Pelosi Statement on Introduction of Legislation to Restore Angel Island Immigration Station
May 26, 2004
Washington, D.C.-House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) yesterday to announce the introduction of H.R. 4469, legislation to allow the use of federal funds to restore the Immigration Station. Below are Pelosi's remarks:
"The stories of immigrants are woven throughout the history of our nation. The Angel Island Immigration Station, which received immigrants between 1910 and 1940, speaks to us across the years, telling us the stories of immigrants from around the world. Many found a better life for themselves and their families. Others encountered discrimination and disappointment.
"Among the most poignant are the stories of Chinese immigrants. Beginning with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, very few Chinese were allowed to enter the United States. Many who came seeking their fortune on 'Gold Mountain,' the fabled land of unlimited wealth, were held in detention at Angel Island. As they waited to learn whether they would enter the United States, or be sent back to China, they turned their hopes, fears, and despair into poetry carved in the walls of the barracks where they were held.
"Angel Island keeps these stories alive, and that is why I am proud to be an original cosponsor of H.R. 4469, legislation to allow the use of federal funds to restore the Immigration Station.
"After the Immigration Station closed in 1940, the U.S. Army used the site for a few years, and then it was abandoned. It became part of Angel Island State Park in 1963. Shortly before the barracks were scheduled to be demolished in 1970, a park ranger rediscovered the poetry on the walls. Although fortunately not torn down, the Station's wooden buildings have suffered from years of deterioration.
"The Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation, the State of California, and many dedicated individuals have been working to stabilize the buildings and raise funds for their restoration. Plans for the site include use of the Immigration Station hospital as a center for education and genealogy research. H.R. 4469, introduced under the leadership of Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, will authorize the use of additional federal funds to ensure that the Station, which is a historic site of national significance, can be preserved for future generations.
"We are a nation of immigrants, and it is important for us remember where we came from. Many San Francisco and Bay Area residents are the descendents of immigrants who passed through Angel Island. Immigrants continue to arrive in our country, and it is essential for us to be reminded that each individual should be treated with dignity and respect."