It
was the first significant law restricting immigration into the United States.
In the spring of 1882 the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed. In this essay I
will talk about the conflict and compromise of the Chinese Exclusion Act.

 First, the conflict of the Chinese Exclusion Act
started in 1875 when the Page Act was passed. When congress passed this Act, it
was directed toward Chinese and Asians. This started much conflict in 1875. Between
1870-1880 there were racial stereotypes and anti-Chinese violence. However, when
president Chester A. Arthur signed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, the act banned
Chinese labors from immigration for 10 years, but was not supposed to affect
merchants, deployments, students, teachers, or labors, yet it did. When it did,
that started much conflict for people who were even in favor of that act. This
caused the conflict to turn violent. It didn’t get better from there, because
in 1886 Yick Wo’s legal victory established that under the 14th
Amendment to the Constitution, laws could not be enforced in a prejudice
manner. After requiring that all businesses obtain licenses, San Francisco
refused to issue them to Chinese proprietors and arrested those who stayed in
business. When people got arrested for staying in business the conflict started.
People got mad and began to boycott against the sheriff and joined with people to
sue the sheriff. In 1888 when the Scott Act was passed, it was Chae Chan Ping
v. United States. Chae Chan Ping challenged a revision to the Exclusion Act
that barred all Chinese laborers, regardless of prior residence. Chae had
attended his father’s funeral in China, returning a week after Congress passed
a new law. Denied reentry, Chae sued and lost. The law stranded nearly 20,000
Chinese Americans who were abroad at the time, separating many from property
and family in the US. In 1892 president Harrison signed the Geary Act that
extended Exclusion for another 10 years. It also required all Chinese in the US
to register with the government, carry photo ID cards, and provide white
witnesses to prove their authenticity. Risking jail time with hard labor, the vast
majority of Chinese refused to comply, instead contributing money to legal
defense funds. In 1898 Wong Kim Ark was denied reentry to the US after visiting
his parents in China, even though he was born in California and therefore a
citizen according to the 14th Amendment. Everyone in his favor
begged for his reentry into the US, but Wong’s lawsuit went to the US Supreme
Court. His landmark victory secured this constitutional protection for all
people born on US land. In 1900-1901 widespread anger in China against foreign violations
and worsening conditions led to the Boxer Rebellion. The Boxers, a secret
society, attracted a lot support for their effort to force all Westerners out
of China. Anger over the insulting policy of Chinese Exclusion partly fueled
attacks on Americans. Two thousand US soldiers joined the 20,000 strong consisting
of western and Japanese troops sent to put down the uprising conflict. The
American council in China sent home this Boxer- produced battle image. In
1901-1903 students Fei Chi Hao and H. H. Kung, who helped save American
missionaries during the Boxer Rebellion, were trapped in immigration limbo and
partial detention for 16 months while enroute to Oberlin College, despite having
many supporters. Kung later became an important figure in Chiang Kai-shek’s
government. In 1903, one busy Sunday morning in Boston’s Chinatown, the police
arrested anyone that looked Chinese in order to check their papers. Some hours
later they released some individuals, but detained other individuals for days.
The random arrest sent shock waves through Chinese American communities around
the country. Between 1875 and 1903 there was a lot of conflict between other
acts, rebellions, and raids. The first significant Chinese immigration to North
America began with the California Gold Rush of 1848–1855, and it continued with
later large labor projects, such as the building of the First Transcontinental
Railroad. During the early stages of the gold rush, when surface gold was
plentiful, the Chinese were tolerated, if not well received. As gold became
harder to find and competition increased, tension toward the Chinese and other
foreigners increased however. After being driven from mining by a mixture of
state legislators and other miners. The immigrant Chinese began to settle in
cities, mainly San Francisco, and took up low-wage labor, such as restaurant
and laundry work. With the economy in decline, by the 1870’s, anti-Chinese
animosity became politicized by labor leader Denis Kearney and his Workingman’s
Party as well as by California Governor John Bigler, both of whom blamed
Chinese “coolies” for depressed wage levels. Public opinion and law
in California began to demise Chinese workers and immigrants in any role, with
the later half of the 1800’s seeing a series of ever more restrictive laws
being placed on Chinese labor, behavior and even living conditions. While many
of these legislative efforts were quickly overturned by the State Supreme
Court, many more anti-Chinese laws continued to be passed in both California
and nationally. In the early 1850’s there was resistance to the idea of
excluding Chinese migrant workers from immigration because they provided essential
tax revenue which helped fill the fiscal gap of California. But toward the end
of the decade, the financial situation improved and subsequently, attempts to
legislate Chinese exclusion became successful on the state level. In 1858, the
California Legislature passed a law that made it illegal for any person
“of the Chinese or Mongolian races” to enter the state; however, this
law was struck down by an unpublished opinion of the State Supreme Court in
1862. The Chinese immigrant workers provided cheap labor and did not use any of
the government infrastructure (schools, hospitals, etc.) because the Chinese
migrant population was predominantly made up of healthy male adults. As time
passed and more Chinese migrants arrived in California, violence would often
break out in cities such as Los Angeles. At one point, Chinese men represented
nearly a quarter of all wage-earning workers in California, and by 1878
Congress felt compelled to try and ban immigration from China in legislation
that was later vetoed by President Rutherford B. Hayes. In 1879 however,
California adopted a new Constitution, which authorized the state government to
determine which individuals were allowed to reside in the state, and banned the
Chinese from employment by corporations and state, county or municipal
governments. Though there is great debate over whether the anti-Chinese temperament
in California drove the federal government or whether Chinese racism was simply
inherent in the country at that point, by 1882 the federal government was
finally convinced to pass the Chinese Exclusion Act, banning all immigration
from China for a period of 10 years. After the act was passed, most Chinese
families were faced with a dilemma: stay in the United States alone or go back
to China to reunite with their families. Although widespread dislike for the
Chinese persisted well after the law itself was passed, of note is that some
capitalists and entrepreneurs resisted their exclusion because they accepted
lower wages.

The
compromise of the Chinese Exclusion act started at the repeal or agreement to
take away that law. More controversial than repeal was the proposal to go one
step further and place the Chinese on a quota basis for future entry to the
United States. In light of the overall immigration to the United States, at
first glance the new quota seemed insignificant. Yet, those concerned about an
onslaught of Chinese (or Asian) immigration and its potential impact on
American society and racial composition, believed that even this small quota represented
an opening wedge through which potentially thousands of Chinese could enter the
United States. Because migration within the Western Hemisphere was not
regulated by the quota system, it seemed possible that Chinese residents in
Central and South America would re-migrate to the United States. Moreover, if
the Chinese of Hong Kong were to apply under the vast, largely unused British
quota, thousands could enter each year on top of the number of available
Chinese visas. Fears about the economic, social, and racial effect of a
“floodtide” of Chinese immigrants led to a compromise bill and fears that
mirrored the arguments that had led to Chinese Exclusion in the first place
about sixty years ago. Under this bill, there would be a quota on Chinese immigration,
but, unlike European quotas based on country of citizenship, the Chinese quota
would be based on ethnicity. Chinese immigrating to the United States from
anywhere in the world would be counted against the Chinese quota, even if they
had never been to China or had never held Chinese nationality. Creating this
special, ethnic quota for the Chinese was a way for the United States to combat
Japanese propaganda by proclaiming that Chinese were welcome, but at the same
time, to ensure that only a limited number of Chinese actually entered the
country. President Franklin D. Roosevelt supported the compromise measure,
connecting the importance of the measure to American wartime goals. In a letter
to Congress, Roosevelt wrote that passing the bill was vital to correcting the
“historic mistake” of Chinese exclusion, and he emphasized that the legislation
was “important in the cause of winning the war and of establishing a secure
peace.” The repeal of Chinese exclusion paved the way for measures in 1946 to
admit Filipino and Asian-Indian immigrants. The exclusion of both of these
groups had long damaged U.S. relations with the Philippines and India.
Eventually, Asian exclusion ended with the 1952 Immigration Act, although that
Act followed the pattern of the Chinese quota and assigned racial, not
national, quotas to all Asian immigrants. This system did not end until
Congress did away with the National Origins quota system altogether in the
Immigration Act of 1965.

In
conclusion, the Chinese Exclusion Act was the first act restricting immigration
into the United States. The conflict started with people who were not in favor of
the act. Between 1875 and 1903 was the most conflict of the time. The
compromise was the act of agreement. In other words, the repeal the Exclusion
Act.