Alien tax receipts and other sundry documentation…


The series of posts I made about Moon Chin and his immigration to the United States this past February inspired a side discussion between me and Donald Chan, one of my high school classmates.

(For those of you who missed that series, here’s a link to the oldest of that sequence. You can pick up the Moon Chin thread by working your way forward from there. He’s a fascinating man.)

Donald is a scion of Chinese immigrants who came to the United States in circumstances similar to Moon Chin and his father, and Donald has a slew of family documents pertaining to their transpacific sailings. Donald was kind enough to scan them and share them with me. Here they are. Particularly fascinating — and disturbing — is the “Alien Tax Receipt.”

U.S. Immigration apparently required $8 U.S. Gold from every Chinese entering the United States — presumably with the intent of discouraging their entrance.

Here are the documents:

Looks to me like Mr. Leu was traveling in “Asian Steerage” the President Line’s lowest class of travel… San Francisco to Hong Kong, 1928

San Francisco to Hong Kong, March, 1928

And here’s Mr. Leu’s “Alien Tax Receipt” from his return to the United States in 1929

1929 Alien Tax Receipt

Note Leu Soon Hay’s status as “domiciled alien,” a term I find particularly offensive… I hope it’s one we’ve outgrown.

Hong Kong to the United States, October 1931 (front)

Hong Kong to the United States, October 1931

And here’s the back of his “Alien Tax Receipt” from that voyage….

“Alien Tax Receipt” back

Next come some crib sheets for a “paper son!” (also from Donald)

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