Renwei Chung: I’m from here. Is that enough?

Wong Kim Ark, born in San Francisco to Chinese parents in 1871, was the subject of the landmark Supreme Court case that established birthright citizenship.

“Where are you from?”

“Monterey, Calif.”

“Where are you really from?”

“My dad is from Taiwan and mom is from China, is that what you mean?”

In my life, these interrogatories are all too common. I’m not offended by this frame of mind, but I’m curious what my physical image conjures up and what inspires these daily encounters.

Am I seen as an economic or cultural threat? Am I viewed as an immigrant, an “anchor baby”? Or am I being dehumanized in some other way?

Maybe it’s hard for me to stomach the recently renewed attack on the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because I fear the root cause of these sentiments. As Mark Twain supposedly said, “History may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”

The strong anti-foreigner feelings of past generations are being revived as a rationale to make our country great again. At what cost?

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