The Naturalization Process During The Late 19th And Early 20th Century

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In the late 19th and early 20th century, immigrants began seeking citizenship through naturalization. With a massive influx of immigrants that were not clearly White or Black, the government needed to establish racial definitions. There was a notion of superiority that was associated with being “white”. When immigrants soon realized the value and importance of “whiteness” in America’s society, they quickly applied for citizenship. In response to their movement, the government created racial and non-racial requirements that made it very difficult for people from African and Asian descent to justify their “whiteness”. The naturalization process during this time was a very intricate and complex procedure. American courts struggled proving …show more content…

This case helped set the precedent in cases that “whiteness” should be defined scientifically. Najour found naturalization and citizenship in America; however, the Court still was equivocal about whether they would classify “white” based on science or common knowledge. After seeing the success Najour had with his case, Takao Ozawa attempted to gain citizenship based on his assimilation into American culture. Ozawa provides a legal brief to demonstrate how he met both the racial and non-racial qualifications for citizenship. Takao had been born in Japan and came to San Francisco, CA in 1894. He received high school and college education in America, and eventually settled in Honolulu, Hawaii where he was a resident for over twenty years. Takao raised a family there, embracing the American culture and language. He attended American churches, rarely ever spoke Japanese, was loyal to the American government, and did not affiliate with the Japanese Consulate. Determined, Ozawa fought the government for eight years, and eventually found himself in front of the Supreme Court. Ozawa decided to place an emphasis on skin color in his justification. He asserted he was a “white person” by discussing the pigmentation of his actual skin, as he told the

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