The Hope And Heartbreak Of Angel Island Immigration Station
The story of the hope and heartbreak of Angel Island Immigration Station is artfully and solemnly told by the Angel Island Immigration Foundation (AIISF). The Foundation raises awareness of the experience of Immigration into America through the Pacific. AIISF collects and preserves the rich stories and personal journeys of thousands of immigrants. It shares them with visitors and everyone living in America through education initiatives and public programs. The Angel Island Immigration Station reminds us of the complicated history of immigration in America. It serves as a symbol of our willingness to learn from our past. This ensures that our nation keeps its promise of liberty and freedom.
From 1910 to 1940, Angel Island was the site of an U.S. Immigration Station that functioned as the West Coast equivalent of Ellis Island. However, Angel Island facility also enforced policies designed to exclude many Pacific Coast immigrants coming from eighty countries.
In 1970, the site was slated for demolition because of its deteriorated condition. The later discovery of Chinese poetry that had been carved into the walls of the detention barracks saved it from destruction. That led to renewed interest in the Angel Island Immigration Station. Most importantly, the discovery of poetry increased awareness of the need to access the vivid lessons of sacrifice and triumph in the history of immigration.
Sparked by the discovery, Bay Area Asian Americans, spearheaded by Chris Chow, formed the Angel Island Immigration Station Historical Advisory Committee (AIISHAC). This organization studied how best to preserve the station for historical interpretation. In July 1976, their hard work came to fruition. The state legislature appropriated $250,000 to restore and preserve the Immigration Station as a state monument.
The barracks opened to the public in 1983. The members of AIISHAC created the Immigration Station Foundation to continue preservation and educational efforts. They also increased awareness of the contributions Pacific Coast immigrants make.
Foundation members preserved the poems on the barracks walls and created a collection of oral histories from those who had come through the Station and their descendants. This poignantly reminds us of the hope and the heartbreak of Angel Island Immigration station.