Friday, May 11, 2012

Ghosts of Angel Island

Angel Island Detention Center, 1910
Many early Chinese immigrants to San Francisco and beyond were processed at Angel Island, now a state park in San Francisco Bay; more than 97 percent of the immigrants processed on Angel Island were Chinese. Unlike Ellis Island in the East where prospective European immigrants might be held for up to a week, Angel Island typically detained Chinese immigrants for months--sometimes up to two years--while they were interrogated to validate their papers. Some detainees expressed their feelings in poetry carved into the wooden walls of the detention center; some of these poems may still be seen by visitors today.
In 1940, a fire that destroyed the administration building caused the government to decide to abandon the Immigration Station on Angel Island. The "Chinese Exclusion Acts," which were adopted in the early 1880's were repealed by Federal action in 1943 (by that time, China was an ally of the US in World War II); in conjunction passage of the War Brides Act, Chinese-American veterans began to bring their families to American outside of national quotas, leading to a major population boom during the 1950s.

No comments:

Post a Comment