Amnesty—Past and Present
By Bill Ong Hing, Professor of Law, University of San Francisco.
The story of undocumented immigration in the Chinese American community is well known. Because of the exclusion laws, many Chinese entered the United States under false citizenship claims. A Chinese laborer might assert, for example, that he was born in San Francisco and that his birth certificate was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. Then he would claim, after various trips to China, that his wife there had given birth to children (usually sons) who automatically derived U.S. citizenship. In fact, the children were often fictitious, and the few immigration slots were given or sold to others in China. They came to be known as “paper sons.” Thousands of others, including wives, sneaked across the Canadian or Mexican border.