Chinese immigrants who arrived at San Francisco's Angel Island were regarded as criminals, unlike Europeans who docked at Ellis Island on the opposite coast. Erika Lee talked to Think host Krys Boyd about how the first immigration laws in the U.S. targeted the Chinese -- especially laborers -- and The Making of Asian America.
The Chinese were "America’s first undocumented immigrants," says Lee, who describes how the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 became the first law restricting immigration in the U.S., well before Angel Island opened in 1910.
Lee consulted oral histories of families torn apart at the West Coast entry point for her book. San Francisco's KQED produced a short documentary on the Immigration Station at Angel Island and poems found on the walls in Chinese that testify to injustice; it's an essential introduction to a lesser-known side of American history.
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