Interracial Marriages:III. White wives of Chinese lose U. S. Citizenship

   In 1907 the Expatriation Act provided that any female U.S. citizen who married a foreigner was stripped of her U.S. citizenship. This proved to be a significant problem for women who became stateless when their husband's country of citizenship did not automatically grant the woman citizenship as a result of her marriage, or when they married men who had lost their citizenship. This law was especially problemsome for U. S. born Chinese and other Asian women.  U.S.-born Asian women who married noncitizens they lost their citizenship and could not regain American citizenship through naturalization even after their marriage ended because they in marrying noncitizens, they themselves became aliens ineligible to citizenship under the Naturalization Act. 
    The 1922 Cable Act partially repealed the Expatriation Act. The Cable Act made some women's citizenship independent of their husbands' status. No female citizen could lose her U.S. citizenship as a result of her marriage to an alien as long as her foreign husband was racially eligible to become a citizen. The Cable Act did not help women married to aliens ineligible to citizenship such as Chinese men. Any such woman would cease to be an American citizen upon marriage to an alien, and she could not regain her citizenship without renouncing her marriage. This provision ensured that white women marrying foreign-born Asian men also lost their U.S. citizenship.  In addition, U.S.-born Asian women who married foreign-born Asian men , a much larger number of women, also lost their citizenship.
       An amendment in 1931 removed some of these barriers, providing that any woman who was born a U.S. citizen, but had lost citizenship because of her marriage, would not be disallowed to naturalize because of her race, even if she otherwise would be racially barred from naturalization.

        Maggie Lyle Jeu was one such Caucasian American who married a Chinese citizen in 1918. Her husband, Jeu Ding, a Chinese-born merchant of Osceola, Arkansas, was exempt from the Chinese Exclusion Act because of his merchant status.  When Maggie Lyle married Jue Ding in Memphis, Tennessee she lost her U. S. citizenship which presented problems in obtaining a passport to travel to China with her husband and children.
Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle,
Mrs. Jeu Ding (Maggie Jeu) Seattle, Box 1395, Case 41560/4-6 & 41560/9-3.
     Did such legislation reclassify white women who married Chinese men as "Chinese" or were they still legally "white"?  Thus, when the wife of one Chinese man wanted to travel to China applied for a Return Certificate 430 required of Chinese who left the country who wanted later reentry to the U. S. her application confused Immigration officers who were uncertain if she needed to file a Form 430 because she was clearly not "Chinese," at least from a biosocial perspective.


  1. Hi John,
    Could you add that this was originally posted on my blog, www.ChineseExclusionFiles.com
    Thank you.

  2. I have found evidence that suggests that Chinese men who married white US citizens before 1907 could be naturalized. This would explain the need for the law by racist who wanted to prevent Chinese naturalization and limited citizenship to those born in the US under the 14th Amendment (Upheld in Wong Kim Ark).

  3. In my opinion interracial dating is a good thing. We shouldn't pick each other by skin color, it's not right!


About Me