Chinese arriving at immigration stations around the country had to prove their right to enter the country. Subject to intense and detailed interrogations, immigration officials required Chinese to prove their identities, and their documents were often viewed as suspect. Angel Island Immigration Station (1910-1940) served as the main port of entry for most Asian immigrants.
Chinese Exclusion, first passed in 1882, was simple on paper but proved much more complex in practice. Enforcing the nation’s first broadly restrictive immigration laws required a large federal bureaucracy. A recreated immigration station within our exhibit explores both the immigrant experience as well as the immigration system that developed around enforcing Chinese Exclusion and subsequent restrictive immigration legislation.