American Born Chinese – 美國土生華人

May 13, 2007

125th Anniversary of Chinese Exclusion Act in the U.S.

Filed under: Asia America, Eastern/Western Ties — americanbornchinese @ 10:10 am

My friend happened to talk to me the other day, and during our casual conversation, she brought up the question of whether I was interested in attending a historical exhibition in San Francisco that marked the 125th anniversary of the implementation of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882. She had heard about this event from her professor in her Asian American Studies class (particularly “Chinese American Personality” – the same class I had taken last semester along with the same professor). Having heard of this Act but not having acquired much knowledge about the specific details, I researched some information online out of curiosity when I had gotten home, wanting to find out more about what it was. The following is my own paraphrasing of what I’ve gathered from a few sites:

Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882

The purpose of the CEA was to altogether cease the immigration of Chinese laborers to the United States, which lasted for a total of ten years. Because of the high demand of low-wage workers seeking the availability of jobs (mostly in railroad construction), the news of the Gold Rush that swept through California like an epidemic in 1849, and current conditions/circumstances in China at the time, there was a huge population of Chinese immigrants that swarmed into the U.S. which eventually prompted the immigration law targeting their particular ethnic group.

However, even despite the fact that the act had been executed, immigration did not cease to continue as many Chinese persisted in entering the U.S. by the sly, yet common tactic of claiming familial ties to Chinese American (ABC) parents who were already U.S. citizens. These immigrants were known as “paper sons,” and this was in the aftermath of the San Francisco earthquake in 1906 and the subsequent fires that burned down City Hall and the Hall of Records which contained birth and immigration records.

Such an event like this indicates a mark in the history of racism and anti-immigrant sentiment in the U.S. This act was finally repealed in 1943 by Congress at around the same time when China and the U.S. became allies in the event of World War II, but it wasn’t until the Immigration Act of 1965 that large-scale immigration of different ethnic groups into the U.S was finally permitted.

Image Source (Original Website)

Sources:
Wikipedia – Chinese Exclusion Act (United States)
SF Gate – Anti-Chinese law had effect for generations (Sunday, May 6, 2007)

As long as my schedule permits, I’m strongly considering to attend this exhibition with my friend in order to learn more about U.S. history in this aspect of “Chinese in America” because I think it would be quite interesting to learn more.

The detailed information of the time and whereabouts of this event is at the end of the SF Gate article.

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