From the Office of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi Announces Angel Island Bill Passes House Committee

September 16, 2004

San Francisco - House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi announced today that the House Resources Committee has approved legislation to restore the historic Angel Island Immigration Station in San Francisco Bay, also known as the "Ellis Island of the West."

In May, Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (D-Petaluma) and Congresswoman Pelosi introduced the Angel Island Immigration Station Restoration and Preservation Act (H.R. 4469). The bill would allow the use of up to $15 million in federal funds, in addition to state and local funds, to preserve several historic buildings. The Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation, the State of California, and many dedicated individuals have been working to save these buildings from decay, but additional funds are needed. The bill's 45 cosponsors include Members from across the country, demonstrating the national importance of this site.

"The stories of immigrants are woven throughout the history of our nation," Pelosi said. "For many immigrants, release from the Angel Island Immigration Station meant that they had taken a significant step toward a new life in the United States. The Resources Committee posed a serious legislative hurdle for this legislation to restore the Station, and I am pleased that the Resources Committee passed the bill. I commend Congresswoman Woolsey for her leadership."

Immigrants from countries around the Pacific Rim passed through the Angel Island facility between 1910 and 1940. Many Chinese immigrants, whose entry into the U.S. was severely restricted by the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, were held in detention at Angel Island for months and sometimes years. While many found a better life for themselves and their families, others encountered discrimination and disappointment. As they waited to learn whether they would be allowed enter the United States or be sent back to China, they turned their hopes, fears, and despair into poetry carved in the walls of their barracks. Many Bay Area residents are the descendents of immigrants who passed through Angel Island. For example, San Francisco resident Albert Wong, who traveled alone from Hong Kong to San Francisco in 1934 at the age of 12, was held on Angel Island for five weeks before he was released to join his father.

"Angel Island speaks to us across the years, telling the stories of immigrants from around the world," Pelosi said. "We are a nation of immigrants, and we must treasure that history while remembering that every individual must be treated with dignity and respect."

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