Chinese Immigrants Accused of Illegal Immigration Found Themselves in Prison Illegal immigration in the United States has been one of the most apparent issues during mid 1800’s and until today. Chinese community is one of the most numbered illegal settlers or immigrants all over the world. Even in mid 1800’s during the years were there was a massive famine and poverty in China, many Chinese people immigrated in the United States for better lives. The United States during mid 1800’s was known for being “Gold Mountain” who offered thousands of work opportunities as urbanization and industrialization was starting to mount.
The big population of Chinese people who responded to the need of inexpensive labor in construction and transcontinental railroad created a strong competition between them and the American workers. As a result, U. S. government created laws restricting Chinese immigration unless they have family connections in the United States. Imprisonment to anyone has always been the ostensible punishment of the United States to the illegal immigrants or even to those still under investigation.
Over the years, many testimonies have been given to the world about the inhumane experiences, injustices or unreasonable treatment towards the Chinese prisoners accused of illegal immigration. Chinese immigration how millions of people around the globe apparently perceive United States as a land of opportunities who will give them hope and money. In history, the mark of Chinese immigrants detained at Angel Island is only a part of Chinese’s obsession to enter the land of opportunities.
Stiff immigration laws were passed towards Chinese people when many American workers resented the Chinese laborers for their willingness to work even for a cheaper wage. Though you can not blame them because they were in deep desperation to survive at that time since China was experiencing economic poverty but Chinese laborers were unconsciously monopolizing jobs. Chinese people were been discriminated and hated due to this that created racial tensions. As a result, the Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882. Basically the law restricted Chinese people to enter United States without family connections.
But due to Chinese desperation to acquire work and send money home, “paper sons and daughters” were born. Many Chinese people who sought for entry brought false papers or documents to prove that they have a family connection residing in the United States. Moreover, Chinese residents would list numerous non existing sons and daughters in helping bringing others in U. S. Aware of this system, the U. S. Government critically inspected every Chinese individual entering the country. Not just those who have authentic documents were allowed to enter but also those who passed by bribe.
But those who were suspected since their claims could not be proven true or false were sent to Island Angel for further processing and interrogation. The unreasonable treatment towards the Chinese people in the Island Angel made the place more as a detention and deportation center making them literally prisoners. Officials at Angel Island with their suspicions that Chinese people were making fraud documents felt justified in treating the immigrants with contempt (Baumann). When officials were unsatisfied with their testimonies, they will be immediately sent back to China.
But those who stayed in the Angel Island were “interrogated at the barracks in a prison like atmosphere placed in a crowded communal living quarters for weeks, months and even years”. Many committed suicide because of humiliation. Moreover, “the interrogation process was very frightening for the detainees. The officers will ask them unreasonable and irrelevant questions to confuse and entrap them” (Lai, Lim, Yung 1991). Some of the apparent manifestations of Chinese frustrations and hardships in the Angel Island “are the poems that were carved and written on the walls in the Angel Island Immigration Station in San Francisco Bay.
Those poems record their hopes, frustration and anger as they waited, sometimes for months, either deportation or entrance to the U. S. ” (Su, Tang, Tom, Yang 1997). Those poems that have now been translated in both English and Chinese language reflect the early Chinese American life who experienced intense interrogation and discrimination before entering U. S. Their poems were able to describe the injustices committed against them. “Golden Venture ship on the other hand bearing 286 illegal immigrants” from China is another recent manifestation of people’s obsession to venture out in the United States for quick wealth.
Those Chinese people who were aboard the Golden Venture ship were just one of the few who expected to arrive unnoticed. But the seemingly golden land with the opportunities that the US can offer turned out to be a hellish arrival because of the strict and cruel U. S. immigration policy. The constant illegal immigration of the Chinese people can somehow be sympathize since their perseverance to enter United States illustrates their desperation to escape their over populated and communist country. Moreover, the working opportunities in their country can always be found in agriculture and not to mention their close knitted culture at that time.
Perhaps they saw that America with her industrialization and urbanization can give them wider career options to gain more wealth, freedom and sense of individuality. The impressive image of America fed through media, entertainment and literature often fascinates the whole world. This became a big motivating factor that encourages immigrants to take risk. While the Chinese refugees or illegal immigrants were put into a political asylum, they were temporarily put in prison. “To pass their time, the Chinese prisoners folded and assembled paper models.
Some of the models were given as gifts to those who helped their cause”. From creating poems and making artistic figures out of folded paper reflects Chinese culture, artistry and the profundity of their human nature. It makes one reflects that giving them opportunities, they can make many artistic and creative achievements. But the bitterness of strict illegal immigration and the unfortunate circumstances they have in China at that time restricted them to fully explore their potentials and skills in this very competitive world.
The Golden venture event that caught the attention of media and that was even adapted into films and documentaries became a symbol of growing national concern towards illegal immigration. Many American people feared that even though there is a harsher and persistent illegal immigration policy in the U. S. , there is still no guarantee. The Golden Venture event assured most Americans that illegal immigration is very possible every now and then despite the austere immigration policies. Many believe that organized crimes and terrorism that are happening in U. S. have been linked to illegal immigration.
In today’s world especially after September 11 world trade bombing, U. S. government is suspicious on every migrant fearing that he or she might be a terrorist that may threat human security. They critically examines the background and social orientation of every migrant to make sure that this migrant will not hinder political, cultural and moral development of the U. S. society. However, the growing number of illegal immigration not just of Chinese people depicts how many people cleverly outwit the law. Aside from the possibility of the terrorist attacks, illegal immigration for most Americans will also lead to exploitation of culture.
Immigrants after all came from different religion, culture and race. Too much liberation of thoughts and ideas caused by multicultural is not beneficial somehow since it may create unhealthy transformation. Ultimately, illegal immigration will pave the way for the explosion of population, conflicting ideologies, environment, demography and financial problems to the government. Many sympathize with illegal immigrants especially if they were only forced for illegal immigration due to desperation and poverty. However with a fair evaluation of the problems, people can’t sometimes blame U. S. Government.
They would only want to secure the protections of Americans towards the possible terrorist attacks. However, to treat them like criminals or prisoners for further interrogations just like what happened in Angel Island was inhumane. Political asylum with the chance to properly defend themselves, giving them the benefit of the doubt, just like what happened in the Golden Venture was more reasonable. Reference: Baumann, S. “Teaching the Chinese Immigrant’s Story- Angel Island (1910-1940)”. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona online. Retrieved on February 27, 2009 from http://www.
csupomona. edu/~tassi/angel. htm Lai, H. M. , Lim, G. , Yung, J. (1991). “Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island. Seattle and London: University of Washington Press. Su, J. , Tang, E. , Tom, K. , Yan, B. (1997). About Angel Island from the Angel Island Association. Modern American Poetry online. Retrieved on February 27, 2009 From http://www. english. illinois. edu/MAPS/poets/a_f/angel/about. htm Editorial of the New York (2006). “Golden Venture”. New York The Sun online. Retrieved on February 27, 2009 from http://www. nysun. com/editorials/golden-venture/31921/