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The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Presentations and Activities > Immigration
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Immigration Chinese
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Legislative Harassment

While Chinese immigrants in the U.S. had to deal with the threat of armed attackers, they also were harassed by punitive laws and regulations, many targeted solely at them. The Foreign Miners License tax law required all non-native born workers to pay the exorbitant rate of twenty dollars per month for the right to mine. The Sidewalk Ordinance of 1870 banned the Chinese method of carrying vegetables and carrying laundry on a pole, while in San Francisco, the Queue Ordinance of 1873 outlawed the wearing of long braids by men, a Chinese custom. Chinese immigrants were prohibited from working for federal, state, and local governments, and from educating their children in public schools. For several decades, a law was in place that prevented Chinese immigrants from testifying in court against Americans of European descent--effectively placing thousands of immigrants outside the protection of the law.

In the economic depression of the 1870s, hostile attitudes toward Chinese immigrants only became worse. Although most immigrants to the U.S. during this period were not Chinese, Chinese immigrants were often singled out as the cause of the nation's high employment rate and low wages. In one 1878 pamphlet, a labor organization warned against the damaging effects of Chinese businesses.

"MEN FROM CHINA come here to do LAUNDRY WORK. The China Empire contains 600,00,000 (six hundred millions) inhabitants.

The supply of these men is inexhaustible.

Every one doing this work takes BREAD from the mouths of OUR WOMEN.

So many have come of late, that to keep at work, they are obliged to cut prices."



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