In 1895, in his early 20s, Wong Kim Ark returned to the United States, the place of his birth. He’d grown up in San Francisco, the son of Chinese immigrants, and was a cook by trade. His parents had returned to their own homeland in 1890, and he’d gone with them — but in the time since he’d established a transnational lifestyle. He’d started a family in China, but repeatedly made trips back to the US to work. In fact, he’d just met his first child, conceived on an earlier trip, and gotten his wife pregnant with a second. Such arrangements were not uncommon for Chinese-American men, as the Chinese population in the US was overwhelmingly male.
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