Dalip Singh arrived in 1910 and built a farming business in the Sacramento Valley. He was unable to bring his wife over for 15 years after they were married.
From 1910 to 1940, an estimated 8,000 immigrants from the Indian subcontinent passed through the U.S. Immigration Station at Angel Island. South Asians had been in North America since the turn of the century, but an increase in their immigration to the U.S. coincided with the opening of the opening of the immigration station. They landed in a city that was embroiled in debate over Chinese, Japanese and Korean immigration, already restricted by law, but there was no law yet that excluded South Asian. They became the next target of anti-Asian activists.
Many early immigrants from India came from the Punjab province of present-day India and Pakistan. Overall, they were a diverse group of Sikh, Muslim and Hindu farmers, students, and former colonial soldiers from British India. They found jobs in the lumber mills, rope factories, and railroad camps in California and the Pacific Northwest and most settled in the Sacramento, Imperial and San Joaquin valleys where they worked on farms.
South Asians had the highest rejection rate of all immigrants passing through the immigration station during its thirty-year history. From 1911 to 1915, over half of South Asian immigrants were rejected from admission and returned to their homes. South Asians were barred from immigrating to the U.S. by the Immigration Act of 1917.
Researchers will be able to find close to 300 case files of South Asian immigrants at the San Bruno office of the National Archives and Records Administration, a small percentage of the 8,000 immigrants who arrived in the U.S.
AIISF commissioned a video to tell the story of Dalip Singh Samra, who first arrived in the U.S. in 1910 and built a farming business in the Sacramento Valley. Due to immigration laws, he was unable to bring his wife over for fifteen years after they were married; they were eventually able to raise four children.
http://aiisf.org/stories-by-author/933-from-punjab-india-to-angel-island . He is one of several South Asian immigrants profiled on AIISF’s Immigrant Voices website, and we invite you to add your story as well.
Information provided by Erika Lee and Judy Yung in Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America, published 2010 by the Oxford University Press, and from the Samra family.