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Ports of Entry, Ports of Departure

Descriptive

Language
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English
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Digital exhibition
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Chinese Exclusion in New Jersey: Immigration Law in the Past and Present
DateTime (encoding = w3cdtf); (point = start); (qualifier = exact)
2012
AssociatedEntity
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Curator
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Urban, Andy
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Exhibition section
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Name
Chinese Exclusion and the Establishment of the Gate-keeping Nation
Detail
The popular history of immigration to the United States has for the most part focused on European experiences and stories. The history of Chinese immigration offers different lessons. When Chinese immigration began with the California Gold Rush it was in many cases welcomed. By the 1870s, however, the United States experienced the rise of anti-Chinese movements, mostly originating in California, but growing to receive national support. These movements were spurred by an economic depression and the belief among white laborers that Chinese immigrants were “coolies” working for wages that undermined white standards of living. In addition, opponents of Chinese immigration accused the Chinese of being members of a “barbaric” and “heathen” race, who promised to introduce disease, drug use, and other pernicious cultural practices into American life. In 1875, Congress passed the Page Act, which greatly curtailed the immigration of Chinese women to the United States by requiring them to seek entry visas from American consular officials stationed in Hong Kong and other ports, prior to departure. Consular officials were predisposed to judge Chinese women as “immoral” threats who would work in prostitution in the United States. As a result, Chinese immigrants in the United States in the nineteenth century tended to be overwhelmingly male, and, ironically, furthered accusations by white Americans that they had no desire to bring their families and settle permanently. By 1880, both the Republican and Democratic parties supported restrictions on Chinese immigration in their official platforms.

In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which barred laborers of the Chinese race from entering the United States (merchants and students were exempted). Previously, the 1870 Naturalization Act, which formally extended citizenship to African Americans, denied Asian immigrants the right to naturalize as citizens. In 1892, the Geary Act renewed the Exclusion Act and added the legal requirement that all Chinese immigrants register with the government and carry photographic identification proving their right to be in the United States. The enforcement of the Geary Act affected American-born Chinese citizens alongside Chinese immigrants.

During Chinese Exclusion, which lasted until 1943 – and was not fully abolished until 1965 – Chinese immigrants adopted numerous tactics to circumvent what they felt were racially discriminatory laws. Chinese men and women immigrated as “paper” sons and daughters, for example, establishing fictive familial relationships to American-born Chinese and exempted merchants, in order to be admitted. Other Chinese immigrants illegally crossed the Mexican and Canadian borders into the United States, leading to the establishment of the Border Patrol in order to police their exclusion. As Erika Lee and Judy Yung note, “Chinese immigrants and Chinese American citizens lived their lives in the shadows, anxious about their immigration status, harassment by immigration officials, and personal safety.”
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Type
Exhibition caption
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Ports of Entry, Ports of Departure
Detail
While the majority of Chinese immigrants entered the United States via the port of San Francisco, and, after 1910, through the immigration inspection station located at Angel Island, the enforcement of Chinese Exclusion laws was nonetheless a national concern. On the West Coast, Seattle and San Pedro (serving Los Angeles) were also major ports of arrival for Chinese immigrants crossing the Pacific Ocean.

Some ports of entry are less well-known. Malone, New York, for example, referenced in a number of the files that were researched in this exhibit, was the port of entry for immigrants destined for the New York City area from Montréal or Québec, or even Vancouver, since it was located on an American spur of the transcontinental Canadian Pacific Railroad. Due to the immigration of Chinese immigrants to Mexico and the development of Chinese communities in Juárez and Tiajuana, immigration officials in El Paso and San Diego, on the American side of the border, expressed particular concern over transnational smuggling of Chinese in these areas.

Ellis Island, which opened in 1892, was the United States’ busiest immigration inspection station. While the majority of the immigrants processed at Ellis Island came from Europe, a significant number of Chinese immigrants arrived in the New York harbor as well. As the files in this exhibit document, a substantial portion of the Chinese immigrants coming through Ellis Island came from Cuba, Trinidad, and other locations in the Caribbean where Chinese communities existed. In addition to processing these immigrants, Chinese immigrant inspectors – as they were titled – were also responsible for approving the permitted departures of Chinese immigrants seeking to leave the United States and eventually re-enter (even if the actual port of departure was San Francisco or Seattle).
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TitleInfo
Title
Ports of Entry, Ports of Departure
Subject (authority = local)
Topic
Chinese Exclusion Act (1882)
Subject (authority = LCSH)
Topic
Chinese Americans
Subject (authority = LCSH)
Topic
Immigrants
Subject
HierarchicalGeographic
Country
UNITED STATES
State
New Jersey
Name (type = personal)
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Heater
NamePart (type = given)
Nicole
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Creator
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application/pdf
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image/jpeg
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image/x-djvu
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maps
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Geographic
United States--Emigration and immigration
OriginInfo
DateCreated (encoding = w3cdtf); (keyDate = yes); (qualifier = inferred)
2012
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http://hdl.rutgers.edu/1782.1/rucore00000002171.Document.000065226
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TitleInfo
Title
Chinese Exclusion in New Jersey: Immigration Law in the Past and Present
Identifier (type = local)
rucore00000002171
Identifier (type = doi)
doi:10.7282/T3D21WJT
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Rights

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The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code) governs use of this work. You may make use of this resource, with proper attribution, in accordance with U.S. copyright law.
Copyright
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Copyright protected
Availability
Status
Open
Reason
Permission or license
RightsHolder (type = personal)
Name
FamilyName
Heater
GivenName
Nicole
Role
Copyright holder
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Source

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Text or graphic (paper)
Extent (Unit = page(s))
1
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application/x-tar
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