Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation

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Ginsberg (Guensberg), Rosa Sara : Looking for Love…or Just a Better Life by Anne Hawkins
Year of Arrival 1940

On March 7, 1940, 18-year-old, Rosa Sara Ginsberg, arrived in San Francisco, California aboard the Asama Maru.  An Austrian Jew, carrying a German passport, Rosa traveled alone to the United States via Shanghai, China where she left behind her parents, Bernhard and Erna Guensberg, as well as her sister and brother-in-law.

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Lee Masters, Margaret : Margaret Lee Masters, M.D. (Lee Jee Jung): From Churches to Pediatrics by Larisa Proulx
Year of Arrival 1900

In the early fall of 1940, sixteen-year-old Lee Jee Jung (Margaret) left war-torn Hong Kong with her seventeen-year-old brother Lee See Jung (Philip) to go to America. Margaret’s father, Rev. Shau Yan Lee, had sent for them.  Eleven years ago, he himself had gone to America to be a Baptist minister to the Chinese in Northern California and later, Mississippi and Texas.  Initially, Margaret’s father did not intend on bringing her to America. However, due to the death of her oldest sister and brother in China from typhoid fever around the time of the Japanese invasion in Canton, and her second oldest sister being no longer a minor, she and her brother were selected to join their father in America.

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Tom, William : From a young boy from Hoi Ping, Guangdong, China to a successful optometrist in Los Angeles, CA by Steve Kwok
Year of Arrival 1937

The following was written by Steve Kwok based on an interview by Roy Chan with William Tom in Monterey Park California on March 15, 2012.

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Kobayashi, Alice Marill : A Jewish Student Refugee in 1939 by Eva Martinez
Year of Arrival 1939

Edited by Alice Kobayashi/Carol Kobayashi 06/06/12

On May 17, 2012, Eva Martinez interviewed Alice (Marill) Kobayashi over the phone about her family’s journey to the United States when they fled Hitler’s persecution of Jews. Alice current lives in retirement home in Atlanta, GA.

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Yee, Tet Ming : Activist, Entrepreneur by Lia Dun
Year of Arrival 1932

After arriving at Angel Island on September 6, 1932, Yee Tet Ming (the true son of a Chinese merchant) was almost deported back to China for fraudulent entry when certain answers that he gave during the immigration interrogation did not match those of his father and brother.  As a result, he had to spend six months locked up on Angel Island while his attorney appealed his case to the higher authorities.  The experience would mark him forever.  After he was admitted into the country, he devoted much of his life to fighting racial discrimination, labor organizing, and helping to build a stronger China.  His work served to better the lives of Chinese Americans both during his time and for future generations.

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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 as 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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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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Pera, Philipos : Locked Out by the Quota Law: The Case of Philipos Pera, Assyrian Refugee by Judy Yung
Year of Arrival 1922

World War I and religious persecution wrecked havoc in the pastoral life of Christian Assyrians in Persia and the Ottoman Empire.  Their participation in the war, fighting on the Allied side with the Russians and the British, left them vulnerable to massacres by Turks, Kurds, and Persians of the Moslem faith.  By the end of the war, nearly 100,000 Assyrians, along with tens of thousands of Armenians, had been slaughtered, their homes looted, their lands destroyed, and their women carried away.  Approximately 10,000 Assyrians found shelter in Russian Transcaucasia while many others escaped to Europe, Australia, and the Americas.  Over 600 men, women, and children sought refuge in the United States, 200 arriving in San Francisco on Japanese ships from Yokohama between 1918 and 1922. Among them was 16-year-old Philipos Pera.

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Hernandez de Policarpo, Reyna : A Journey to Los Angeles for a Better Future by Victoria Gurrola
Year of Arrival 1989

The United States has served as a beacon of hope for immigrants for centuries.  Immigrant populations vary by state and city location. Current political debate has brought attention to high immigration rates to the United States from Mexico, backed by Conservative attacks on illegal immigration specifically.  Like many immigrants to America, Mexican immigrant hopefuls saw, and still see, America as a land of opportunity.

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Ma, Katherine : Portrait of a Female Chinese Immigrant by Janice H. Ma
Year of Arrival 1985


Katherine Kaitak Ma immigrated to the United States in 1985. Growing up in Guangzhou, Katherine and her family worked hard but always felt like there were more opportunities for them elsewhere. “I wanted to do more and live better.” said Katherine. Katherine felt limited under the strict regulation of the communist government and decided to move to Hong Kong as a teen. Leaving her family behind, she immigrated to Hong Kong and started a new life for herself. During the time that she was living there, Hong Kong was a temporary colony of the British Empire. In 1997, it would be back under the control of China. Fearing that she would once again be living under the same limitations as those present in her hometown, Katherine considered moving to the United States.

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Yanes, Guillermo : Finding a Home by Hayden Stern
Year of Arrival 1994

Guillermo Yanes was born in El Salvador to poor, peasant parents in the rural countryside. His family worked the land, deeply connected to the soil and plant life of their country. They had clear values and a strong work ethic. Guillermo grew up as someone who worked hard and had distinct morals. His family made sure of this.

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Pernik, Zhanna : Zhanna’s Ultimate Destination by Kriti Khari
Year of Arrival 1996

The exodus of Russians to the United States started in the 1880’s. During this exodus the majority of the people who moved to the United States were mostly Jewish. Those Jews who lived in Germany and Russia were degraded in status. In Russia, they were treated as the “other” and were in many cases stripped of their basic rights. They left Russia as settlers and not as sojourners. Settlers are those who cannot return to their home country again or do not wish to return and sojourners are those who leave their countries with an intention to return home. Zhanna Pernik was born on September 15, 1958 in Ukraine, Soviet Union. Zhanna is a Jewish settler who moved to the United States because of the humiliation she faced in Ukraine ever since she was a child. Even though Zhanna was not a part of the Russian migration in the 1880’s, she did have family that moved to the United States before her in the early 1990’s. While she was in Ukraine she lost her brother so her widowed sister-in-law moved to the U.S. with her kids.  Her sister-in-law had to go through a lot of difficulties, especially because she was a widow staying in a European country. She had to go through Austria and Italy before she was allowed to enter the United States. Zhanna believes that her sister-in law’s immigration was very painful compared to hers since she at least had her family that backed her up throughout the process of immigration. Had it not been for them she would also have had difficulty.

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Emayan, Kumar : Escape Through Education by Meagan Travlos
Year of Arrival 1997

Kumar Emayan was born in Point Pedro, Sri Lanka on September 1, 1961.  Born to educators, a principal for a mother and chemistry professor for a father, the importance of education to a successful life was forefront growing up.  He attended the local schools through high school and because of his affluent parents, was able to leave Sri Lanka to attend the University of London in England, leaving behind his younger siblings and parents.  He now lives in Berkeley, California in the United States.  Mr. Emayan received his Ph.D. from the Imperial College at the University of London and is a research scientist at a pharmaceutical company that makes drugs to combat pulmonary fibrosis.

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