A Journey Through The Golden Gates of Promise

A Journey Though the “Golden Gates” of Promise

Great controversy exists over the true promises of the “Golden Gates” in the United States. Discrimination occurs with different ethnic groups, but for those immigrants permitted into the country, the opportunities are excellent. The laws and practices established to control immigration into the United States limit the amount of poverty that can be present in the country. Without these important practices and laws created by the United States Congress, “cheap” labor would overpower American citizen labor and lead the country to an economic and social catastrophe. Although the United States is often criticized for its establishment of immigration laws and practices during 1865 and 1930, these actions are very fair.
It seems that the people of China have received a lot amount of discrimination as they try to venture into the promise lands of the United States. Early discrimination of the Chinese is revealed when considering early laws and practices of the United States towards immigration. Not only did Congress pass laws and restrictions against Chinese but the attitudes of citizens towards the Chinese often led to uproars and bitterness towards the immigrants arriving from China.
In the 1850’s, the California legislature passed a series of anti-Chinese restrictions. These restrictions forbade Chinese Americans to enroll their children in public schools, to marry whites, or to testify against whites in the court of law. Some particular court cases display the effects of this law. A very upsetting California court case decision in the 1850’s for the Chinese people is called People vs. Hall. In August of 1853, George W. Hall, his brother, and their friend assaulted a Chinese miner in Nevada County. When Ling Sing, the Chinese man’s cousin, came to help him, Hall shot and killed Ling Sing. During the original trial, Hall was found guilty of murder charges and sentenced to death. Hall appealed the decision to the California Supreme Court and he was acquitted because no white witnesses to the murder were available. This reasoning is supported by the California State Civil Practice Act (under Section 394) that says no black, mulatto, or Indian can give testimony against white defendants in criminal cases. The controversy over this case occurs not just because of the obvious discrimination but because Chinese are not specifically referred to in the act and it is assumed that Indians and Asians belong to the same ethnic group. Basically anyone who was not considered white was looked down upon by the American white population. "The word \'white\' has a distinct signification, which ex vi termini, excludes black, yellow, and all other colors," (Beesley 123). Chief Justice Hugh C. Murray, felt that the line had to be drawn, further states, "the same rule that would admit them to testify, would admit them to all the equal rights of citizenship, and we might soon see them at the polls, in the jury box, upon the bench, and in our legislative halls," (Beesley 123). The ruling of the Hall court case led to many violent uproars among white American citizens and Chinese immigrants. Another action taken to try and get rid of the Chinese immigrants was the California Miner’s Tax of 1855. Its sole purpose was to drive Chinese immigrants out of the mining business by taxing foreign miners every month. Many Chinese spoke out about these practices. “When your honorable government threw open the territory of California, the people of other lands were welcomed here to search for gold and to engage in trade. The ship-masters of your respected nation came over to our country, lauded the equality of your laws, extolled the beauty of your manners and customs, and made it known that your officers and people were extremely cordial toward the Chinese.... we trusted in your sincerity....But alas! what times are these!…when former kind rela-tions are forgotten, when we Chinese are viewed like thieves and enemies...” (Pun 589).
These awful laws and practices towards Chinese immigration led to many violent events. In 1871, a mob of whites invaded a Chinese neighborhood in Los Angles and killed 21 residents. A similar event occurred in 1876 that became know as the Truckee Raid. During this incident, whites torched a Chinese home and shot its residents when