Tag Archives: President Roosevelt

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Although the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed in 1943, there was now an extremely restrictive quota—only 105 Chinese were allowed into the U.S. Letters between Mrs.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

Marie A. Proctor – Seattle District Commissioner of Immigration

This is a continuation and expansion of last week’s blog entry on (James) Chin Shik Kuey. When Lily Eng gave her Uncle Jim a copy of his file, he told her that Marie A. Proctor, District Commissioner of Immigration of the Seattle District, was his godmother. This is what happened: In 1940, three-year-old Jim came to the U.S. with his father’s business partner. His father, Chin On 陳安, wanted him in the U.S. quickly because of growing fears of war. Once Jim arrived at the Port of Seattle, his father came from Yakima to the immigration office to pick him up and met Marie Proctor. It isn’t clear how or why it happened but at some point after meeting Mrs. Proctor, Chin On asked her if she would be Jim’s godmother. Maybe she was as taken by how cute Jim was in his little overcoat in the photo for his Certificate of Identity application.

Chin Shik Kuey M143 photo

“Photo of Chin Shik Kuey, Form M143,” 1940, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chin Shik Kuey case file, Seattle Box 807, 7030/12930.

As Seattle’s District Commissioner of Immigration, Marie A. Proctor’s name appears in almost every Chinese Exclusion Act file from 1934 to 1940 but no personal information or photo of her is included. Jim Chin (Chin Shik Kuey) gave these photos to his niece Lily Eng, Data Entry Volunteer, for the Chinese Exclusion Act files at the National Archives at Seattle.

Jim Chin Shik Kuey and Marie A Proctor, ca. 1948;
Photo Jim Chin Shik Kuey and Marie A Proctor, ca. 1948; courtesy Lily Eng
Photo Chin On family
Jim’s parents: Chin On and Wong Yoke Lon: brother Kim Chin, brother Don, Marie A. Proctor and an unidentified toddler.

In January 1934 Marie A. Proctor was named commissioner of immigration for the Seattle District by the U.S. Secretary of Labor. She was replacing Luther Weedin.1 She held the position until June 30, 1940 when it was abolished by President Roosevelt in a reorganization of immigration services. She was the first woman to hold this position in the Northwest. She was responsible for immigration duties in Alaska, western Washington and Oregon, and several seaports. Before her appointment Mrs. Proctor was active in the Washington state Democratic committee.2
Marie Proctor was married to Robert L. Proctor. Their only child, a son, Capt. Gordon E. Proctor, was killed in Tezpur, India, in November 1944. He was an Army Air Forces pilot and served in transport service across the Himalaya Mountains.3 Marie Proctor’s husband died in June 1945.4 Marie A. Proctor lived to be 83 years old. She died in Seattle in September 1964.5

1.“Woman Appointed,” Bellingham Herald, Bellingham, WA, 17 January 1934, p.1 & 5; (https://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 29 April 2018).
2.“Marie Proctor Finishes Job and Leaves City,” ,” Seattle Daily Times, Seattle, WA, 30 June 1940, p.3; (https://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 29 April 2018).
3. “Capt. Proctor, Former Skier, Dies in Crash,” Seattle Daily Times, Seattle, WA, 3 Dec 1944, p.8; (https://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 29 April 2018).
4. “Robt. L. Proctor Called by Death,” Seattle Daily Times, Seattle, WA, 329 June 1945, p.24; (https://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 29 April 2018).
5.“Mrs. Robert L. Proctor,” Seattle Daily Times, Seattle, WA, 13 Sept 1964, p.65; (https://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 29 April 2018).