Angel Island

Angel Island

Written on 10/15/2022

Angel Island Immigration Station, formally United States Immigration Station at Angel Island, the principal immigration facility on the West Coast of the United States from 1910 to 1940. It is located in the San Francisco Bay, near Alcatraz Island.

 It functioned as both an immigration and deportation facility, at which some 175,000 Chinese and about 60,000 Japanese immigrants were detained under oppressive conditions, generally from two weeks to six months, before being allowed to enter the United States.

Unlike Ellis Island, where Europeans were subject to restrictions that precluded entrance for some but not most immigrants, the Angel Island Immigration Station employed discriminatory policies that were used to prevent Asians from immigrating. This approach was an outgrowth and implementation of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which had resulted from years of racial hostility by white Americans against immigrant Chinese laborers.

Numerous carvings and writings in several languages have been found on the barracks walls of the Angel Island Immigration Station. Some are simple statements, the equivalent of "I was here" or a name with a date. Still, other writings have yet to be translated and understood.

The overwhelming majority of these remarkable writings, however, are poems written in Chinese, many of them made all the more impressive for having been carved into the wooden walls. More than 135 of these poems have been recorded.


"America has power, but not justice. In prison, we were victimized as if we were guilty. Given no opportunity to explain, it was really brutal. I bow my head in reflection but there is nothing I can do."

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