The Story of U.S.

Angel Island by Austin Chin


Angel Island is the second largest island in the San Francisco Bay area, with a land area of approximately 1.2 sq miles and a population of 57. Its location in San Francisco Bay made it an ideal location for an Immigration Station.
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Angel Island has seen many different uses in the past two centuries. In the early 1800's angel island was used for cattle ranching, but in 1863 during the Civil War, the U.S. army was concerned that Confederate Naval Raiders attacking San Francisco, and set up artillery batteries on the island. After the war ended, it became an infantry garrison for campaigns against Native American peoples. Finally, in 1910, it became a Immigration Processing Facility.


Most immigrants who passed through Angel Island were emigrating from China into the U.S., in an International migration on boat. Many of these immigrants came due to chain migration as well as other pull and push factors. Angel Island opened in 1910, and several hundred thousand immigrants passed through their despite many, many intervening obstacles.
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U.S Attitudes towards Immigrants

Many years well before Angel Island became an immigration center, tons of Asians flocked to America to improve lives for themselves as well as their families. They took low paying jobs (Which were still much higher paying than jobs back home) and sent most of the money back to their family. Because of this, American laborers resented them, claiming they were monopolizing all of the jobs. As a result, many strict immigration laws were passed.

Intervening Obstacles

The first intervening obstacle on the path to America was the Pacific Ocean. A hulking 10,000 kilometers long with nothing but water surrounding you on all sides. To make this voyage, Immigrants faced monetary issues, as well as terrible conditions once aboard ship for the next several months of their life. After they made it to Angel Island, conditions hardly improved.

At Angel Island, immigrants were faced with year-long waiting times and intense interrogations. Most of the time, Immigrants stayed in their barracks, carving poetry on the wall and waiting for entry. Of the Chinese immigrants, over 30% were deported back to their homes. These ridiculous waiting times were caused by Immigration laws, another obstacle on the journey to the U.S.

Due to the large flocks of Chinese immigrants that had come to the U.S. in previous years, many strict immigration laws were placed, making it much harder to be granted entry into the U.S. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 completely banned all immigration of Chinese Laborers, leaving a large gap in society. The gap was quickly filled with other asian ethnicities, most notably the Japanese, until the National Origins Act of 1924 restricted Immigration from all countries.

Why Did so Many Asians Immigrate?

Immigrants came to America with the hopes of striking it rich and sending money back to their poor family, or coming back to their village with a newly acquired wealth. Another cause was the symbol of American freedom, a freedom from prejudice simply based on their views.

Consequences of Migration

Most Asian immigrants who left their home to enter the U.S, were faced with good and bad opportunities. On one hand, they typically had better jobs and living conditions than they would back home, but they also were faced with serious racism and discrimination. They could earn more money than their family otherwise, but they were isolated and alone, never being able to watch their children learn and grow.

Wave of Migration

Angel Island was actually during one of the lowest points in Migration, due to the many strict immigration laws passed during its time. It also took place during the Great Depression, also hindering migration. Due to these circumstance, it is extremely strange that Angel Island was such a large immigration center.

Push/Pull Factors

Push Factors

Economic Hardships- Peasants in Asia moved to America to escape the economic hardship of rural China

Political Instability- The political instability caused by the Chinese Civil War caused many to emigrate away from China.

Pull Factors

Economic Improvement- Many immigrate to America to improve their families lives. Wages and job availability were much higher in the U.S, causing many to migrate away from their home towns.

Democratic Government- Many immigrants are attracted to America's freedoms and acceptance of many views.

Higher Education- Many people immigrate to America in order to pursue a better education.