The First Chinese American Lawyer In Texas

Host; Dean Leonard Baynes


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May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month and a time to honor the contributions of Asian and Pacific Islanders in the U.S. Dean Leonard Baynes, with the University of Houston Law Center, tells the story of Wellington Yee Chew, who received his law license in 1951 and is believed to be the first Chinese American to do so in Texas.

"Wellington Yee Chew was born in Mexico to a father who immigrated from China and a mother born in Mexico to a Chinese father and Aztec mother. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 banned Chinese immigration to the U.S. but the Chews entered under an exception for merchants.”

“Chew fought for the U.S. in World War II in the Battle for Paris and the Battle of the Bulge, earning a Bronze Star. In 1943, he became a U.S. citizen under a military provision of the nationality act and earned his law degree under the GI bill.”

“A Texas legal legend, he practiced criminal law in El Paso, became a highly-respected trial lawyer and was later appointed to the El Paso civil service commission. Today, a senior citizens center in El Paso is named after Chew.”