Race and Gender Discrimination in the Treatment of Immigrants at Angel Island

Presentation author(s)

Olivia Nasatir ’20, Oxnard, California

Majors: History; Psychology
Minor: Law and Social Justice


The experiences of women at Angel Island immigration station reveal the discriminatory practices and general sentiment of the United States against women immigrants of color. Angel Island was an immigration station established in 1910 in San Francisco, California. It served as an immigration and deportation facility. After immigrants arrived they would first be separated by race and gender, then undergo a physical examination, and eventually an interrogation before it was decided whether they could enter the United States. The length of time immigrants remained at Angel Island differed between each person. This presentation will examine the experiences and treatment of women at Angel Island Immigration Station from 1910 to 1940.

Gender, race, and class played pivotal roles in how women immigrants were treated at Angel Island Immigration Station. This can be seen through different treatment in the physical spaces that one was able to inhabit at Angel Island, the medical exams immigrants were required to undergo, the interrogation and interview processes, and the amount of time immigrants were forced to remain at Angel Island before being allowed to enter the United States or being deported.

While the majority of immigrants entering Angel Island were Asian, small groups of white immigrants also arrived at Angel Island. Treatment of immigrants differed according to their race, ethnicity, gender, and class. Comparing the treatment of immigrants of different races sheds light on the discriminatory practices of the U.S between 1910-1940. I focus most specifically on the experiences of Chinese and Japanese women. I will also draw on the experiences of European (white) women immigrants who passed through Angel Island. This comparison demonstrates the racial biases against Asian immigrants.


Beatrice McKenzie

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