Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation

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Tom, William : From a young boy from Hoi Ping, Guangdong, China to a successful optometrist in Los Angeles, CA by Steve Kwok
Year of Arrival 1937

The following was written by Steve Kwok based on an interview by Roy Chan with William Tom in Monterey Park California on March 15, 2012.

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Yee, Tet Ming : Activist, Entrepreneur by Lia Dun
Year of Arrival 1932

After arriving at Angel Island on September 6, 1932, Yee Tet Ming (the true son of a Chinese merchant) was almost deported back to China for fraudulent entry when certain answers that he gave during the immigration interrogation did not match those of his father and brother.  As a result, he had to spend six months locked up on Angel Island while his attorney appealed his case to the higher authorities.  The experience would mark him forever.  After he was admitted into the country, he devoted much of his life to fighting racial discrimination, labor organizing, and helping to build a stronger China.  His work served to better the lives of Chinese Americans both during his time and for future generations.

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Rubin, Jakob and Ernestine : Riding the Trans Siberian Railroad to Angel Island by Lia Dun
Year of Arrival 1940

Jakob Rubin and his wife Ernestine arrived at Angel Island from Vienna, Germany on August 28, 1940.  Jakob and Ernestine were both Jewish, and although neither directly stated their reason for leaving Germany, it can be assumed they were trying to escape the mounting persecution against Jewish people in the years directly preceding World War II.  In Vienna, Jakob worked as an office clerk buying and selling men’s clothes in a department store; however, according to his interrogation records, he “was forced to leave that business.”  His response hints at actions of Hitler’s early regime that forced Germany’s Jewish population out of employment (Krystallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, in which over 7,000 Jewish businesses were destroyed in Germany and parts of Austria, had occurred just two years prior).  Jakob also mentioned not being able to contact his brother in France for five months “Because it was impossible to get anything” and that his other brother in Vienna was no longer operating his business for similar reasons—“because it is impossible”—again suggesting the presence of the Nazi regime.  According to an account by Jakob’s brother-in-law Alfred Marill, at the time Marill Rubin left the country (Jakob mentioned in this interrogation report that his sister Klara and her husband Alfred came to the US with him and Ernestine on the same ship), 25,000 out of Vienna’s 30,000 Jewish residents were “fed by the community.”

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Pera, Philipos : Locked Out by the Quota Law: The Case of Philipos Pera, Assyrian Refugee by Judy Yung
Year of Arrival 1922

World War I and religious persecution wrecked havoc in the pastoral life of Christian Assyrians in Persia and the Ottoman Empire.  Their participation in the war, fighting on the Allied side with the Russians and the British, left them vulnerable to massacres by Turks, Kurds, and Persians of the Moslem faith.  By the end of the war, nearly 100,000 Assyrians, along with tens of thousands of Armenians, had been slaughtered, their homes looted, their lands destroyed, and their women carried away.  Approximately 10,000 Assyrians found shelter in Russian Transcaucasia while many others escaped to Europe, Australia, and the Americas.  Over 600 men, women, and children sought refuge in the United States, 200 arriving in San Francisco on Japanese ships from Yokohama between 1918 and 1922. Among them was 16-year-old Philipos Pera.

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Hernandez de Policarpo, Reyna : A Journey to Los Angeles for a Better Future by Victoria Gurrola
Year of Arrival 1989

The United States has served as a beacon of hope for immigrants for centuries.  Immigrant populations vary by state and city location. Current political debate has brought attention to high immigration rates to the United States from Mexico, backed by Conservative attacks on illegal immigration specifically.  Like many immigrants to America, Mexican immigrant hopefuls saw, and still see, America as a land of opportunity.

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Frank, Lotte Loebl : From Vienna to Angel Island by Reese Erlich
Year of Arrival 1940

For many years Lotte Loebl Frank didn’t want to talk about her ordeal. The memories were too painful. She and her family had escaped occupied Europe in 1940 along with a few hundred other Jews who crossed the USSR, China and Japan - ultimately arriving at Angel Island.

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Fong, Jimmy Mee Ning : Angel Island Story by Madeleine Fong
Year of Arrival 1936

Jimmy Ning Fong (aka Fong Mee Ning) of Sacramento, California thinks his Angel Island experience did not have much of an effect on him.  He can recall it well and likes to start with the day he first left his home in China. 

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Lee, Charlie : A Family Profile of the Charlie Lee and Mary Sullivan Family by Marilyn Lee McConnell
Year of Arrival 1911

My name is Marilyn Lee McConnell, and I am a member of the Ng family.  I grew up in Oakland, California, not knowing that I belonged to the Ng/Eng family. Why was that?

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Scheuer, Erna and Julius : Jewish refugees from Germany by Judy Kawamoto
Year of Arrival 1940

Erna and Julius Scheuer, a married couple, arrived at Angel Island Immigration Station on August 28, 1940. They had been passengers on the ship the Rakuyo Maru leaving from Yokohama, Japan. They were interviewed by the Immigration Board on September 3, 1940. The interview was conducted through a German interpreter.

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Berek, Eva Schott : Incredible Journey by Reese Erlich
Year of Arrival 1940

The yellowing old photos show a sprightly young woman of 18 taking a sea voyage to San Francisco. It could be any vacation photo from 1940. But the smiling face and sea breezes belie the harrowing journey taken by Jewish refugee Eva Schott.

She and her family fled Berlin in 1940, among the last Jews able to leave Nazi Germany. They took a train through the USSR and China, and then sailed on an ocean liner from Yokohama to the U.S. immigration station on Angel Island.

While historians have explored the long and often unjust treatment of Japanese and Chinese on Angel Island, much less is known about the thousands of Russians, Eastern Europeans and Jews who came to the U.S. via Asia. Angel Island immigration records show some 500 Jews arrived on ships from Japan and China from 1939-40.

 

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Young, Wing : Video Interview with Wing Young by AIISF
Year of Arrival 1928

In the summer of 1997 and 1998, several former detainees returned to Angel Island where they were interviewed in the detention barracks.  Here's an interview with Wing Young.

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Prokofiev, Sergei : Passage through Angel Island by Jordan Yee
Year of Arrival 1918

Prokofiev was an established pianist and composer in Russia when he journeyed to the United States in 1918 for series of performances.  The following essay by Jordan Yee, an AIISF volunteer and ranger at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, brings to life Prokofiev’s intense four-day detention at the Angel Island Hospital.  Prokofiev was a prolific diarist who kept a detailed and contemplative record of his thoughts and feelings.  Yee’s masterful blending of Prokofiev’s journal entries and citations from Prokofiev’s immigration files provide a fascinating glimpse of one person’s experience at the Immigration Station.

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Yee, Robertson Fon : Video Interview with Robertson Fon Yee by AIISF
Year of Arrival 1921

In the summer of 1997 and 1998, several former detainees returned to Angel Island where they were interviewed in the detention barracks.  Here's an interview with Robertson Fon Yee.

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