|Concluding the lesson
1. The population data in the Extension exercise shows that Chinese immigrants
were only a small part of the total U.S. population, so concerns over a large
influx of Chinese immigrants should have been a local or regional concern.
Yet the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed at the national level, creating a
federal immigration policy.
Questions for a class discussion to conclude this lesson might include:
Why would Americans of various classes and political persuasions have supported
Why did the federal government get involved in restricting immigration
What precedent did the U.S. government set by passing the Chinese Exclusion
Should the United States restrict immigration in some way? If so,
what criteria should determine who is allowed in and who is
2. Students could write a 2-3 page essay responding to the following
“Deciding whom to admit, exclude, and why is at the heart of a people’s
claim to form a distinctive and stable national community.”
(From Bill Ong Hing, Making and Remaking Asian America through
Immigration Policy, 1850-1990. Stanford University Press,
1993, p. 19.)
In their essays, students should consider how the issues raised
in this statement are still relevant today. What is the
was it formed?
Should it, and can it, be preserved? Does immigration threaten
national identity, and what are the consequences of losing
or changing national
1. This activity uses population data to consider the following question.
Did the size of the Chinese immigrant community in the United States warrant
such a negative reaction from Americans, not to mention the time and
money spent on passing and enforcing discriminatory legislation?
- Hand out the U.S. Census Data and the questions. Students can work in
groups or individually to answer the questions.
Students need to be
aware that these statistics can be misleading. They do not show that
the Chinese were clustered in particular areas,
a much larger segment of the population in San Francisco than
in Baltimore. Even in areas with large concentrations of Chinese, the
up only a small percentage of the total residents. Discuss with
that are perceived as threatening in our society tend to loom
disproportionately large compared to the facts. Is the same phenomenon
occurring presently with other groups in our society?
2. Have students research United States immigration policy. How has
it changed over time? How have the concepts guiding our immigration
over time? What do students think should guide our immigration policy?