000 in 1943 and that before the depression they were worth about $150,000. If anything happened to Kenneth, Manson would have the means to support Lim Kok Heng (Henry White).

Kenneth’s brother, Dr. Randall F. White, testified that he had been the Multnomah County physician for two years. He was not interested in Lim Kok Heng and would not want to accept any responsibility for him. Randall had only seen his brother three times in the last four years. As far as he knew the adoption papers were drawn up in Portland after Kenneth returned from the south Pacific war zone. Randall believed that his brother was mentally stable; a generous person who was fond of the subject and wanted to see that he was properly educated. Kenneth M. White sent Lim to Diocesan Boys School at Hong Kong. After the city was captured by the Japanese, Lim was interned. Other internees were Walter F. Frese, of Arlington, Virginia; John N. Raymond, of San Francisco, California; and M. B. King, of Salem, Ohio. Lim Kok Heng was taken aboard the Asama Maru and transferred to the MS Gripsholm with a group of American internees returning to the U.S. In 1943 Lim Kok Heng registered under the Alien Registration Act of 1940.

In a letter to the New York City Immigration Service from Kenneth White’s lawyer, Simon Hauser, he mentioned that White’s aunt, Mrs. Grace Calkins, the widow of a Rear Admiral, was willing to care for the boy at her home in Berkeley, California. Kenneth’s job required him to be at sea most of the time. Henry (Lim Kok Heng) completed most of his elementary school subjects in a year and a half in Hong Kong and was due to graduate from Virgil Junior High School with the highest possible grades in all his studies. He spoke English and “perfect Malayan and his services have been offered to Mr. Davis of the Office of War Information and to the CBS monitor station in San Francisco.”

Private bills S.1103 and H.R. 2707 were introduced by Senator McNary and Representative Angell.

There is no additional information and no photo in the file.