ANGEL ISLAND (BCN) – About 350 people traveled to Angel Island Saturday morning for a ceremony to honor their ancestors and mark the 100th anniversary of the island’s immigration station.
The group, made up mostly of Bay Area Chinese-American community members, also included San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar and local religious and community leaders, according to the Rev. Deborah Lee of the Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights.
They took a ferry from San Francisco to Angel Island, where an immigration station processed hundreds of thousands of immigrants, mostly from China, between 1910 and 1940. During World War II, Japanese and German prisoners of war were also held on the island.
In 1962, with the immigration station long since closed, the entire island became a state park.
Lee said along with honoring the history of the island, Saturday’s trip symbolizes how many of the issues immigrants faced at Angel Island, such as poor conditions at detention centers and families being torn apart by deportations, “are still happening today 100 years later.”
According to the Angel Island Immigrant Station Foundation, a number of laws were passed in the late 1800s and early 1900s to curtail immigration, especially of Chinese men and women, and the island served as a detention and deportation center along with processing other immigrants.
Many of the people taking Saturday’s trip “have never been there to see it themselves, even the Chinese immigrants,” Lee said. “They know about it, and have a very painful association with it, but have never seen it with themselves, so it’s very meaningful for them to be able to go.”
A ceremony of remembrance was planned at the island, including speeches by Dale Ching, a former Angel Island detainee who is now in his 80s, the Rev. Norman Fong, whose father was also detained on the island, and Yvette Jimenez, a San Mateo resident whose family was split up by an immigration raid in 2008.
The group also planned to place rocks, each inscribed with the names of ancestors who were detained at Angel Island or current immigrants facing family separation, at the memorial on the island for detained immigrants.
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