Last updated on: 1/30/2017 | Author:

Feb. 19, 1923 – US Supreme Court Decides in United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind That Asian Indians Do Not Qualify for Naturalization because They Are Not Considered “White”

“Bhagat Singh Thind, a native of Punjab, immigrated to America in 1913. Working in an Oregon lumber mill he paid his way through University of California, Berkeley and enlisted in the United States Army in 1917, when the United States entered World War I. He was honorably discharged in 1918. In 1920 he applied for citizenship and was approved by the U.S. District Court. The Bureau of Naturalization appealed the case, which made its way to the Supreme Court. Thind’s attorneys expected a favorable decision since the year before in the Ozawa ruling the same Court had declared Caucasians eligible for citizenship and Thind, as most North Indians, was clearly Caucasian. Now the Supreme Court found it necessary to qualify ‘Caucasian’ as being synonymous with ‘white,’ according to the understanding of the common man of the time… Because of the [9-0] Thind decision [United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind ], many Indians who were already naturalized had their citizenship rescinded. The Thind decision also meant that the Alien Land Law applied to the many Indian immigrants who had already purchased or leased land. After this ruling some landowners lost their property.”