Thursday, February 12, 2009
Chinese immigrants did not have many supporters during the 1800s. However, the Chinese banded together and formed groups such as the Ying On Association and the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association. These groups supported Chinese immigrants who faced discrimination and fought for equality. The groups also provided a meeting space for Chinese immigrants to gather and socialize. The CCBA also encouraged Chinese immigrants to lead moral lives. The Chinese were viewed as inferior to Americans, however they stuck together and were able to get by until after 1942 when they were granted citizenship.
Unlike the other immigrant groups, the Chinese were not affected by a reform movement. Chinese immigrants lived separated from other races is Chinatowns. Chinatowns were located in major cities such as New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. The Chinese formed support groups such as the Ying On Association and Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association to assist Chinese who faced discrimination. These groups advocated for citizenship rights for the Chinese. Many of these groups were involved in the criminal underworld of their respective cities.
Chinese immigrants to the United States suffered countless human rights violations. Chinese immigrants were hired to work dangerous jobs for little pay. The average wage for a Chinese laborer was as little as one or two dollars a day. Numerous Chinese laborers died building railroads or mining gold. The Chinese were taken advantage of because they were willing to work for any wage they were offered. The US government unfairly taxed Chinese immigrants and confiscated their lands at whim. Chinese immigrants were not allowed to marry white Americans or Europeans. Chinese were banned from entering the United States when the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed. The act also made the Chinese ineligible for citizenship. The Chinese were not given rights until after 1942.
Immigrants to the United States in the mid to late 1800s were at the bottom of the social ladder. Immigrants faced numerous hardships, all of which were caused by their social class. The needs of immigrants were ignored by the US Government. Immigrants who were accused of committing crimes were not given fair trials. Eventually, Irish immigrants gained political power. However, they used that power to keep other immigrant groups from advancing in society. The US Government would go on to pass laws to prevent immigrants from advancing in society. The ethnic group that suffered the worst at the hands of the US government were the Chinese.
On May 6, 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which banned Chinese immigrants from entering the United States. The act allowed Chinese who were living in the United States before the act was passed could apply for permanent residency and were free to come and go as they pleased. This was the first time in American history when the government banned a specific race from immigrating to the United States. The United States is a country founded by immigrants. To ban a group of people from entering a "free nation" was unconstitutional. The Chinese Exclusion Act was originally meant to last for ten years; however it would not be repealed until 1942.