Wong Kim Ark (defendant) was born in San Francisco, California in 1873 to Chinese parents. His parents never obtained United States citizenship and returned to China in 1890. Wong Kim Ark remained in the United States and never claimed citizenship or allegiance to any country besides the United States. He visited China briefly in 1890, and was allowed to return based on his status as a native-born citizen. He travelled again to China in 1895, but was denied permission to enter the country on the grounds that he was not a U.S. citizen. Congress had previously passed the Chinese Exclusion Acts, which prohibited Chinese people who were not United States citizens from entering the country. Wong Kim Ark brought suit to obtain entrance to the country. The district court found that he was a citizen and therefore exempt from the Exclusion Acts. The Supreme Court then granted certiorari on the government’s appeal.