Thursday, April 24, 2008

Kanga Wada first Japanese-born resident to pass citizenship test

The April 27, 1953 edition of The Argus-Observer reported that 66-year-old Kanga Wada was the area’s first resident who was born in Japan – and Issei – to pass the U.S. Citizenship test.

The McCarran Act, passed in 1952, first made it possible for Japanese-born residents of the United States to become citizens.

Wada, whose daughter Dorothy was named historian of the Ontario High School’s 1953 graduating class (for achieving the third highest academic rating in the class), came to Malheur County 23 years earlier, settling near Vale and clearing sagebrush land for planting. In 1953 he raised row crops on a farm near Ontario.

Wada was one of 100 Issei to join the citizenship classes set up by Malheur County educators. Rev. Norio Yasaki acted as translator for Wada during classes and the citizenship exam. Those who took the exam were not required to speak English but did have to demonstrate a knowledge of U.S. constitutional government. Wada’s exam was administered in Vale by Herbert Boss of Boise, area director for naturalization and immigration.

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