For our second trips to the archives I feel that I was able to be more productive than I was the first time we visited, given that this time I knew what I was looking for and how to look for it. Plus, we narrowed our research topic from the internal operations of Angel Island to habeas corpus cases at Angel Island. I read exclusively case files on immigrants, seven different ones, but interestingly, they were all very similar cases. Almost all the cases that I read were Chinese children or teens trying to gain entry to the United States by means of a parent who was already living in the United States through merchant status or through a parent who was a native born citizen of the United States. Every single one of these cases I read were deported or excluded, typically because the immigration officials could not prove the relationship between the alleged family member in the US and the child trying to gain entry.
One case that I thought was specifically interesting was the first case I looked at which was the file for Ow Duck and Ow You Sin, file 55,245-138. This case involved two individuals in their teens, trying to gain entry through their mother who was a native-born US citizen. What was particularly interesting about this case was the continuous mention of a case regarding immigrant Low Joe, an immigration case I coincidentally read the last time I was at the archives, file 55,188-107. The Low Joe case was a similar situation to the Ow’s case, in that Low tried to gain entry to the United States through a family member already residing there. His case was unique in that it reopened for an appeal because of additional affidavits. The Low Joe case was used in the appeal of Ow Duck and Ow You Sin’s case in requesting the submission of additional affidavits. Even with the additional affidavits in the case of Low Joe, he was also deported. Ow Duck and Ow You Sin were not allowed additional affidavits therefore their case was not reopened and because the relationship could not be proven between the children and their mother, they were deported. It was stated that their relationship could not be proven because of discrepancies in various interrogations of their alleged mother, Chan Ying, causing officials to question her character.
The interrogations were very interesting to read, and it is hard to comprehend that they were used as a source for proving the relation of one person to another. These questions included the name of the village, the size in terms of houses, how many rows of houses were in the village, if there was a school and if they had very been to the school, if they had interacted with certain people, if they knew about said person’s family and village and whereabouts. Every case I read contained questions that seemed extremely too detailed to remember and easy to mix up.
I think it will be interesting to compare cases with my groupmates to see if they read cases that were any different. I know I only read seven files, but all of them were very similar which makes me wonder what other kind of situations immigrants found themselves in when trying to gain entry to the United States.