Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation

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AIISF Celebrates 100th anniversary of Immigration Station

The Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation (AIISF) marked the 100th anniversary of the opening of U.S. Immigration Station at Angel Island with a moving ceremony on January 21, 2010 that was highlighted by the naturalization of 100 new U.S. citizens from 44 countries.

President Barack Obama issued a proclamation declaring January 21, 2010 National Angel Island Day.  An excerpt from the proclamation, the first for any Asian American historical site, reads as follows: "One hundred years ago, the Angel Island Immigration Station in San Francisco Bay opened for the first time, and an important chapter of the American narrative began. It would be written by those who walked through the station's doors over the next three decades. From the cities, villages, and farms of their birth, they journeyed across the Pacific, seeking better lives for themselves and their children. Many arrived at Angel Island, weary but hopeful, only to be unjustly confined for months or, in some cases, years. As we remember their struggle, we honor all who have been drawn to America by dreams of limitless opportunity."

Between 1910 and 1940, over one million immigrants were processed by Angel Island inspectors, and an estimated 500,000 of them came to the immigration station. Among those immigrants was the Richard Mar, the father of Supervisor Eric Mar, one of three Chinese American elected to San Francisco’s governing body.  Supervisor Mar told of his father’s passage to America and to his service in the armed forces in World War II.  Poets Nellie Wong and Janice Mirikitani read poems written by Chinese and Japanese immigrants at Angel Island. California State Parks Interpreter Casey Lee read passages written by Russian students stranded at the Immigration Station in 1923.

Capping off the celebration was the naturalization of 100 new U.S. citizens, who were welcomed as full participants in our democracy by U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel, who is the granddaughter of immigrants.

Video clips from the commemoration are available at www.aiisf.org/media.

The commemoration kicked off a series of centennial activities including a poetry reading at the Immigration station on May 8. AIISF and the Angel Island State Park will hold a community celebration on July 31 when new exhibits at immigration such as the large, granite interrogation table and audio kiosks with English and Cantonese versions of the Angel Island poems will be unveiled.  Finally, a national book tour will be conducted in August and September for the new book, Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America by Erika Lee and Judy Yung.
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