Enrichment of Ellis and Angel Island

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Ellis Island and Angel Island were two important immigration gateways for the people who left their own country for a better future in the land of hope and dreams- United States of America. These islands though were very different from each other. Ellis Island was generally a quick stopover for people on their onward journey whereas Angel Island was used, to delay and impede the entry of immigrants, a majority of whom were Chinese and South Asians. Angel Island processed immigrants of great racial diversity and treated them differently depending upon their race, class and gender. It challenged America’s notion of an immigrant nation. It reflected the racist views of the time when European visitors, the whites, were welcomed through Ellis Island but the non-whites coming through the Angel Island in the Pacific coast who were seen as criminals and delinquents who had to be deported or detained. The Angel Island station was operational for thirty years from 1910 -1930 within which time it came to be known as a detention facility and sought to exclude the Chinese after the passing of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. The number of people coming in through Ellis Island was far greater than those entering through Angel Island. In the present day both Angel Island and Ellis Island immigration stations have undergone preservation and restoration. Ellis Island is being projected as a symbol of America’s immigration tradition and hospitality which has a strong support group for its restoration. The Ellis Island Immigration Museum opened in 1990 and till today evokes a sense of hope. Angel Island on the other hand does not have a strong support group as many people do not know about it and it stands as a symbol of America’s racist past. After a closure of four years it was opened to public on 15th February 2009 and serves to remind them of the pain and agony undergone by the people who migrated there.