Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation

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IMMIGRANT VOICES

 

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Leong, C. Tony and May : The Journeys of C. Tony Leong and May Chung Leong to America via Angel Island  by Tony C. Leong, Jr., Ph.D.
Year of Arrival 1914

Tony C. Leong, Jr. contributes a fascinating and detailed account of secrets uncovered in the tangled tale of paper sons so common among Chinese Americans.

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Leong, Quong : From Immigrant to Flower Grower by Helen Leong
Year of Arrival 1915

A life of hard work as a gardener in San Francisco leads Leong Quong to become a prize-winning flower grower in Milpitas, California.

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Lew, Wing Din : We are proud of him by Robert Lew
Year of Arrival 1930

Wing Din Lew was nine years old when he left his mother in China to travel to America to live with a person he had never met, his father.  Three years later, in 1933, Wing’s father died of cancer.  Wing survived the Great Depression as an orphan and ultimately built a thriving family.

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Li, Beleza : On the meaning of being Chinese by Daughter of Beleza
Year of Arrival 1950

Beleza was born and raised in Brazil, and has been living in the Bay Area for over seven years. As the daughter of Chinese immigrants in Brazil and an immigrant herself in the United States, she has witnessed the struggles and difficulties of newcomers. She has seen how cultural and language barriers prevent even the most hardworking from successfully adapting, and how broken immigration laws also prevent high-achieving students from becoming active members in society. Beleza's work towards social justice include teaching  at-risk youth, writing for ethnic media, and mentoring immigrant students.

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Lim, Fook Keung : Biography (January 3, 1909 – February 20, 1986) by Hazel Lim Hoshiko
Year of Arrival 1923

Daughter Hazel Lim shares the wide arc of her father’s life, who was detained on Angel Island at age 15, worked in San Francisco Chinatown restaurants in his youth, served in the Army-Air Force in World War II, and retired in San Gabriel as a grocery store owner.

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Louie, Stephen : Chinese Interpreter by Jim Huen
Year of Arrival Born in U.S.

Interview of Stephen Louie
Chinese Interpreter, 1949 to 1954, US Immigration Office, San Francisco

Angel Island Immigration Station operated from 1910 to late 1940 when a fire closed the Station.  The U.S. Immigration office then moved to a temporary location in San Francisco at 801 Silver Avenue and operated there until 1944 when a new permanent immigration facility was built and opened at 630 Sansome Street.  It was also known as the U.S. Appraisers Building, housing other federal agencies.  This facility is still an active immigration office under its current name United States Citizenship and Immigration Services under the Department of Homeland Security.  Little has been written about these two San Francisco immigration facilities.

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Low, Raymond : A Remembrance of Raymond Low by Arthur Low
Year of Arrival 1938

Arthur Low traces the life of his father from humble beginnings in Toisan. China to life in Sacramento, CA.  Despite difficult times, Raymond Low worked hard at two jobs, bought a house and raised four children with his wife Yvonne.  Today, his grandson, Evan Low is the Mayor of Campbell,CA.

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Low, Dick (Ko Shew) : A Tribute to My Father, Dick Low, on his 90th birthday, 1995 by Kenneth Ko Low
Year of Arrival 1921

Ko Shew immigrated to the U.S. in 1921 under the name Dick Low.  He worked hard throughout his life, starting out as a farm laborer and eventually becoming a department store manager.  Kenneth Ko Low reflects upon the many gifts and life lessons his father bestowed upon him.

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Lum, Fong Shee : Sowing Strength in a Strange Land: The Life of Lum Fong Shee by Carla Koop
Year of Arrival 1912

The following is a biography of my grandmother, Lum Fong Shee, who travelled from a village in southern China to the United States as a new bride in an arranged marriage. She was 21 years of age when she left, and spent the remainder of her 78 years in California. I call my grandmother’s story “Sowing Strength in a Strange Land” because of the personal strength she drew upon, living as an illiterate, non-English speaking woman in a foreign culture and land. Despite her challenges, she raised a large family and achieved business success.

This narrative is based on a series of interviews I conducted with my grandmother between 1990 and 1996. Because my grandmother spoke only Chinese and I speak none, my mother, Frances Koop, acted as translator and full participant in the interviews. Eventually I was able to complete a written oral history that gave my grandmother's experience a more permanent voice. I am grateful to have this opportunity to share her experience as part of the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation's “Immigrant Voices” project.

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Ly, Andrew : Andrew Ly: From Refugee to CEO and winner of the Immigrant Heritage Award 2011 by Linda Lau
Year of Arrival 1979

We are proud to share the story of Andrew Ly, who fled Vietnam in the aftermath of the U.S.-Vietnam War, and settled in San Francisco. Through hard work and diligent studies and the support of his entire  family, the Ly family enjoys tremendous success in business with the nationally-recognized Sugarbowl Bakery brand.  Mr. Andrew was the recipient of AIISF’s Immigrant Heritage Award on October 1, 2011.

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Ma, Katherine : Portrait of a Female Chinese Immigrant by Janice H. Ma
Year of Arrival 1985

 

Katherine Kaitak Ma immigrated to the United States in 1985. Growing up in Guangzhou, Katherine and her family worked hard but always felt like there were more opportunities for them elsewhere. “I wanted to do more and live better.” said Katherine. Katherine felt limited under the strict regulation of the communist government and decided to move to Hong Kong as a teen. Leaving her family behind, she immigrated to Hong Kong and started a new life for herself. During the time that she was living there, Hong Kong was a temporary colony of the British Empire. In 1997, it would be back under the control of China. Fearing that she would once again be living under the same limitations as those present in her hometown, Katherine considered moving to the United States.

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Mah, Yel Sen : Pioneer from Cheng Gong by Linda Wing
Year of Arrival 1922

In 1922, Wong Gin Wing brought his wife Mah Yel Sen from China to the United States. They docked at Angel Island after a 30-day trip from Canton with stopovers in Shanghai, Yokohama, and Honolulu. Entering the United States for the third time with a merchant's passport, Wong Gin Wing was immediately released from Angel Island while Mah Yel Sen was detained. He returned the following day and saw many women crowd the second floor windows of the immigration station, eagerly looking for their arriving mates. Wong Gin Wing and the other husbands, previously freed from the detention center returned, bearing dim sum packages for their still detained spouses on "visiting day."

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Makishima, George Akira : George Akira Makishima story by Eva Martinez
Year of Arrival 1940

On May 8, 1940, 19-year-old U.S. citizen George Akira Makishima arrived at the Port of San Francisco on the SS Tatuta Maru. He was returning from Japan where he had lived with his paternal grandparents for nearly a decade.

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