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Singapore

“Immigrants from Singapore birthplaces.. had to conform to the Chinese Exclusion Act… repealed in 1943.”

In the files of the National Archives in San Bruno, there are 25 case files of immigrants with birthplaces listed as Singapore who traveled through Angel Island between 1910 and 1940. Most of them have Chinese surnames – Chan, Lee, Ong, Wong, etc., and even though they were residents of a British Crown Colony, most likely would have to conform to the 1882 Chinese Exclusion restrictions to entry into the United States Act (the Act was not repealed until 1943). An amendment to the act in 1884 clarified that it restricted people based on ethnicity, regardless of country of origin, so even Chinese who were British subjects were subject to the law. There were a few immigrants with non-Chinese names from Singapore who are listed – DeSouza, Earl, Jones, Mohamed – who most certainly had a different experience than the Chinese.

“Immigrants from Singapore birth places had to conform to the Chinese Exclusion Act.”

Despite these restrictions, the Singapore Chinese still managed to make it to Angel Island and many were probably admitted into the country. We will need to conduct additional research to learn more about all of these immigrants from Singapore. Were they related to those who had already immigrated? Did they travel as merchants, scholars, or diplomats, who were exempted from the Exclusion Act? We will seek to find out answers to these questions.

Between 1910 and 1940, a million people were processed by the U.S. Immigration Station at Angel Island. About half of them were coming to live in America; about half were returning to their home countries, mostly across the Pacific.

These people came from 80 countries including China, Japan, Korea, Russia, Mexico, Germany, the Philippines, and many others.

To read some of the 160 Immigrant Voices stories (a number growing all the time), visit our website at www.aiisf.org/immigrant-voices.

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