Chicago Tribune -- July 29, 1892Inspection of Returning Chinamen
The Chinese colony in this city has received a knock-out blow in an effect to secure a ruling from Washington, in reference to the last exclusion act. Shortly after the passage of this law in May last, the Chinese proposed that vessels sailing from Canadian ports, with Chinese on board booked for Chicago, should be allowed to take their passengers through to this port where the latters right to enter the United States could be examined. It was a harmless booking proposition on its face, but the Government authorities at this port filed a prompt objection.
The government sustained them, and orders were given that Chinese from Canada should be landed and inspected at the American port nearest to the point of sailing. "We didn't wish to avoid the work of inspection", said an official at the Custom House yesterday, "but we wanted Uncle Sam to have a fair show in the matter.2
The Chinese colony here comprises between 2,500 and 3,000 persons. It has a certain amount of influence created by its trade connections, for the Chinese do a big business here and several Chinamen are wealthy men, even from a Caucasian's standpoint". They have lawyers employed and they have friends in two or three railroad companies and they have connections in other directions. I do not assert that they could bring forward all these people to help identify a Chinaman. There is less danger in that than the brotherhood which exists among themselves and their willingness to help each other.
The law permits Chinese merchants, who have previously lived here to return. Now any Chinaman in the city where he lived can produce scores of his country-men to swear that he was engaged in business as a merchant. Under the Chinese custom every man in any of the large Chinese stores here is a merchant.3
May be he swept the floor and did sink work. Still he was a merchant and can prove it by lots of sworn testimony. In places where the entering Chinaman hasn't resided, where he hasn't a host of intimate friends, manifestly the Government is better protected while the Chinaman's rights are just as well taken care of.
The Exclusion Act, which went into effect in May, contains one provision with which the Treasury Department is apparently still wrestling. It relates to the methods which shall be used to identify Chinamen applying to enjoy the privileges of the Act. The department notified collectors and inspectors some weeks ago that instructions on the point would be issued shortly, but the orders have not yet been received. The extraordinary resemblance which the average Chinaman bears to dozens of other Chinamen always hampered the customs offices in carrying out the provisions of the former anti-Chinese law.4
The photograph of the owner is affixed to the papers carried by a Chinaman. "But it looks like twenty others", said an inspector yesterday. A photograph is by no means a sufficient identification, especially when it is remembered that a keen intelligent race is concerned. The Chinese are determined to enter this country. It is a Herculean task to keep them out.
It is understood that the Bertillon system of identification has been pressed upon the notice of the Treasury Department. The government authorities here for the reasons mentioned expect few Chinese inspection cases. But they are interested in the subject of identification. Yesterday a man who has traveled in the East said: "Why doesn't the government require each Chinaman to make the imprint of his thumb upon his papers on leaving the country? It would be a sure means of identification, because the lines on no two human being's thumbs are alike. It is a method used in the Orient.
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