“Most came through Angel Island during the peak years of the Mexican Revolution.”
A small number of Mexican immigrants’ journeys reached the United States at the Port of San Francisco. At least 400 arrived by sea, at Angel Island, instead of at border crossings in California, Arizona, or Texas. Most of these came during the peak years of the Mexican Revolution, from 1913-1920, because the ocean passage was a safer route than entry across the land border.
The Mexicans who came through Angel Island were a demographically and occupationally diverse group that included men, women, children, merchants, skilled and unskilled laborers, and domestic servants. While many came for work, others came as refugees fleeing the chaos, persecution, and economic instability of the Mexican revolution.
Most Mexicans who applied for admission through San Francisco were born in the coastal states of Jalisco and Sinaloa and traveled from West Coast ports, such as Mazatlán, Manzanillo, Salina Cruz, and Acapulco. Steamship lines, like the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, made regular stops at these ports as they traveled between Central America and North America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Other Mexicans traveled on freight steamers or worked on ships.
Researchers will be interested to know that there are 207 case files of immigrants who came from Mexico stored at the National Archives and Records Administration office in San Bruno. Erika Lee and Judy Yung’s Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America has a chapter on Mexican immigration to Angel Island and soon there will be a profile of Maria Lopez, who came through Angel Island in 1919 on our Immigrant Voices website. We encourage you to submit your own story there as well.
Information provided by Erika Lee and Judy Yung in Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America, published 2010 by the Oxford University Press.