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Chinese Exclusion, the First Bureau of Immigration, and the 1905 Special Chinese Census: Registered, Counted, Arrested, Deported--1892-1906.

The first Bureau of Immigration (Bl) under the leadership of Terence V. Powderly and Frank P. Sargent successfully expanded its control over America's immigrants by utilizing the anti-Chinese sentiment present at the time. One of the cornerstones of the BI's actions was the 1905 Special Chinese Census, which sought to register and count the Chinese present in the United States between the 1892 Geary Act (the ten-year extension of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, 29 Stat. 214, with the added condition of registration and deportation rationale (1)) and the final tally of the 1905 Census reported to Congress in 1906. Throughout the process BI officials arrested and deported those without proper documentation (either Certificates of Residence or Certificates of Identity). (2) BI records provided insight into their actions. (3) The results of the programs, especially its judicial powers and deportation arrests, had far-reaching consequences for the Chinese in the United States as fear of American government officials increased. This did not go unnoticed in China, where talk of a boycott of American goods had begun as early as the passage of federal exclusionary laws and reached its height in 1905 as U.S.-China trade relations deteriorated to the point where Chinese merchants in the port cities launched the anti-American boycott.


In the late nineteenth century, negative stereotypes of the Chinese were based on European pseudoscientific theories supporting the racial superiority of Anglo-Saxons and the inferiority of the Chinese. The strange dress, customs, non-Christian beliefs, and activities of the Chinese spurred the anti-Chinese movements, which were often violent. The growth of the popular media and the aspirations of politicians who could unify diverse groups against the Chinese led to the popular clamor to take legislative action. (4) In a series of court decisions that influenced popular opinion and the media dating from 1878 onward and that coincided with the rise of labor unions that called for the end of "cheap coolie labor," many Americans believed that the Chinese were unsuited for American citizenship and participation in the American way of life. Chinese women were targeted because they would have numerous children and contribute to the growth of the culturally "alien and unassimilable" population in America; so the 1875 Page Law essentially prevented the immigration of Chinese women and created a "bachelor-like Chinese society" despite the fact that one-third to one-fourth of the men were married but living separately from their wives, who were in China. (5) The 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act and its extensions were attempts to solve the problem of stemming the tide of Chinese immigration on several fronts: ending the immigration of laborers, severely restricting who could enter, deporting Chinese who had not legally entered the country, and preventing women from entering in order to stop the formation of families and thus limit the number of American-born children.

At first Congress put the control of immigration under the Department of the Treasury's Bureau of Customs to implement and enforce the 1882 law, but widespread public dissatisfaction quickly grew because of loopholes in the enforcement of the law, the absence of nationwide regulatory policies, and inadequate funding and personnel. Customs officials resorted to appealing to patriotic Americans to help them enforce the discriminatory legislation. After the 1882 act, the Chinese population surged. According to ship manifests, fifty thousand Chinese entered the country before 1892, and the fear of Asian domination added to the justification for the first racially biased federal exclusion of immigrants and its extensions. (6)

New legislation attempted to correct these problems. In 1884 amendments (23 Stat. 115) were added to close loopholes in the 1882 act--requiring identification information and reentry certificates (often with photographs) for Chinese leaving the United States. However, the number of Chinese arrivals still increased. At the Port of San Francisco alone, 7,744 Chinese entered in 1886; 11,172 in 1887; and 12,842 in 1888. (7) The Scott Act of 1888 (25 Stat. 476), as it was popularly known, added the requirement of a government-issued certificate of identification and prohibited reentry unless an individual possessed this document or had family members or had debts amounting to S 1,000 or more in the United States. The Scott Act also redefined who constituted the exempt class of merchants, students, teachers, and visitors while making all other Chinese classified as laborers ineligible for admission. (8) For a brief period these exclusion laws were effective, but the number of Chinese immigrants began to rise again in 1891 partially through false papers, smuggling, and other evasive methods. (9) The government realized harsher laws and stricter enforcement were needed. Those who were not legally in the United States had to be deported.

The Geary Act of 1892 and its amendments were the answer to the Chinese problem because the new law required that certificates of residence or identity, regardless of place of birth, be carried by laborers and others at all times. Failure to do so was punishable by deportation or a year of hard labor. At first the application required the support of at least two Euro-American witnesses. The act also permitted arrests without warrants and court proceedings; expanded the definition of "laborers" to include a wide variety of occupations; limited the definition of the exempt classes, especially "merchants"; denied bail and habeas corpus proceedings for Chinese who were not allowed to land; denied Chinese the ability to testify in court; and placed the burden of proof on Chinese applicants. Prior to this time, only criminals were photographed, and the inescapable popular implication was that the Chinese were engaged in criminal activities, especially illegal entries using fake documents, gambling, and prostitution, and should be treated like criminals. Senator William M. Stewart of Nevada, in an 1892 statement to Congress, justified the action, reflecting the general American attitude that dated back to the 1870s: "The American people are now convinced that the Chinese cannot be incorporated among our citizens, cannot be amalgamated, cannot be absorbed, but that they will remain a distinct element." (10)

The Chinese were quick to respond to the Geary Act. In 1892 two influential community organizations directed their members differently regarding compliance with requirements of the Geary Act. The Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA, or Chinese Six Companies), with its headquarters in San Francisco, ordered their ninety thousand or so members not to comply, while the Zhigongtang (ZGT or Chee Kong Tong in Cantonese, aka Chinese Freemasons), the other major but smaller Chinese community organization that was more prominent in rural towns, urged their members to register. (11) Eventually the CCBA, which raised money among its membership and in the community in general, lost their legal challenge to portions of the Geary Act. The 1893 McCreary Amendment extended the registration date, allowing CCBA members to apply for the certificates of residence in 1894-1895. (12) As a result of the CCBA position to oppose the law, the ZGT briefly gained greater community prestige and power because of their compliance.

By 1894 the Chinese, both foreign-born and American-born, realized that they had to obtain the certificates of residence or certificates of identity, complete with a photograph, written physical description (height, weight, special physical features), address, and occupation (fig. 1). The government considered the certificates the most reliable means of identification. (13) For the average worker, the expense was considerable. The certificate was $1.00 and the four photographs alone (later three) cost $0.45 each. (14) Since the average Chinese salary was $1.00 per day, this was a significant expense. If the certificate was lost or accidentally destroyed, which was not uncommon, then a duplicate certificate had to be obtained that involved an attorney, more photographs, depositions by acquaintances (especially Euro-American policemen, postal officials, or prominent businessmen, whom the BI regarded as trustworthy), and documents such as birth certificates, bank statements, and passports. (15) Consequently Chinese community leaders and others made special efforts to meet and get to know important Euro-American community leaders in order to assist their countrymen in the identification procedure.

Tightening the definitions of eligible classifications for admission led to further reduction in admissions. Between 1898 and 1899 the definition of which classes were not exempt included salesmen, clerks, buyers, bookkeepers, accountants, managers, storekeepers, apprentices, agents, cashiers, physicians, proprietors of restaurants, missionaries, preachers, ministers, and others, so the only "guaranteed" exempt categories were merchants, diplomats, students, and visitors. (16) At the same time the U.S. government made it more difficult for Chinese merchants and their families (exempt from exclusion) to gain admission, in 1898 Attorney General John W. Griggs of New Jersey distinguished "trader" from "merchant," and this allowed the BI to reduce the number of Chinese trader-merchants admitted. (17) By targeting the business community, the BI offended the educated community leaders with ties to other merchants in port cities in China who were connected to the rapidly growing transpacific trade network. Those involved in transpacific trade were eventually hurt by the lack of competent support staff in business enterprises in the United States and the inability to expand into the American West merchandising market.

Meanwhile the challenges to the Geary Act reached diplomatic levels. The Chinese minister in Washington, D.C., Wu Tingfang, denounced the Geary Act in March 1893, but he was eventually rotated out of that post and replaced by Yang Yu, who vociferously criticized the registration process and corrupt U.S. government officials. (18) The immigration issue was put in the hands of the secretary of state, Walter Q. Gresham, who legitimized the exclusion and registration in the Gresham-Yang Treaty of 1894. (19) The treaty was abrogated in 1904 when the United States adopted permanent Chinese exclusion, the first U.S. law to permanently ban an immigrant group based on race. Chinese ministers continued to object to the treatment of the Chinese in the United States without much success. (20)

Opposition continued. In 1901 the Chinese organizations fought to repeal the Geary Act, and in New York fifteen thousand Chinese signed a petition to the U.S. government and publicized their plight in Chinese American and Chinese newspapers. Merchants, students, teachers, workers, and clansmen in eastern China, especially in the province of Guangdong (home of many Chinese immigrants), joined in protest against the United States and its policies toward the Chinese and called for a boycott of American goods as a possible way to force the American government to reconsider the Geary Act.

Another BI target was the admission of Chinese women. The reclassification of wives of laborers as laborers, and therefore as ineligible for admission, was an outgrowth of the view of Chinese women as prostitutes. The 1875 Page Law required women to prove that they were not prostitutes. (21) In 1899 the BI estimated that there were seven hundred respectable Chinese women, eight hundred prostitutes, and five hundred "doubtful women" in San Francisco despite the stiffer regulations. The establishment of the highly valued Chinese family unit was a rarity in Western Chinatowns because of the absence of wives. By preventing women from immigrating, the assumption was that the Chinese population would decline. (22) Wives of merchants encountered difficulties even with documentation of lawful marriages, but by 1890 a district court case in Oregon affirmed the right of a Chinese merchant in the United States to have his wife and minor children join him. (23) In 1904 forty-seven Chinese women applied for admission as wives of merchants, and eleven were rejected because of suspected fraud. (24) Rejections of the applications for admission of women became more numerous. The absence of women contributed to the declining Chinese immigrant population.

Sometimes the BI officials were mistaken in their admission of Chinese women. At times the officials relied upon the testimony of "respectable church women." One example of this was in 1904 when Chin Hon, Ah Cum, and Ah Ying, applying as wives, were denied admission because of the testimonies of Carrie G. Davis of the Methodist Mission House in San Francisco, and her interpreter. Ah Liu Kum. These "church women" both stated that one of their "rescued" girls had identified the three women as prostitutes known to her in China and that the marriages were not genuine. (25) Chin Hon appealed the decision. In 1905 the BI decided that there was insufficient evidence to deny admission, so the three women were allowed to settle in San Francisco. However, a year later the three women were discovered in prostitution houses and ordered to be deported while their alleged "merchant" husbands were ordered to be arrested. During exclusion, this probably was not uncommon at ports of entry but demonstrates that the officials could not distinguish a prostitute from a proper married lady. Government action was effective as Chinatowns were filled with aging single males by the early twentieth century.


During the period 1894-1895 Congress established the independent BI in an effort to control immigration, especially Chinese immigration. (26) Congress granted the BI broad judicial and enforcement powers that were clarified and expanded. (27) The actions of BI leaders and their policies against the Chinese were very effective.

The new BI leaders, who were presidential political appointees, were former labor union leaders and anti-Chinese advocates. In 1897 President William McKinley appointed Terence V Powderly, an Irish Catholic lawyer and former head of the Knights of Labor (from 1879 to 1893), as commissioner general of immigration. Denis Kearney popularized the Irish resentment against the Chinese as part of the effort to expand the labor unions. Powderly's autobiography reflected the racist position he had developed when he was in the union. (28) Powderly instituted the Bertillon system of identification (an anthropometric system of physical measurements of the body, especially the head and face, to produce a detailed description of an individual), thus requiring all arriving Chinese immigrants to undergo a thorough physical examination while completely naked. (29) This was culturally offensive to the Chinese. During his tenure (1897-1902) he exerted great influence on immigration policy, especially with regard to the Chinese. Beginning in 1901 he allowed greater independence for inspectors to make arrests. (30) With his legal training, Powderly quickly went to work to reinterpret laws and legal precedents and to institute new regulations and policies, including the redefinition and stricter interpretation of "merchants." All these efforts led to a decline of Chinese admissions and reentries. He supported the harsh and often illegal actions of subordinates like the inspector of the Chinese Bureau in San Francisco, James Dunn, who had a notorious and harsh anti-Chinese reputation. (31) From 1897 to 1900 the number of Chinese admissions decreased from 3,363 to 1,247. (32) Between 1897 and 1899 approximately one out of ten Chinese applying to enter the United States was rejected. Powderly reported the following arrivals and rejections at port cities: in 1899 there were 6,668 arrivals of which 14.2 percent (950) were rejected; in 1900, 6,589 of which 15.5 percent (1,065) were rejected; and in 1901, 4,982 of which 18.4 percent (918) were rejected. (33) When Hawai'i was annexed in 1898, the large Chinese population there was included in the exclusion laws. In 1902 Theodore Roosevelt removed Powderly from office but later, in 1907, appointed him chief of the newly created Immigration Services Division of Information so that he continued to influence immigration policy. Powderly wanted to stem the rising tide of other new immigrant groups as well. (34)

The BI adopted more stringent policies. Powderly's successor from May 1902 until his death in 1908 was labor leader Frank P Sargent, who had strong ties to Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor (at that time the most powerful labor union) and an ardent antiChinese advocate. (35) Sargent's anti-Chinese policies were even more extreme than Powderly's, and he strove to limit those entering the United States and to deport those who were here illegally. (36) Between 1903 and 1905 when the BI was under the jurisdiction of the newly established Department of Labor and Commerce and had greater autonomy, the rejection rate of Chinese immigrants was one in four because of the new stringent policies, whereas one in ten had been rejected in the late 1890s. (37) In his report to Congress in June 1904, Sargent stated that the BI had made "a marked advance" in the successful enforcement of Chinese exclusion. (38) Many Americans wanted fewer Chinese in their country and the BI was achieving that goal.

BI's powers expanded. In 1902 and 1904 the immigration acts (32 Stat. 176 and 33 Stat. 394, 428) extended the Chinese exclusion policy, making this the first national permanent exclusion of a specific race. (39) According to Sargent in 1904, the exclusion acts were enacted "in response to a purely local demand ... that the exclusion of Chinese labor was a necessity ... based upon considerations of self-preservation," but the regional problem had a national impact beyond the Chinese. (40) The BI's new authority included administering the exclusionary laws and general immigration as well as supervising all expenditures for the enforcement of the laws, investigating all alleged violations of the laws, including alien contract-labor laws (hence the need for undercover agents), and submitting evidence to the U.S. district attorney for the prosecution of violators. (41) Powderly and Sargent devised another tactic--counting the Chinese to determine the legality of their presence.


Sargent carried out Powderly's proposal to conduct a special Chinese census between late 1902 and 1905 during which time any Chinese found without the required government registration paper (certificate of identity or certificate of residence) would be arrested, imprisoned, and deported. (42) The Chinese census had no connection to the Bureau of the Census. The BI was only interested in counting Chinese citizens, laborers, merchants, wives and children of merchants, and other exempt classes to determine those who had the right to remain. The Chinese census was an important part of the efforts of BI leaders to systematize and regulate Chinese immigration, largely for political and economic reasons. The census created an atmosphere of fear and insecurity among Chinese Americans, most of whom viewed these procedures as racially motivated.

The counting involved a larger budget and new employees. The BI prepared for this task by dispatching specially trained agents to assist regional agents and provided extra funding for travel expenses and equipment such as typewriters and bicycles to field offices between 1903 and 1905. The BI also required local postmasters and police officers to submit names of local Chinese persons and businesses, contacted Euro-Americans who dealt with the Chinese, and sent undercover agents to investigate local situations. The subsequent reports revealed some of the inner workings of the agency. (43) Similar to the 1950s McCarthy era, those arrested could not face their accusers and the BI official acted as judge and jury. The obvious intent of the Chinese census was to reduce the number of Chinese living in the United States. Chinese fluent in English and supporters of the Chinese, primarily corporations using Chinese labor, missionaries who had served or were in China, and American radical Republicans favoring ethnic equality, unsuccessfully opposed the new regulations.

The counting process began as soon as the immigrant applied for admission and went through one of the many interrogation centers that were opened. The BI official, with the help of a Chinese interpreter, determined whether the person should be allowed to enter, receive a certificate of residence or identity, and obtain whatever documents were required to avoid being deported. (44) Sometimes the Chinese interpreters collected bribes or unofficial "fees" in the same corrupt manner as officials in China. Some BI officials in the ports of entry modified the questions and answers of arriving Chinese when given bribes. (45) A few were able to enrich themselves; for example, Yee Gee, a former interpreter, was able to retire with great wealth in Hong Kong by 1913 as a result of his earlier work in the Seattle office of the BI. (46) Some BI agents altered documents so that the Chinese could be admitted after paying a bribe.

Even merchants, who were considered part of the exempt group, had trouble with admission. In 1902, for example, the BI admitted only 1,523 merchants out of the 1,759 who had applied under the exempt status. (47) Those rejected were regarded as fraud cases. By the early 1900s most Chinese in every category encountered greater difficulty in getting admitted.

The expansion of BI power produced the desired results. Sargent reported the highest percentages of rejections of potential Chinese immigrants in the years 1903 to 1905: in 1903, 3,549 arrivals, 16 percent (567) rejected; 1904, 4,409 arrivals, 29.4 percent (1,295) rejected; and 1905, 3,086 arrivals, 15.6 percent (481) rejected. (48) As demonstrated in the commissioner general's annual reports to Congress, his subordinates were given great latitude in carrying out his anti-Chinese directives, especially arrests and deportations. By 1903 the Chinese were not the only ethnic group excludable and deportable. Contract workers of all ethnicities, anarchists, the mentally ill, and other "undesirables" were included. Unlike the others, the Chinese were subject to be deported under a separate track that, among other procedures, allowed the decision to be made in a hearing held by a justice, judge, or commissioner of the court. (49) Clearly the Chinese were treated differently and faced greater restrictions than other immigrants.

The BI's 1905 Special Chinese Census had resounding effects. Although California's calculations were not finalized and given only as an approximate figure, the census showed that in 1900 there were 89,606 Chinese, with 6,657 citizens, while in 1905 there were 70,690 Chinese, with only 3,217 citizens. What is perhaps of greater concern was that only 18,896 had evidence to remain, 6,239 (all outside of California) had "no evidence" but the right to remain, and 45,555 were in the "unknown" category and potentially subject to immediate deportation. (50) The small number of citizens and the inability of the noncitizens to be naturalized made the Chinese very vulnerable to fight against the procedures. Although the complete report was never made public, a summary was presented to Congress in May 1906 that detailed the counting and stricter enforcement of the exclusion laws against the Chinese. (51) Almost half of the Chinese counted by the Bureau of the Census in 1900 could be deported. Because the BI encountered difficulties in taking the census, primarily because of inadequate staffing and Chinese resistance, a complete count nationally was not accomplished. Eventually these Chinese records became part of the INS files preserved at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C.

One of the main goals of the Chinese census was deportation. The first deportation was reported in the San Francisco newspaper on August 10, 1893. (52) In that same year the U.S. Supreme Court heard its first Geary Act deportation case, Fong Yue Ting v. United States (149 U.S. 698). Fong, who had lived in the United States for fourteen years, and two other men all were found without their certificates but had violated no other laws. They were arrested and deported. The case raised the question of whether deportation was an unwarranted punishment. The court majority decided that the government had the constitutional right to determine who should reside in the country. The dissenting judges believed that it was a punishment because when arrested the individual was deprived of his liberty, and when deported he was forcibly taken away from his job, business, family, and property. (53) This decision forced the Chinese laborers and others to register in order to avoid deportation if they had sufficient funds.

The BI seldom publicized the enforcement aspects of their policies perhaps to avoid public outcry and reaction. The governments cost of deportation was almost never reported in the media. With a larger budget for the BI, the government could use the census to ferret out candidates for deportation. (54) In 1904 (budget year ending in June) the BI spent $432,220 for enforcement and an average of $112 for each Chinese deported--a total of $75,536. This amount did not include those arriving without papers and returned at the shipping company's expense. (55)

The following chart summarizes data in the Report of 1906 (p. 76):
Year    Arrested   Acquitted    Deportee   Cost of

1901    807        457          440        $46,940
1902    1,128      609          519        $54,100
1903    1,420      716          704        $80,375
1904    1,493      1,010        783        $75,536
1905    1,086      441          647        $67,730

The number arrested compared with the number acquitted showed the lack of fairness in the government's actions. The cost of deportations was expensive, especially when considering that the salaries and travel expenses of agents were not included in the deportation expenses.

Fear of deportation grew rapidly as BI actions became known among the Chinese. When the data was broken down by states, the results were dramatic. By randomly selecting Oregon and Washington as illustrative, out of a total Chinese population in both states of 5,623, only 2,602 had the required documents. In September 1905 Oregon's immigration officials counted 4,687 Chinese: laborers, 3,916; merchants, 297; American-born, 48; and women, children, and others with unknown occupations, 426. Of the total, 510 knew that they had a right to remain in the United States, but 4,177 did not. (56) By contrast more Chinese in Washington State had the required documents. Washington's profile was as follows: laborers, 2,225; merchants, 329; merchant wives, 23; merchant children, 55; students, teachers, Chinese officials, and visitors, 30; and no knowledge of occupation or citizenship, 10. Among all of these Chinese, 2,092 were able to show their certificates of residence or visas, but 844 could not and so potentially could have been deported. (57) Many Chinese were apprehensive about their ability to remain, and for those who wanted to travel back to China for a visit, they could no longer be certain that they could return.

The BI's ability to arbitrarily deport Chinese was reaffirmed in the decision of United States v.Ju Toy (198 U.S. 253) on May 8, 1905, which denied the Chinese the right of reentry despite being born in the United States. Like many upper-class and middle-class Chinese in the United States, Ju Toy had been sent to China for education. Ju Toy challenged the BI's decisions to deny reentry through habeas corpus as the Chinese had done prior to this decision. (58) Earlier they often were successful in their efforts because of treaty agreements, especially the 1868 Burlingame Treaty, but by 1905 this was no longer a viable course of action. (59) Apprehension intensified because even being an American citizen by birth like Ju Toy did not guarantee reentry. The Chinese began to understand the importance of the required certificates.

Because of the necessity of having documentation, thousands applied for duplicate certificates between 1903 and 1920 (fig. 2). From 1903 to 1905, while the special Chinese census was being conducted, many Chinese, realizing that they had lost their valuable documents, applied for official duplicates. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, as well as major Chinatown fires in other locations such as El Paso, Texas, and other catastrophes, including robberies, contributed to the loss of documents. Many had kept their important papers in the safes of trusted businessmen, friends, or relatives, then forgot about the certificates. Immigration official raids made them search for the paper or obtain a duplicate copy. The applications for duplicate documents told stories relating to the lives of the individuals from the time of their arrival until the filing. (60) This was a new source of information about the lives of early Chinese Americans. The birth dates and immigration dates of individuals became important in order to correlate names on the applications with those in local documents and Bureau of Census records, and knowledge of the registration numbers could be used to locate the individuals on the lists of original certificates. Witnesses provided additional information about the individuals and the community. In many of the applications for duplicate certificates of residence, the most prominent members of the Chinese community testified; because of this, these men could be identified and facts about them were revealed. The date of the original application was noted to determine if one had been a "registration resister" (complying with the CCBA directive) and these applicants were closely scrutinized.

A typical example of the information provided about an individual is seen in the case of Di You, a single Chinese female who applied for a duplicate certificate of residence in 1904 and received one in February 1905. (61) She was born in China in 1862, immigrated to San Francisco, moved to Los Angeles where she became a seamstress, and finally, around 1900, moved to Bakersfield, California. A Chinese cook, Ching Hing Lung, and a Chinese merchant and community leader, Chin Wing, both with certificates of residence and residing in Los Angeles, testified on Di You s behalf and asserted that her certificate dated back to 1894. Both assured the immigration official that she was not a prostitute, although unmarried seamstresses were believed to be such according to American stereotypes. Di You had left her belongings and certificate with the Chinese merchants neighbor and when she returned to Los Angeles in 1904, Chin Wing told her that her certificate was destroyed in a 1901 fire and advised her to apply for a duplicate since he had helped her apply for her original one. A lengthy investigation and expensive deposition took place. Once the BI verified the 1901 fire at the address in question and verified other facts in her deposition, the BI issued a duplicate certificate.

Another typical case was seen in February 1905 when Lum Ah Yee, who was born in Courtland, California, tried to reenter at age twenty-seven after being educated in China since 1882. (62) The immigration inspector felt Lum's story was based on coaching papers (used by paper sons) despite the fact that his father was still in Courtland and many Euro-American Courtland residents had testified about the son's existence. The determination of Lum Ah Yee's admission rested on his physical resemblance to his father, and since it was not close the eventual outcome was his deportation. His mother's appearance (he supposedly looked like her) was not considered. The BI's judicial powers, harsh stance, and reliance on physical appearance and government documentation increased Chinese deportations in this period.

BI deportation raids also took place. In Portland, Oregon, BI officials arrested Chinese without warrants and without any legal process and made decisions on admissions or deportations without hearings according to the official regulations. (63) One of the most publicized cases that even made the newspapers and media in China was the surprise raid in Boston's Chinatown in October 1903 when approximately 300 Chinese were arrested without a warrant for lack of documentation. Praising the effectiveness of the BI, American newspapers reported that 250 were to be deported. In the end only 5 men were deported as unlawful aliens. (64) Imagine the suffering and anguish these men had to endure and the insecurity that spread in the Chinatowns across the United States and the personal affront felt by those in China.

Most Chinese believed that the exclusion laws "lacked social and moral legitimacy" and therefore justified their use of illegal means of entering the country, primarily as "paper relatives," using falsified documents, and through border crossings or smuggling. (65) Numerous entries in the Congressional Record noted that the Chinese were deceitful by nature and had devised methods, primarily smuggling through Canada and Mexico or by using the "paper relatives" system (China-born sons, daughters, and wives who paid for fraudulent papers showing relationship to a Chinese legally in the United States) in order to circumvent the exclusion laws. (66) This led many officials to believe that all Chinese were liars. (67) However, the immigration officials with their sole discretionary powers had allowed some fraudulent relatives into the country and barred some real relatives. The BI estimated that 71,040 Chinese entered as "derivative citizens"--by which the BI meant children (usually male) born in China to men legally in America and thus lawfully eligible to enter the United States, and sometimes others who derived their qualification to enter based on their relationship to Chinese men legally in America. (68) Often the Chinese or Chinese American man sold "slots" to relatives, friends, or others who wanted to come to the United States and falsely claimed them as sons or daughters or wives. Coaching books about the native village, relatives, home, ancestral temple, and other information were provided so that the paper relatives could pass the BI interrogations. Commonly asked questions included the number of windows in the home, the direction of the front door, the number of houses on the block, and a description of the ancestral temple. Officials claimed that one-fourth of the Chinese entering during the exclusionary years (1882-1943) were really "paper relatives" and this justified their actions. (69) Undercover agents, some of whom were Chinese, tried to monitor activities, especially smuggling and "paper relatives" in Chinatowns, and federal agents became more active in their efforts to keep out and deport the Chinese. During this period, BI officials gained the judicial power to determine who could enter and who could stay.

Smuggling became the easiest way to evade the exclusion laws, but the system was complicated. The BI estimated that between 1882 and 1920 seven thousand to twenty-one thousand Chinese entered illegally. (70) By 1899 the BI had compiled data about various smuggling routes. One of the easiest was to cross the border from Mexico into either California or Texas. One example was in El Paso, Texas. According to informants and undercover agents, after the 1882 Exclusion Act was passed, three members of the Yu (in Cantonese, Yee) clan, Yee Yick, Yee Chew Jong, and Yee Dock Sing, began operating a profitable smuggling ring that was detailed in a report by the Bureau in 1899. (71) Yee Yick, manager of the Quong Hing Wo Company in El Paso, was in charge of obtaining cooperation from corrupt government officials and allegedly had in his "employ" BI officials who obtained old Chinese merchant papers from the BI's files and gave them to Yee Yick, who removed the photographs so that new ones could be attached. The papers then were given to May Gong, whose real name was Mary Cratty, a Euro-American woman who claimed to be the wife of Yee Chew Jong and who easily crossed the border to the Sing Lee Company in Juarez, Mexico. There she coached the Chinese hopefuls on the information they needed to know when immigration officials interrogated them upon entry at the U.S. border. The Chinese gathered at Sing Lee's through a variety of sea and land routes, obtained the documents at $50 per certificate, and then crossed the border. Once in Texas, the Chinese boarded the train for the final destination. Before they were able to leave, Charles Mehan, one of the BI's inspectors, got on the train, demanded the required certificate of residence, and questioned the Chinese, asking for the name of a witness, who inevitably turned out to be Yee Yick. According to the undercover agent's report, the illegal immigrants disembarked and had to pay another $50 per person before the next immigration hearing or risk being deported. By the time the detainees left El Paso for a final destination--Chicago, Boston, and Los Angeles being very popular--they had paid $175 in "transit fees" to gain unlawful admission.

Because of the serious problem of Chinese being smuggled in from Mexico, officials in Arizona and New Mexico were very active in the arrest and deportation of illegal Chinese. BI officials arrested numerous Chinese but had to release a substantial percentage because the arrests were in error. In the final 1905 Special Chinese Census report, of 1,320 Chinese in Arizona and 155 in New Mexico, BI officials stated that all possessed the right to remain in the country. (72) But the Arizona BI agents continued to be active in arresting and deporting Chinese: in the latter part of 1905 (after the final report was completed), 183 Chinese were arrested, 25 discharged, 138 deported, and 20 were appealing their cases. In 1906, 113 were arrested, 16 discharged, 91 deported, and 6 were appealing. In 1907 the figures increased to 127 arrested, 17 discharged, 83 deported, with 2 having died and 25 appealing their cases. (73) In 1905 in New Mexico, with its much smaller Chinese population of 155, 33 were arrested, 5 discharged, 24 deported, and 4 appealing their cases; in 1906, 46 were arrested, 8 discharged, 24 deported, and 14 appealing. And, as in Arizona, the numbers increased in 1907, with 71 arrested, 6 discharged, 62 deported, and 3 appealing. (74) Even in Midwestern and Eastern locations, especially near the Canadian border and in Florida, numerous arrests and deportations took place in this era of exclusion. It is not surprising that the Chinese were suspicious of Euro-American "government-looking" individuals appearing at their place of work or at their home and asking questions. The fear of deportation was widespread among those without official documentation.


The harsher restrictions on immigration had a profound effect on the Chinese in South China, the birthplace of many Chinese immigrants, and on the Qing (Manchu) government, which was viewed as a weak government that was unable to protect the Chinese abroad. Family clans and villages that benefited from their overseas relations' contributions to their coffers and to village improvement projects, especially in support of education and modernization projects; labor contractors who earned fees for the recruited laborers; money lenders who assisted in paying passage and who charged large percentages on the loans; and merchant families who provided goods, especially food products and daily wares, for the Overseas Chinese in their "branch" stores all suffered from the decreasing Chinese population in America because of the immigration policies. (75) Wealthy Chinese in the United States donated to a variety of Chinese causes, such as the building of educational institutions or restoration of flooded areas, that were often not limited to southeastern China. When the Chinese American population decreased, these funds were no longer forthcoming. Influential members of the Chinese community complained to American missionaries like Gilbert Reid, who in turn warned the American government that missionaries in China would be in danger if the harsh immigration policies were maintained. (76) This became a reality with the 1900 Boxer Uprising in northeastern and north-central China. Some of the Chinese sailors who worked on transpacific ships like those of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company lost their jobs as the number of Chinese immigrating to the United States declined and the steamship companies lost thousands of dollars in the transportation of goods and people. (77) The leaders of the failed 1898 Reform Movement, Kang Youwei and Liang Qichao, traveled to the United States to instill a spirit of nationalism among the Overseas Chinese and advocated for a constitutional government similar to the successful one adopted in Japan. (78) Sun Yatsen, who later became the first president of the new Chinese Republic, called for the overthrow of the Manchu rulers and the establishment of a Chinese-led republican form of government. (79) These three men came from Guangdong, raised support and money from the Chinese in the United States, stimulated a sense of nationalism or patriotism among Overseas Chinese, and addressed the mistreatment of Chinese Americans in their speeches. The Boxer Uprising of 1900 demonstrated the growing xenophobia in China, and the indemnity payments to foreign governments angered many Chinese citizens who had to pay higher taxes in order for the Manchu government to pay the indemnities to the foreigners. These forces came together in 1905.

By 1905 the Chinese in the United States and China prepared to put into effect an anti-American boycott in retaliation for the harsh immigration policies. (80) A boycott had been proposed earlier but now gained wider support. Many earlier scholars have failed to appreciate the significance of the harsh tactics employed by the BI in carrying out the Chinese census as a contributing cause to the boycott. The earlier Geary Act and the other laws and policies that had been adopted were intensified by the harsher government practices, arrests, and deportations; this increased national and transnational sentiment among the Chinese and led to mass support for the idea of a boycott of American goods. The Chinese census heightened the urgency to act. In 1904 the influential Reverend Wu Panzhao (Cantonese, Ng Poon Chew), the founder of San Francisco's Chinese-language daily, Chung Sai Yat Bo (Chinese American Daily newspaper), complained about the certificates of residence and the harassment by immigration officials and concluded, "the U.S. Government is attempting to expel all Chinese" (81) [emphasis mine]. Wu editorialized that all Chinese were being treated like dogs because of American government policies. He embarked on a nationwide speaking tour that urged Chinese Christians to join with other groups, including native-born Chinese Americans, to end the demonization and mistreatment of Chinese immigrants. Chinese Americans appealed to Chinese government officials, as well as friends, family, and business connections in China, to help them in their protest and believed that the boycott was their method of choice. At first the corrupt, failing Manchu (Qing) government in China did not take a stance on the problems of their overseas citizens. But several events forced the government into action. These included the harsh interrogations of the merchants applying for visas to participate in the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair; the mistreatment of Chinese imperial bodyguard Tom Yung-kim, who was mistakenly beaten by San Francisco policemen and then committed suicide in shame in 1903; and the harassment of students legitimately studying in the United States. (82) In March 1905 the Chinese minister in Washington, D.C., Chentung Liangcheng, in a letter to the American acting secretary of state, unsuccessfully argued against the Chinese census, which he astutely pointed out had not been authorized by Congress. (83) He also stated that it would have an adverse effect on the current negotiations for the renewal of the immigration treaty between the United States and China. He asserted, "This action is causing much disturbance and anxiety among the Chinese."

Chinese American newspapers and organizations quickly endorsed the impending boycott, an idea that began in 1900 and grew in support in several parts of the United States. The president of the ZGT, Huang Sande, addressed Chinese audiences throughout the United States on the discriminatory and unfair exclusion laws and urged support of a boycott. In early June 1906 the CCBA joined Chinese Christian groups and many others in announcing its support. (84) Placards were placed in stores, newspapers carried supportive editorials and stories, and pressure was placed on Chinese businesses selling American products to boycott American goods.

Meanwhile, the BI continued its campaign against illegal Chinese. Some Americans began to voice their opinions in favor of a more liberalized immigration policy. American businessmen, fearful of an expanding boycott and desiring the wealth from the rich "China trade," began to take an interest in immigration matters and joined missionaries and others calling for a reevaluation and liberalization of immigration policies. Records indicate that the growing trade in exports to China between 1897 and 1905 had quadrupled. (85) According to a report in the Senate, trade with China was worth S30 million in 1904 and in the first ten months of 1905 the figures rose to $40 million. (86) The threat of a loss of profits motivated some Americans to join in the debate. The American Asiatic Association (businessmen in the China trade) criticized the mistreatment of four Chinese students in the Boston raid of June 2, 1905, and were among those who pressured Roosevelt to modify Chinese immigration policies. (87)

Beginning in June of 1905, Chinese merchants--particularly those in Canton, Shanghai, Xiamen, Tianjin, and other towns and ports on the east coast of China as well as in some Overseas Chinese communities--boycotted the handling of American goods. (88) Support of the boycott crossed class lines as the media, students, workers, and others rallied in favor of the boycott. Earlier in 1905 Ji Youci, a popular Cantonese writer, published an article entitled "Bitter Student," which vividly reported the ill-treatment Chinese students received in the United States and effectively stimulated resentment against American discrimination. (89) By mid-1905 the anti-American movement had a martyr. Feng Xiawei (1880-1905), one of the victims of the 1903 Boston raid, returned to China in distress and wrote a widely circulated book about his unhappy experiences in the United States. (90) Then on July 16, 1905, Feng committed suicide near the American consulate in Shanghai. Feng's book and his martyrdom made a profound impression on many Chinese and served as the connection between the American immigration policies and practices and the anti-American boycott. In South China cities, thousands of Chinese, including students, teachers, workers, merchants, and relatives of Overseas Chinese, joined demonstrations in Feng's memory and supported the 1905 boycott against American goods.

The boycott was effective in limited areas. It was estimated that Americans had lost over 20 percent of their business in Chinese port cities. (91) Standard Oil Company in Canton reported a sales decrease from a monthly average of ninety thousand cases of oil prior to May 1905 to the minimum of nineteen thousand cases in the month of November 1905. (92) Fearing that the potential trade with the China market might be permanently harmed, American businessmen sought their government's help to stop the boycott. The boycott allowed several native Chinese industries to develop to the point where the equivalent foreign product, such as flour, was no longer needed or no longer dominated the market. Only in late September did the effects of the boycott begin to diminish. The boycott did not end until 1906. By then the results of the Chinese census had been made public and the arrests and deportations of alleged illegal Chinese were more widespread.

The boycott briefly led to more leniency in BI policies. Pressured by the potentially explosive trade situation, President Theodore Roosevelt tried to stop the abuses that had developed by calling for an end to the BI mistreatment of Chinese merchants, students, and visitors, which eventually evolved into a threat of dismissal for immigration officials who had abused their power. (93) In 1905 29 percent of immigration certificates approved by American consuls in China were rejected; in 1906 only 6 percent were rejected. This was an important change in American government policy. As for the families of Chinese merchants who sought admission to the United States, in 1905 the BI had rejected 17 percent of the applicants for admission; in 1906 this number fell to 8 percent, indicating some leniency. (94) The BI officials complained about the liberalization of the enforcement policies, but once the hue and cry was over they continued in their punitive actions under a different agency name while turning to exclude other ethnic groups using the knowledge gained in Chinese exclusion. (95)

In September 1906 the BI was renamed the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN) and its powers expanded. (96) New methods were adopted, such as the 1909 border patrols that were active in stopping smuggling and illegal entries with special "Chinese catchers"--agents from the BI who arrested illegal Chinese. Although local newspapers celebrated these achievements, illegal immigration continued on a smaller scale for many years thereafter. (97)


The 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act was the first U.S. law ever passed to exclude a group based solely on race. Dissatisfied with its effectiveness, additional federal laws were passed and the realization of the need for a strict enforcement agency had to be established. Thus the Bureau of Immigration, led by presidential appointees, was created. The first two commissioners general of immigration, Powderly and Sargent, had strong ties to the anti-Chinese labor unions, and in their position of power adopted harsh regulations and procedures to prevent further Chinese immigration and to decrease the Chinese population in the United States.

The mandatory identification papers were a prelude to the 1905 Special Chinese Census, which allowed for the arrest and deportation of those found without a government-issued identification certificate. BI agents raided Chinatowns in search of those without the proper documentation and arrested hundreds of innocent people.

The Chinese in the United States and in Chinese port cities felt that the BI policies were inherently unfair if not immoral. They tried to circumvent the policies in several ways, including smuggling, falsifying documents, and creating "paper relatives," who were supposed to be eligible to enter the United States. They unsuccessfully sought redress through the American courts. They appealed to Manchu officials without any tangible results because the Chinese government was too weak and suffered from internal dissension. Leaders of Chinese American organizations and Chinatowns called for a boycott of American goods to try to persuade the American government to change some of the offensive practices. The 1905 anti-American boycott was somewhat successful in causing fear among American businessmen that their stake in the lucrative China trade was threatened. The boycott allowed some Chinese industries, such as flour, to thrive. President Theodore Roosevelt also ordered modifications in the enforcement of the anti-Chinese policies. BI leaders were unhappy with the liberalization of their Chinese policies but eventually realized they could resume most of their practices after the boycott ended. In 1906 the BI was subsequently renamed the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization and had greater powers over all immigrants. The downward trend of the Chinese population continued. According to the Census Bureau the figures were as follows: in 1900, 89,863 (down from 107,488 in 1890--a decline of 16.4 percent); in 1910, 71,753 (a decline of 20.4 percent); and in 1920, 61,639 (a decline of 13.8 percent).

The history of Chinese exclusionary laws and the men who interpreted and enforced them provides insight into some of the overreaching actions of present-day immigration officials. The appointment of leaders with a personal agenda, especially racial and political, can lead to the denial of rights that should be protected under the constitution and through the courts. The survival of American democracy depends upon preserving and protecting those rights for all Americans in this nation of immigrants.


(1.) The Burlingame-Seward Treaty of 1868 assured the Chinese the same rights as other immigrants, but this was ignored in the exclusionary laws. Some outstanding books and articles have covered the history of the early immigration of the Chinese, the background and reasons for the passage of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, and its impact upon later immigration legislation. The text of the Gear)' Act is at docs/1892Geary Act.pdf. Recent literature also describes the negative stereotypes of the Chinese, whom nativists considered inferior and unable to assimilate; legal challenges and court decisions; and the anti-Chinese movements that intensified with the rise of labor unions. See, for example, Beth Lew-Williams, The Chinese Must Go: Violence, Exclusion, and the Making of the Alien in America (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2018); John R. Wunder, Gold Mountain Turned to Dust: Essays on the Legal History of the Chinese in the Nineteenth Century American West (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2018); and Bill Ong Hing, Making and Remaking Asian America through Immigration Policy (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1993).

(2.) Examples of the certificates can be found from the University of California, Berkeley, through the Library of Congress website at The California Historical Society has seventeen certificates of residence online at certificates-of-residence.html. These records are found in several branches of the National Archives and Records Administration listed under the Immigration and Naturalization Service (successor of the BI), Record Group 85.

(3.) For a background on the violence, see Lew-Williams, The Chinese Must Go, Pan 2.

(4.) Christian G. Fritz, "A Nineteenth Century Habeas Corpus Mill: Chinese before the Federal Courts in California," American Journal of Legal History 32 (October 1988): 347-72; and E. P. Hutchinson, Legislative History of Immigration Policy 1789-1965 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1981).

(5.) See, for example, Adam McGowan, "Transnational Chinese Families and Chinese Exclusion, 1875-1943,'"Journal of American Ethnic History 18, no. 2 (Winter 1999): 73-110; Sucheng Chan, "Exclusion of Chinese Women, 1870-1943," in Entry Denied: Exclusion and the Chinese Community in America, 1882-1943, ed. Sucheng Chan (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991), 94-196; George Anthony Peffer, "Forbidden Families: Emigration Experience of Chinese Women under the Page Law, 1875-1882," Journal of American Ethnic History 6 (1986): 28-45; and "From under the Sojourner's Shadow: A Historiographical Study of Chinese Female Immigration to America, 1852-1882," Journal of American Ethnic History 11 (1992): 41-67.

(6.) Kenneth Chew, Mark Leach, and John M. Liu, "The Revolving Door to Gold Mountain: How Chinese Immigrants Got around U.S. Chinese Exclusion and Replenished the Chinese American Labor Pool, 1900-1910," International Migration Review 43, no. 2 (Summer 2009): 412; and Kenneth Chew, S.Y. Patel, and John M. Liu, "Hidden in Plain Sight: Global Labor Force Exchange in the Chinese American Population, 1880-1940," Population and Development Review 30, no. 1 (March 2004): 57-78.

(7.) Beth Lew-Williams, "Before Restriction Became Exclusion: America's Experiment in Diplomatic Immigration Control," Pacific Historical Review 83, no. 1 (2014): 24-56.

(8.) U.S. Senate, Report from the Treasury Department Relating to the Exclusion of Chinese, 57th Cong., 1st. sess. (1902), Sen. Doc. 291, 19. Restrictive anti-Chinese laws began in 1862 with the Coolie Act (12 Stat. 340), followed by the 1875 Page Act (18 Stat. 477), and culminated with the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act (29 Stat. 214).

(9.) The number of Chinese admitted grew rapidly until the 1882 Exclusion Act, then declined drastically until the beginning of 1891 when the figures once again increased: 16,668 in 1851-1855; 24,729 in 1856-1860; 24,282 in 1861-1865; 40,019 in 1866-1870; 65,428 in 1871-1875; 65,428 in 1876-1880; 57,773 in 1881-1885; then dropping to 1,910 in 1886-1890; and rising to 5,017 in 1891-1895; up again to 9,782 in 1896-1900; and to 12,792 in 1901-1905. Although not as large as before, the increase after 1891 led the Bureau's leaders to take a harsher stance on Chinese immigration and immigrants.

(10.) U.S. Congress, Cong. Rec., 52nd Cong., 1st sess. (April 23, 1892), 3559.

(11.) Place names, personal names, and names of organizations are transliterated in the pinyin system whenever possible. In some cases Chinese surnames are given first. On the complications of Chinese names, see Emma Louie, Chinese American Names: Tradition and Transition (Jefferson, N.C.: MacFarland, 1998). For more information on the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, see Yuchang Qin, "Six Companies Diplomacy: Chinese Merchants and Late Qing Policy toward Exclusion 1848-1911" (PhD. diss., University of Iowa, 2002); Ellen Katz, "The Six Companies and the Geary Act: A Case Study in Nineteenth Century Civil Disobedience and Civil Rights Litigation," Western Legal History 8, no. 2 (1995): 227-71; Him Mark Lai, "Historical Development of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association/Huiguan_System," Chinese America: History & Perspectives (1987): 13-51; Douglas W Lee, "Sacred Cows and Paper Tigers: Politics in Chinese America, 1880-1900," Annals of the Chinese Historical Society of the Pacific Northwest 3 (1985-1986): 198-231; and Sue Fawn Chung, "The Zhigongtang in the United States, 1860-1949," in Empire, Nation, and Beyond: Chinese History in Late Imperial and Modern Times, ed. Wen-hsin Yeh and Joseph Eshrick (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006), 231-49. By May 1893 only 13,000 Chinese had registered and some 90,000 had not according to Roger Daniels, Guarding the Golden Door American Immigration Policy and Immigrants Since 1882 (New York: Hill and Wang 2004), 21-22.

(12.) For more information, see George E. Paulsen, "The Abrogation of the Gresham-Yang Treaty," Pacific Historical Review 40, no. 4 (November, 1971): 457-77.

(13.) On the later adoption of the certificates of identity, see

(14.) See Nan Abrams, "The Greenwalds of Humboldt County: The Emerald Opium Ring and the Case of the Chinese Certificates," Western States Jewish History 41, no. 3 (Winter 2011): 101-14, on fraudulent certificates and other nefarious activities.

(15.) The rush for duplicate certificates began after the word spread about the special census. In addition to the written word, this kind of information was circulated informally at gatherings, organizational meetings, churches, and through travelers and friends.

(16.) Mary Robert Coolidge, Chinese Immigration (New York: Henry Holt, 1909), 283, provides more details.

(17.) Delbert L. McKee, "'The Chinese Must Go!' Commissioner General Powderly and Chinese Immigration, 1897-1902," Pennsylvania History 44, no. 1 (Winter 1977): 41-42.

(18.) Paulsen, "Abrogation," 457-77; and "Gresham-Yang Treaty," 281-97, which may be found in U.S. Statutes at Large, 28, 1210, and has been discussed by several U.S.-China relations scholars.

(19.) Paulsen, "Abrogation," 457-77; and "Gresham-Yang Treaty, 281-97."

(20.) Letter from the secretary of commerce and labor to the secretary of state, dated April 6, 1905, in response to a letter of protest from the Chinese minister Chentung Liangcheng to acting secretary of state Alvey A. Adee, dated March 31, 1905. Immigration and Naturalization Service, Record Group 85, Entry 132, File 13653, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C. [Hereafter abbreviated INS, RG 85, NARA]

(21.) Todd Stevens, "Tender Ties: Husbands' Rights and Racial Exclusion in Chinese Marriage Cases, 1882-1924," Law and Social Inquiry 27, no. 2 (Spring 2002): 271-305; George Anthony Peffer, If They Don't Bring Their Women Here: Chinese Female Immigration before Exclusion (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1999); Huping Ling, Surviving on the Gold Mountain: A History of Chinese American Women and Their Lives (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998); Shauna Lo, "Chinese Women Entering New England: Chinese Exclusion Act Case Files, Boston, 1911-1925," New England Quarterly 81, no. 3 (September 2008): 383-409; and Lucie Cheng Hirata, "Free, Indentured, Enslaved: Chinese Prostitutes in Nineteenth-Century America," Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 5, no. 1 (Autumn 1979): 3-29, provide a background to the situation of Chinese women and prostitution.

(22.) See, for example, the headline in the Los Angeles Times (April 8, 1901), "How Mr. and Mrs. Ah Quin Have Stuffed the Census of San Diego" (with their twelve children). This reflected the general American belief that the Chinese always had large families and therefore would quickly increase the Chinese American population.

(23.) In Re: Chung Toy Ho, 1890, 42, Federal Reporter 398, 399.

(24.) The difficulties for Chinese women is discussed in U.S. House of Representatives, 59th Cong., 2nd sess. (December 1, 1906), Doc. 7, "Annual Report of the Secretary of the Department of Commerce and Labor," 551-84, especially on Chinese exclusion and difficulty of closing loopholes on women and minor children, 562; and works cited in note 21.

(25.) INS RG 85, Entry 132, Box 104, Files 13698-13700, 13713, NARA, Washington, D.C.

(26.) Later called the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (from 1906 to 1933) and then the name was changed to Immigration and Naturalization Service or INS (1933 to 2003).

(27.) Customs, in charge of enforcing the law, did not have adequate power, funding, and personnel and therefore made the 1882 Exclusion Act relatively ineffective.

(28.) Terence V Powderly, in The Path I Trod: The Autobiography of Terence V. Powderly, ed. Harry J. Camion, Henry David, and Paul Guthrie (New York: Columbia University Press, 1968; reprint of 1940 ed.), clearly expressed his racist positions. Powderly supported the anti-Chinese rhetoric of Denis Kearney, who brought the Chinese issue into national prominence. See also studies on Chinese-Irish relations in the United States, for example, Daniel J. Meissner, "Irish and Chinese Labor in San Francisco, 1850-1870," in The Irish of the San Francisco Bay Area--Essays on Good Fortune, ed. Donald Jordan and Timothy J. O'Keefe (San Francisco: Irish Literary and Historical Society, 2005), 54-86.

(29.) Anna Pegler-Gordon, "Chinese Exclusion, Photography, and the Development of U.S. Immigration Policy," American Quarterly 58, no. 1 (March 2006): 51-77; and "In Sight of America: Photography and United States Immigration Policy, 1880-1930" (PhD diss., University of Michigan, 2002, chapters 1-3) details the background and process of photographing the Chinese during the exclusionary period. The success of the practice led to the inclusion of other foreigners immigrating to the United States.

(30.) See also Edward James, "T. V. Powderly, A Political Profile," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 99, no. 4 (October 1975): 443-45; Adam McKeown discusses Powderly and Sargent in his study "Ritualization of Regulation: The Enforcement of Chinese Exclusion in the United States and China," American Historical Review 108, no. 2 (April 2003): 377-403; Delbert L. McKee, "The Chinese Must Go!' Commissioner General Powderly and Chinese Immigration, 1897-1902," Pennsylvania History 44, no. 1 (Winter 1977): 37-51.

(31.) Delbert L. McKee, Chinese Exclusion versus the Open Door Policy, 1000-1906: Clashes over China Policy in the Roosevelt Era, (Detroit: Wayne State University, 1977), 33-34. James Dunn, inspector in charge of the Chinese Bureau, San Francisco, had numerous charges filed against him for the mistreatment of Chinese immigrants. See, for example, INS, RG 85, Entry 132, Box 15, File 1617, NARA, Washington, D.C. On arrests, see INS, RG 85, "Statistical Records of Arrests of Chinese on the Charge of Being in the U.S. in Violation of the Law, 19051907," Entry 141, Volume 1, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

(32.) McKee, '"The Chinese Must Go!,"' 49.

(33.) McKeown, "Ritualization of Regulation," has compiled the data from the Annual Reports of the Commissioner General of Immigration between 1894-1924, 390.

(34.) Roger Daniels, Coming to America: A History of Immigration and Ethnicity in American Life, 2nd ed. (New York: Perennial, 2002), and other works on general immigration and the increase in immigrants from eastern Europe in the 1890s.

(35.) Arthur Mann, "Gompers and the Irony of Racism," Antioch Review 13 (June 1953): 208.

(36.) Silas Geneson, "Cry Not in Vain: The Boycott of 1905," Chinese America: History & Perspectives (1997): 29.

(37.) U.S. House of Representatives, 58th Cong., 3rd sess. (June 1904), Doc. 412, "Report of the Commissioner General of Immigration," and (December 1904), Doc. 404, "Report of Department of Commerce and Labor," 136. [Hereafter abbreviated Report of 1904]

(38.) Negotiations for a new treaty had been under way, then in January 1904 the Zongli Yamen (China's foreign office) informed the American minister that the Chinese government would not extend the terms of the 1894 Gresham-Yang Treaty when it expired in December 1904 because of the restrictions on immigration. On the treaty see George E. Paulsen, "The GreshamYang Treaty," Pacific Historical Review 37 (August 1968): 281-97.

(39.) Report of 1904, and U.S. House of Representatives, Cong. Ree., 59th Cong., 1st sess. (1906), Doc. 847, "Compilation of Records from the Bureau of Immigration of Facts Concerning the Enforcement of the Chinese Exclusion Laws," 13. [Hereafter abbreviated Report of 1906]

(40.) Report of 1906, 274. See also Darrel] Hevnor Smith and H. Guy Herring, The Bureau of Immigration: Its History, Activities, and Organization (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University, 1924); and "History of the Immigration and Naturalization Service," Part 1 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1980), at [Hereafter abbreviated "History of INS"]

(41.) INS RG 85, Entry 132, Box 106, Files 13770-13771 in File 13853-C, NARA, Washington, D.C., which includes many of the 1905 census totals. Other census tabulations are located in NARA regional offices, filed according to Bureau of Immigration/INS districts.

(42.) These are detailed in a series of memoranda and correspondence found throughout the records on applications for duplicate certificates of residence. See, for example, INS RG 85, "Segregated Chinese Records, Applications for Duplicate Certificates of Residence, 1893-1920," Entry 137, Box 11, NARA, Washington, D.C.

(43.) This type of "control function" eventually led the INS to be under the Department of Justice from 1940 to 2003, when it was moved to the newly created Department of Homeland Security. See "History of INS."

(44.) Two anonymous informants, describing their close friendships with Chinese interpreters working in the 1920s and 1930s, disclosed the fact that the interpreters regularly received extra money from the Chinese immigrants either before or after the questioning. In China people customarily gave "gifts of money" to officials who successfully assisted them. From the Western perspective the unspecified amounts of money were regarded as bribes or "corruption," but the Chinese felt that this was customary. For more information see Todd M. Stevens, "Brokers between Worlds: Chinese Merchants and Legal Culture in the Pacific Northwest, 1852-1925," (PhD diss., Princeton University, 2003), 343-59; Jeffrey Scott McIllwain, "Bureaucracy, Corruption, and Organized Crime: Enforcing Chinese Exclusion in San Diego, 1897-1902," Western Legal History 17, no. 1 (2004): 83-128; Mae M. Ngai, "A Slight Knowledge of the Barbarian Language: Chinese Interpreters in Late-Nineteenth and Early-Twentieth-Century America," Journal of American Ethnic History 30, no. 2 (Winter 2011): 5-32; and Clifford A. Perkins, "Reminiscences of a Chinese Inspector," Journal of Arizona History 17, no. 2 (Summer 1976): 181-200.

(45.) Stevens, "Brokers between Worlds," 343.

(46.) McKee, Chinese Exclusion, 68.

(47.) McKeown, "Ritualization of Regulation," 390.

(48.) Torrie Hester, 'Protection, Not Punishment': Legislative and judicial Formation of U.S. Deportation Policy, 1882-1904," Journal of American Ethnic History 30, no. 1 (Fall 2010): 11-12.

(49.) INS RG 85, Entry 132, File 52704/2, NARA, Washington, D.C.

(50.) Report of 1906, 77.

(51.) Report of 1906, chapter 11,147-60. There are many excellent studies of the 1905 boycott. For example, Guanhua Wang, In Search of Justice: The 1905-1906 Chinese Anti-American Boycott (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2001).

(52.) San Francisco Bulletin, August 10, 1893.

(53.) Hester, "Protection, Not Punishment," 11.

(54.) INS RG 85, Entry 132, File 52495/4, NARA, Washington, D.C.

(55.) INS RG 85, Entry 132, File 52495/4.

(56.) Report of 1904, 44.

(57.) INS RG 85, Entry 132, Box 106, File 13770 in File 13853-C, NARA, Washington, D.C.

(58.) See Geneson, "Cry Not in Vain," 27-45; and Erika Lee, "Enforcing and Challenging Exclusion in San Francisco: U.S. Immigration Officials and Chinese Immigrants, 1882-1905," Chinese America: History & Perspectives (1997): 1-15.

(59.) See, for example, Kitty Calavita, "Chinese Exclusion and the Open Door with China: Structural Contradictions and the 'Chaos' of Law, 1882-1910," Social and Legal Studies 10, no. 2 (June 1, 2001): 203-26; Christian G. Fritz, "Due Process, Treaty Rights, and Chinese Exclusion, 1882-1891," in Entry Denied: Exclusion and the Chinese Community in America, 1882-1943, ed. Sucheng Chan (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991), 25-56; Charles McClain, In Search of Equality: The Chinese Struggle against Discrimination in the Nineteenth Century (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994); Lucy Salyer, Laws Harsh as Tigers: Chinese Immigration and the Shaping of Modern Immigration Law, 2nd ed. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995); Andrew Gyory, Closing the Gate: Race, Politics, and the Chinese Exclusion Act (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998); Erika Lee, At America's Gates: Chinese Immigration during the Exclusion Era, 1882-1943, new ed. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003); Erika Lee, "The Chinese Are Coming. How Can We Stop Them? Chinese Exclusion and the Origins of American Gatekeeping," in Asian American Studies Now: A Critical Reader, ed. Jean Yu-wen Shen Wu and Thomas C. Chen (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2010), 143-67; and Martin B. Gold, Forbidden Citizens: Chinese Exclusion and the U.S. Congress: A legislative History (Alexandria, Va.: Capitol Net, 2012).

(60.) See note 42.

(61.) INS RG 85, Entry 132, Box 105, File 13736, NARA, Washington, D.C.

(62.) INS RG 85, Entry 132, Box 105, File 13825, NARA, Washington, D.C.

(63.) Marie Rose Wong, Sweet Cakes, Long-journey: The Chinatowns of Portland, Oregon (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2004), 93. Chapter 3 is devoted to the enforcement of exclusion in Portland.

(64.) Newspapers such as the Kansas City Star (October 12, 1903) and Macon Telegraph (October 13, 1903) reported that two hundred of the three hundred arrested would be deported. See Jung-Fang Tsai, Hong Kong in Chinese History: Community and Social Unrest in the British Colony, 1842-1913 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), 183; K. Scott Wong, "'The Eagle Seeks a Helpless Quarry': Chinatown, the Police, and the Press, the 1903 Boston Chinatown Raid Revisited," Amerasia Journal 22, no. 3 (1996): 81-103; and Report of 1906, 128-29.

(65.) Chew, Leach, and Liu, "The Revolving Door," 414, details five basic loopholes that the Chinese used.

(66.) Report of 1906, chapters 2-3; Kitty Calavita, "Collisions at the Intersection of Gender, Race, and Class: Enforcing the Chinese Exclusion Laws," Law & Society Review 40 (2006): 257; and Estelle T. Lau, Paper Families: Identity, Immigration Administration, and Chinese Exclusion (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2006) details the primary method to get around the exclusion laws and the "paper relatives" practice.

(67.) Madeline Hsu, "Gold Mountain Dreams and Paper Sons Schemes: Chinese Immigration under Exclusion," Chinese America: History & Perspectives (1997): 46-60; Madeline Hsu, Dreaming of Cold, Dreaming of Home: Transnationalism and Migration between the United States and South China, 1882-1943, (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2000); and Lau, Paper Families; see also Mae Ngai, "Legacies of Exclusion: Illegal Chinese Immigration during the Cold War Years," Journal of American Ethnic History 18, no. 1 (Fall 1998): 5-6, on the Yee (Yu in pinyin, the transliteration system officially used in the People's Republic of China) clan of San Francisco beginning in 1903. For an example of a coaching book, see letter from (Wong) Bing Foon to (Wong) Som Gar, January 24, 1916, translated by Chinese interpreter H. K. Tang in folder titled "San Francisco District INS, Coaching Papers," Chinese Coaching Materials (Densmore Investigation), INS RG 85, Entry 232, NARA, San Bruno, California.

(68.) Ngai, "Legacies of Exclusion," 4.

(69.) Perkins, "Reminiscences,"181-200; Lau, Paper Families, 118; and Ngai, "Legacies of Exclusion," 3-4. From 1957 to 1965 the INS enumerated 30,460 "paper relations" and sponsored a "Chinese Confession Program" so that fraudulent relatives could revert to their true identities. A total of 11,336 people confessed, and their statements led to the uncovering of 19,124 additional illegal aliens, many of whom were deported. Not everyone participated, so some false identities still remain.

(70.) William H. Siener, "Through the Back Door: Evading the Chinese Exclusion Act along the Niagara Frontier, 1900-1924," Journal of American Ethnic History 27, no. 4 (Summer 2008): 34-70, is one of several studies on smuggling and the exclusion acts.

(71.) Rudolph Vecoli, ed., Research Collections in American Immigration: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service., Series A: Subject Correspondence Files, Part 1 : Asian Immigration and Exclusion, 1906-1913, Reel 20, File 52730/84, report dated March 21, 1899; and Grace P Delgado, "Neighbors by Nature: Relationships, Border Crossings, and Transnational Communities in the Chinese Exclusion Era," Pacific Historical Review 80, no. 3(2011): 401-29.

(72.) Vecoli, Research Co! lections; and Delgado, "Neighbors by Nature."

(73.) INS RG 85, "Statistical Records of Arrests of Chinese on the Charge of Being in the U.S. in Violation of the Law, 1905-1907," Entry 141, Volume 1, NARA, Washington, D.C. This file details information from all states making a report. "Discharged" meant the case was dismissed. See also INS RG 85, Entry 132, File 52704/2, NARA, Washington, D.C.

(74.) Report of 1906, chapter 11, 147-60. There are many excellent studies of the 1905 boycott in several languages. See, for example, Guanhua Wang, In Search of Justice: and Zhang Cunwu, Guangxu sayinian Zhang Mei gongvue fengchao [The Chinese boycott of American goods, 1905-19061 (Taipei: Zhongyang yanjiuyan jindaishi yanjiushuo, 1966).

(75.) Michael Williams, "Destination Qiaoxiang: Pearl River Delta Villages and Pacific Ports, 1849-1949," (PhD diss., University of Hong Kong, 2002), 157; and Rudi Batzell, "Labour, Capitalism and the Anti-slavery Origins of Chinese Exclusion in California in the 1870s," Past and Present 225, no. 1 (November 2014): 157.

(76.) "The Geary Act Defended" (New York Times, May 20, 1893) raised the issue of the danger to foreign missionaries in China because of the passage of the Geary Act. This fear became a reality during the Boxer Uprising in northeastern China in 1900.

(77.) The Pacific Mail Steamship Company, headed by Leland Stanford, with a predominantly Chinese crew, was the main carrier of Chinese immigrants and received, for example, $5.8 million for the passage of 125,000 Chinese. Sucheng Chan, This Bittersweet Soil: The Chinese in California Agriculture, 1860-1910, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989), 27-28. See also Robert Barde, "The Scandalous Ship Mongolia," Steamboat Bill 61, no. 2 (Summer 2004): 112-18.

(78.) On Kang's activities in the United States, see Jane Leung Larson, "The 1905 Anti-American Boycott as a Transnational Chinese Movement," Chinese America: History & Perspectives (1995): 191-98. Reverend Wu and his newspaper supported the Baohuang hui.

(79.) Sun Yatsen became the first president of the Republic of China. See his biographies.

(80.) Kikuchi Takaharu, "Tai-bei Boikotto no Igi" [The meaning of the anti-American boycott in China in 1905], Rekishigaku Kenkyu 193 (1956): 13-22; Wang Lixin, "Zhongguo Jindai Minzu Zhuyi de Xingqi yu Dizhi Meihuo Yundong" [The rise of modern Chinese nationalism and the 1905 anti-American boycott movement], Lishi Yanjiu 1 (January 2000): 21-33; Shih-shan Henry Ts'ai, "Reaction to Exclusion: The Boycott of 1905 and Chinese National Awakening," Historian 39, no. 1 (Winter 1976): 95-110; and Sin-Kiong Wong, Anti-American Boycott Movement in 1905: A Study in Urban Protest (New York: Peter Lang, 2001).

(81.) Quoted in Geneson, "Cry Not in Vain," 30. See also Delbert L. McKee, "The Chinese Boycott of 1905-1906 Reconsidered: The Role of Chinese Americans," Pacific Historical Review 55, no. 2 (May 1986): 171-72.

(82.) McKee, Chinese Exclusion, chapter 5. For the racism involved in the World's Fair, see Carol Ann Christ, '"The Sole Guardians of the Art Inheritance of Asia': Japan and China at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair," Positions_8, no. 3 (Winter 2000): 675-709. On Tom Yung-kim's funeral, see item/00694410/.

(83.) INS RG 85, Entry 132, File 13653, NARA, Washington, D.C.

(84.) McKee, "The Chinese Boycott," 177.

(85.) Calavita, "Chinese Exclusion," 213.

(86.) U.S. Senate_Cong. Ree., 59th Cong., 1st sess. (1906), "Miscellaneous," Vol. 7, No. 449, "The Chinese Boycott," statement by Chauncey R. Burr, p. 2.

(87.) On the American Asiatic Association, see James J. Lorence, "Business and Reform: The American Asiatic Association and the Exclusion Laws, 1905-1907," Pacific Historical Review 39, no. 4 (November 1970): 426. Roosevelt felt that trade with China was relevant to the immigration situation and bowed to the economic pressure.

(88.) See McKee, "The Chinese Boycott," 165-91; Geneson, "Cry Not in Vain," 27-45; and Ts'ai, "Reaction to Exclusion," 95-110. For another perspective, see Linda M. Papageorge, "American Diplomats' Response to Chinese Nationalism: China's Anti-American Boycott, 1905-1906, for Patriotism or Profit?" Proceedings and Papers of the Georgia Association of Historians (1983), 98-110.

(89.) Ts'ai, "Reaction to Exclusion," 97.

(90.) Sin-Kiong Wong, "Die for the Boycott and Nation: Martyrdom and the 1905 Anti-American Movement in China," Modern Asian Studies 35, no. 3 (July 2001): 565-88; and Shih-shan Henry Ts'ai, China and the Overseas Chinese in the United States (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1986), 106. Thousands attended Feng's memorial services.

(91.) Several studies of the boycott discuss the economic and political repercussions; see, for example, Jan Lekschas, "Die Grossmachte und China 1904/05: Die Reaktionen Gegenuber den Nationalen Antiimperialistischen Bewegungen [The Great Powers and China, 1904-05: Reaction against the National Anti-imperialist Movements]," Zeitschrift fur Geschichtswissenschaft 36, no. 10 (1988): 879-86.

(92.) Geneson, "Cry Not in Vain," 85.

(93.) See, for example, U.S. Department of State, Consular Dispatches, Canton, December 4, 1905, National Archives Microfilms, M 101, Roll 19.

(94.) Report of 1906,77.

(95.) Calavita, "Collisions at the Intersection," 274.

(96.) "New Laws for Aliens," Washington Post, September 27, 1906, 10.

(97.) Lee, "Enforcing the Borders," 5.

Caption: Fig. 1. left Certificate of residence. (Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration, San Bruno, California) (right) Certificate of identity. Source: Author's collection.

Caption: Fig. 2. In April 1915, farmer Chung Toy (1873-1927) wrote to the Bureau of Immigration requesting instructions on how to obtain a duplicate certificate of identity because his had been stolen. Source: "Chinese Exclusion" File 41119, National Archives and Records Administration, Riverside, California.


         REG     SPECIAL
STATE    1900     1905      CIT     LABOR     MER

TOTAL   89,606   70,690    3,217   37,735    3,857
CA      45,612   36,672     --     11,893    1,871
OR      10,386    4,687     48      3,916     297
NY      7,144     4,944     748     3,863     193
WA      3,626     2,936     48      2,225     329
MA      2,959     2,125     656     1,437     12
PA      1,918     2,707     213     1,347     209
MT      1,736     1,347      2      1,169     54
IL      1,492     2,279     14      1,758     120
ID      1,465      950      264      847      39
AZ      1,415     1,320     66      1,166     122
NJ      1,390     1,544     144      870      69
NV      1,352     1,144     51       972      76


         MER      MER      EXEMPT

TOTAL    201      408        210     25,062
CA       78       225        73      22,484
OR       --        --        --       426
NY       23        61        20        36
WA       23        55        30        10
MA       --        --        20        --
PA        4        10         5       919
MT        6        15         1        20
IL       24        2          6       180
ID        5        3         --        5
AZ        5        --         3        --
NJ        2        5          2       452
NV        8        15         8        15

           RIGHT TO REMAIN

         HAVE     NO

TOTAL   18,896   6,239   45,555
CA      2,295     --     34,377
OR       510      --     4,177
NY      2,645    2,263     36
WA      2,092     --      844
MA       792      645     688
PA       796      902     919
MT       661      282     104
IL      1,147     146     986
ID       670      210      70
AZ      1,320     --       --
NJ       406      686     452
NV       606      --      538

Cit = citizens

Labor = laborers

Mer = merchants

Unk = unknown

Evid = evidence

Source: Tabulated from INS RG 85, Entry 132, Box 106,
Files 13770-13771 in File 13853-C, National Archieves
and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.
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Date:Jan 1, 2018
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