Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation

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Quock, Jim (Wah Bo) : My Father Was a Paper Son by Steve Kwok
Year of Arrival 1929

From 1882 until December 1943, immigration restrictions, namely the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, made it nearly impossible for Chinese to immigrate to the United States.  It was the only law in American history to deny citizenship or entry into the United States based upon a specific nationality.  Only merchants, diplomats and sons of citizens were allowed into the U.S.  During the 1920’s 30’s and 40’s many immigrants from China arrived in the United States with purchased citizenships.  Those who utilized this method to enter the U.S. were known as “paper sons.”

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Rohr, Max, Fanni and Gertrude : To Brooklyn via Angel Island, - With Thanks For The Support of Family. by Andrea Bradley
Year of Arrival 1940

AIISF is pleased to present the story of Max, Fanni, and Gertrude Rohr, who fled Nazi-held Vienna in 1940 and made the arduous journey across Russia and China to reach Angel Island in June 1940.  They were among the hundreds of Jewish refugees who found new homes in the U.S. before the Holocaust.    

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Rubin, Jakob and Ernestine : Riding the Trans Siberian Railroad to Angel Island by Lia Dun
Year of Arrival 1940

Jakob Rubin and his wife Ernestine arrived at Angel Island from Vienna, Germany on August 28, 1940.  Jakob and Ernestine were both Jewish, and although neither directly stated their reason for leaving Germany, it can be assumed they were trying to escape the mounting persecution against Jewish people in the years directly preceding World War II.  In Vienna, Jakob worked as an office clerk buying and selling men’s clothes in a department store; however, according to his interrogation records, he “was forced to leave that business.”  His response hints at actions of Hitler’s early regime that forced Germany’s Jewish population out of employment (Krystallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, in which over 7,000 Jewish businesses were destroyed in Germany and parts of Austria, had occurred just two years prior).  Jakob also mentioned not being able to contact his brother in France for five months “Because it was impossible to get anything” and that his other brother in Vienna was no longer operating his business for similar reasons—“because it is impossible”—again suggesting the presence of the Nazi regime.  According to an account by Jakob’s brother-in-law Alfred Marill, at the time Marill Rubin left the country (Jakob mentioned in this interrogation report that his sister Klara and her husband Alfred came to the US with him and Ernestine on the same ship), 25,000 out of Vienna’s 30,000 Jewish residents were “fed by the community.”

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Samra, Dalip Singh : From Punjab, India to Angel Island by Samra Family and AIISF
Year of Arrival 1910

Hard work and perseverance will take you anywhere in this world, and Dalip Singh Samra learned that lesson very early.

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Scheuer, Erna and Julius : Jewish refugees from Germany by Judy Kawamoto
Year of Arrival 1940

Erna and Julius Scheuer, a married couple, arrived at Angel Island Immigration Station on August 28, 1940. They had been passengers on the ship the Rakuyo Maru leaving from Yokohama, Japan. They were interviewed by the Immigration Board on September 3, 1940. The interview was conducted through a German interpreter.

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Schrimmer, Manfred : A Tale of Four Cities, Two Islands, Eleven Testimonies, and Three Rulings by Tene Kember, edited by Kelsey Owyang
Year of Arrival 1940

 

Schulze, Charles : Tye Leung and Charles Schulze, an Untold Angel Island Love Story by Ted Schulze
Year of Arrival Born in U.S.

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Schulze, Tye Leung : Interpreter, Voter, and Pinball Aficionado by Lia Dun
Year of Arrival Born in U.S.

At age 12, Tye Leung Schulze ran away from home to escape an arranged marriage and ended up in a mission home helping to save girls from brothels.  She later became the first Chinese American woman to pass the civil service examination and receive a federal service position, as an interpreter on Angel Island, and at 24 or 25, Tye became the first Chinese American woman to cast a ballot in a presidential election.  A San Francisco Daily News article lauded her as “the first Chinese woman in the history of the world to exercise the electoral franchise.”  Her achievements contributed immensely in shaping the experience of Chinese Americans in San Francisco.

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Schwarz, Robert : The story of Robert Schwarz, a bank clerk from Vienna by Yulia B. Bartow
Year of Arrival 1940

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Shah, Mahesh : Mahesh Shah: Journey to California by Roy Chan
Year of Arrival 1965

  Mahesh Shah was born in Mumbai, India in 1943. He grew up in Mumbai and studied science at Wilson College. He was then admitted to Banaras Hindu University where he studied Mechanical Engineering for four years. After graduation, many of his friends wanted to study further in the United States, and so Mahesh also looked into Masters programs in U.S. universities. He eventually applied and was accepted to a number of programs including ones in Chicago, Texas, and Berkeley. Without knowing much about these U.S. cities, he decided on the University of California, Berkeley because he heard it was too cold in Chicago and that cowboys might shoot him in Texas.
 

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Siegried, Unger : A Summary of His Immigration File by Greg Anglemyer
Year of Arrival 1940

 

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Singh, Kehar : Becoming American: The Journey of Early Sikh Pioneer Kehar Singh by AIISF
Year of Arrival 1913

Valarie Kaur is an award-winning filmmaker, civil rights advocate, and interfaith leader who centers her work around the power of storytelling. She is the founder of Groundswell at Auburn Seminary, a non-profit initiative with 100,000+ members that equips people of faith to mobilize for social change. For the last decade, she has led national campaigns responding to hate crimes, racial profiling, immigration detention, and solitary confinement. She and her husband and filmmaking partner Sharat Raju made an eleven-minute film about her grandfather Kehar Singh, and recently learned more from AIISF and the National Archives about Mr. Singh's detention on Angel Island in 1913. Valarie will be starting work on a book this year that includes her grandfather's story.

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Singh, Hazara : Accountant Turned Farmer by Harjit K. and Hardeep K. Gosal
Year of Arrival 1913

Editor’s Note:  Twenty-one year old Hazara Singh “Janda” arrived at the Angel Island Immigration Station in 1913. He told immigration inspectors that he had worked as an accountant in India and was now coming to the United States to study mechanical engineering at a university in Berkeley. He brought $90 in gold and assured inspectors that his father would be able to support him in his studies. The inspectors were impressed by Singh’s appearance, and he was admitted into the country as a student after nine days in detention on Angel Island.  Some of that time was spent at the hospital “under observation” for trachoma.  Nearly ninety years after Hazara Singh arrived on Angel Island, his great-grandnieces, sisters Harjit K. and Hardeep K. Gosal, researched and wrote the following family history.  They found that while Singh was ultimately successful in getting admitted into the country, his time on Angel Island, and specifically the harsh treatment that immigrants received at the hospital, left a strong impression on him.

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