Walling Off Chinese Immigrants

       Building walls to prevent immigrants entering the United States illegally is a hot topic under the Trump administration, but this approach is not a new idea.  In 1870, the concept was considered, but never implemented, as a way to prevent hordes of Chinese immigrants coming into the country. 

     The current talk of border walls today focuses on our southern border with Mexico, and is directed primarily against illegal entries of Mexicans and Central Americans. However, there is now growing concern that Chinese are also being smuggled across the southern border just as they were over a century ago.

        In addition during the late 1800s, there was concern about Chinese entering the U. S. across our northern border from various points across Canada which was receiving less scrutiny. 

        This 19th century fear of Chinese entering from Canada has largely vanished now and Chinese Canadians probably prefer staying on their side of the border.

         But how effective can physical walls be to prevent those "wily" Chinese from illegal entry? As suggested in the cartoons from Puck at the end of the 19th century, Chinese are like chameleons, able to change their appearance easily and pose as Spaniards, anarchist, Irishmen, Sicilian, English wife-hunter, or  yacht racer." Whereas these disguises are rather unlikely, many Chinese crossed the southern border disguised as Mexicans, back in the day when Mexicans, but not Chinese, were allowed to cross the border freely.

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