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An introduction to the interrogations of chinese immigrants at angel island

The first stop on disembarking at the pier was the Administration Building where men were separated from women and children before undergoing the humiliating and embarrassing medical examinations. Those with incurable diseases or disabling ailments were excluded from entry and deported.

Men were separated from women and children. Detainees were housed in segregated quarters.

Asian and non-Asians were also segregated. Large ethnic groups, such as Chinese, Japanese, Indian, or Russian, were kept together.

Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940

Up to 100 detainees slept in dormitories in the barracks: The compound was surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards were posted in towers to deter any hope of escape. There were no newspapers or radio and usually no visitors, except for missionaries. The Board of Inquiry: Immigrant applicants were interrogated by a Board of Special Inquiry.

The Board of Inquiry was composed of: The interrogation by the Board of Inquiry consisted of up to three hundred questions. The answers given to the questions were then compared to those provided by family members and friends to the same questions.

Angel Island: Immigration Station

Any small discrepancies resulted in exclusion and deportation. The types of questions posed by the Board of Inquiry included those about the person's identity, place of origin, family, occupation, financial status and their planned destination in the United States. Detailed questions were asked about their village, the neighbors their homes and relatives.

The amount of time it took to take the testimonies lasted for hours and sometimes days. The Board of Inquiry would often repeat the same questions looking for any small contradictions.

  • Detailed questions were asked about their village, the neighbors their homes and relatives;
  • Together with the interviews, the poems - angry, heroic, wrenchingly forlorn, despairing, provocative, resistant - convey, as no secondhand or thirdhand account could ever do, what it was like to be Chinese and to be on Angel Island;
  • Detailed questions were asked about their village, the neighbors their homes and relatives;
  • One hundred thirty-five calligraphic poems survived, first discovered by a Federal park ranger after Angel Island was abandoned in 1940.

Any hesitation when giving answers were looked upon with suspicion. When the Board of Inquiry completed its verification process the decision was made to allow the person entry into the United States or deportation. The exact number of immigrants that passed through the immigration station is unknown because the fire in 1940 destroyed the Administration Building and most of the immigration records.

The site is now a federally designated National Historic Landmark administered by California State Parks and visited by many visitors and tourists to San Francisco Bay area - who also visit the famous Alcatraz Prison. The following William Taft video will give you additional important facts and dates about the political events experienced by the 27th American President whose presidency spanned from March 4, 1909 to March 4, 1913.