Summary

The first wave of Chinese immigrants came to Chicagoland in the 1870s, after the transcontinental railway connected the Pacific Coast to Chicago. In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act prevented working-class Chinese from entering the U.S., except men who could prove they were American citizens. For more than 60 years, many Chinese immigrants had acquired documents helping to prove that they were born in America or had a parent who was a citizen. The men who bore these false identities were called "paper sons." A second wave of Chinese immigrants arrived after the repeal of the Act in 1943, seeking economic opportunity and to be reunited with their families.