The Chinese Exclusion Act


Why were the Chinese coming to America?


Starting in the 1850s, many Chinese immigrants moved to America because of the abundance of gold and jobs. In China, the economic system was failing and it was a struggle for most to support and raise a family. As a result, many came to America in search of a better life, though it was not easy to find. Before the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed, many occupations were available, including factory positions and railroad workers. In addition, in the western region of the country, the Gold Rush was taking place, bringing in a large number of immigrants in search of wealth. However, this soon all changed for the Chinese as most could no longer even enter the country.

What happened prior to the Chinese Exclusion Act?


external image The_only_one_barred_out_cph.3b48680.jpgBefore the Chinese Exclusion Act was put into effect, much violence started to occur throughout the United States. One of the more famous controversies is the Rock Springs Massacre, which took place on September 2, 1885. This event caused the death of about 28 people and 15 were injured. In addition, people all over the country started to become with the Chinese because they were taking jobs that "were meant for Americans" and did not belong in the United States.




What was the Chinese Exclusion Act?


In 1882, Present Chester Arthur signed the Chinese Exclusion Act into effect, the first law to ever
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restrict one ethnicity from entering the country. It stated that there would be a ban on Chinese immigrants looking for work for 10 years, and those already living in America could not become citizens. However, non-working immigrants were allowed to enter with explicit proof that they had other purposes for living there besides labor. As one can guess, this was nearly impossible and most did not bother to attempt to obtain this. In addition, if a person was found guilty of illegally bringing a Chinese immigrant into the United States, he or she would be required to pay a large fine.





What happened because of the Chinese Exclusion Act?

external image d7348b276f38bc340409f1705c35c412_1M.pngAfter the Chinese Exclusion Act was put into place, life became very difficult for those of this nationality. They were unable to obtain citizenship and nearly all immigrants were now denied entrance into the country. Ten years later, the Act was renewed for another ten years, and in 1902, the end date became indefinite. However, in 1943, it was repealed because the United States needed China as an ally. Chinese immigrants now had the same rights as everyone else, although there was still a great amount of racism towards them.




What impact does the Chinese Exclusion Act have later on?

The Angel Island immigration center was set up in San Francisco around 1905 in order to allow for more immigrants to enter the country. However, it was set up as a detention center and once again, it was difficult for many people, especially the Chinese. Officials did all they could to prevent these immigrants from entering by asking difficult questions, even requiring them to prove that an immediate family member was a citizen. People were often detained at the facility for months, while at Ellis Island, it would only take one day. By law, the United States was allowing the Chinese to immigrate, but they could try to restrict the amount of people coming in.Also, this would not be the only time that a race was discriminated against. For example, there was an extreme amount of racism towards African-Americans during the late 1800s and early 1900s, such as segregation and the Jim Crow laws. Although there have been numerous policies put into place against this, it is evident that discrimination still occurs between various races in the United States today.