Asian Americans and the Law                                                                                                                                             

South Texas College of Law

Spring 2006

Mark E. Steiner

    This course examines the legal history of Asian Americans in the United States, focusing on such topics as immigration and naturalization and the fight against economic and social discrimination.  By examining this history, we will explore the efforts of dominant groups to use the American legal system as a tool of oppression and those of subordinate groups to use the legal system as an instrument to achieve equality and civil rights. We also will look at the relevance of popular attitudes in the shaping of American law.
          The syllabus is subject to change.


Week of January 23         Course Introduction;  Popular Culture and the Image The Overseas Chinese and the United States of America

                        Class Slides: (HTML)  (PPT 

                        Robert G. Lee, Orientals: Asians Americans in Popular Culture (1999)

                        Supplementary Reading:

John Haddad, The Laundry Man’s Got a Knife!(the image of China and Chinese America in film from 1894 to 1910), 2001 Chinese America: History and Perspectives 31

Midori Takagi, Consuming the “Orient”: Images of Asians in White Women’s Beauty Magazines, 1900-1930, in Sexual Borderlands: Constructing an American Sexual Past 303 (Kathleen Kennedy & Sharon Ullman, eds. 2003)

 Week of January 30         The Importance of “Whiteness” in American Legal History

Class Slides: (HTML)  (PPT 
Naturalization Act of 1790, ch. 3, 1 Stat. 103 (March 26, 1790)  
    In re Ah Yup, 1 F. Cas. 223 (C.C.D. Cal. 1878)
In re Alverto, 198 F. 688 (D.C. Pa. 1922)
                       In re Saito
, 62 F. 126 (C. C. Mass. 1894)

                       Ozawa v. United States, 260 U.S. 178 (1922)

                       United States v. Thind, 261 U.S. 204 (1923)       
Frank Wu, From Black to White and Back Again, 3 Asian L. J. 185 (1996)

                        Supplementary Reading:

                        Ian F. Haney López, The Social Construction of Race, 29 Harv. C.R.-C.L. L. Rev. 1 (1994)

Natsu Taylor Saito, Alien and Non-Alien Alike: Citizenship, “Foreignness,” and Racial Hierarchy in American Law, 76 Or. L. Rev. 261 (1997)

                        Gary R. Hess, The “Hindu” in America: Immigration and Naturalization Policies and India, 1917-1946, 38 Pac. Hist. Rev. 56 (1969)

Leti Volpp, “Obnoxious to Their Very Nature”: Asian Americans and Constitutional Citizenship, 8 Asian L.J. 71 (2001)

Week of February 6       The Chinese in California

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Norman Asing, “To His Excellency Gov. Bigler,” Daily Alta California, May 5, 1852

An Act to Provide for the Protection of Foreigners, and to Define their Liabilities and Privileges, Cal. Stat. (March 30, 1853)

An Act to Discourage the Immigration to This State of Persons Who Cannot Become Citizens Thereof, Cal. Stat. (April 28, 1855)

An Act to Prevent the Further Immigration of Chinese or Mongolians to This State, Cal. Stat. (April 26, 1858)

An Act to Protect Free White Labor against Competition with Chinese Coolie Labor, and to Discourage the Immigration of the Chinese into the State of California, Cal. Stat. (April 26, 1862)

An Act to Prevent the Kidnapping and Importation of Mongolian, Chinese, and Japanese Females, for Criminal or Demoralizing Purposes, Cal. Stat. (March 18, 1870)

An Act to Prevent the Importation of Chinese Criminals and to Prevent the Establishment of Coolie Slavery, Cal. Stat. (March 18, 1870)

                        California Constitution, Article XIX: Chinese (1879)

                        People v. Hall, 4 Cal. 399 (1854)

                        Ex Parte Ah Pong, 19 Cal. 106 (1861) 
Charles J. McClain, California’s First Anti-Chinese Laws, 1995 Chinese America: History and Perspectives 87

                        Supplementary Reading:

Isabella Black, American Labour and Chinese Immigration, Past & Present no. 25, 59 (1963)

                        William Courtney, San Francisco’s Anti-Chinese Ordinances 1850-1900 (University of San Francisco)(1956)

William R. Lockyear, The Celestials and the Angels: A Study of the Anti-Chinese Movement in Los Angeles to 1882, 42 Hist.  Soc’y of Southern California 239 (1960)

J. A. C. Grant, Testimonial Exclusion Because of Race: A Chapter in the History of Intolerance in California, 17 UCLA L. Rev. 192 (1969)

                        Charles J. McClain, The Chinese Struggle for Civil Rights in Nineteenth-Century America, 1850-1870, 72 Cal. L. Rev. 529 (1984)

                        Alexander Saxton, The Army of Canton in the High Sierra, 25 Pac. Hist. Rev. 141 (1966)

Week of February 13     The Chinese in the Courts: The Fight For Civil Rights

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Ho Ah Kow v. Nunan, 12 F. Cas. 252 (C.C.D. Cal. 1879)

                        In re Lee Sing, 43 F. 359 (C.C.N.D. Cal. 1890)

                        Gandalfo v. Hartman, 49 F. 181 (C.C.S.D. Cal. 1892)

                        In re Hong Yen Chang, 84 Cal. 163 (1890)

                        The Stockton Laundry Case (In re Tie Loy), 26 F. 611 (C.C.D. Cal. 1886)

                        Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356 (1886)                        

                        Wong Him v. Callahan, 119 F. 381 (C.C. Cal. 1902)

                        Gong Lum v. Rice, 275 U.S. 78 (1927)


                        Supplementary Reading:


                        Charles J. McClain, In re Lee Sing: The First Residential Segregation Case, 3 Western. Legal Hist. 179 (1990)
                        Caitlin M. Liu, Beyond Black and White: Chinese Americans Challenge San Francisco’s Desegregation Plan, 5 Asian L.J. 341 (1998)

Joyce Kuo, Note, Excluded, Segregated and Forgotten: A Historical View of the Discrimination of Chinese Americans in Public Schools, 5 Asian L. J. 181 (1998)

                        Linda Przybyszewski, Judge Lorenzo Sawyer and the Chinese: Civil Rights Decisions in the Ninth Circuit, 1 W. Legal Hist. 123 (1988)

Jeannie Rhee, In Black and White: Chinese in the Mississippi Delta, 1994 J. Supreme Court Hist. 117

                        John R. Wunder, Law and the Chinese on the Southwest Frontier, 1850s-1902, 2 Western Legal Hist. 139 (1989)

John R. Wunder, The Chinese and the Courts in the Pacific Northwest: Justice Denied?, 52 Pac. Hist. Rev. 191 (1983)

John R. Wunder, The Courts and the Chinese in Frontier Idaho, Idaho Yesterdays 23 (1981)

                        In re Quong Woo, 13 F. 229 (C.C.D. Cal. 1882)

                        Wong Wai v. Williamson, 103 F. 1 (C.C.D. Cal. 1900)

                        Jew Ho v. Williamson, 103 F. 10 (C.C.D. Cal. 1900)
                        Lau v. Nichols, 414 U.S. 563 (1974)


Week of February 20         Anti-Asian Violence

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John Wunder, Anti-Chinese Violence in the American West, 1850-1910, in Law for the Elephant, Law for the Beaver: Essays in the Legal History of the North American West 212 (John McLaren et al., eds. 1992)

Memorial of Chinese Laborers Resident at Rock Springs, Wyoming Territory, to the Chinese Consul at New York (Sept. 18, 1885)

                        John R. Wunder, South Asians, Civil Rights, and the Pacific Northwest: The 1907 Bellingham Anti-Indian Riot and Subsequent
                                     Citizenship and Deportation Struggles, 4 Western Legal Hist. 59 (1991)     

                        Howard De Witt, The Watsonville Anti-Filipino Riot of 1930: A Case Study of the Great Depression and Ethnic Conflict in California, 61

                                     S. Cal. Q. 291 (1979)

                        Supplementary Reading:                        

Julie Courtwright, A Slave to Yellow Peril: The 1886 Chinese Ouster Attempt in Wichita, Kansas, 22 Great Plains Q. 23 (Winter 2002)

Jules Alexander Karlin, The Anti-Chinese Outbreak in Tacoma, 1885, 23 Pac. Hist. Rev. 271 (1954)

                        Him Mark Lai, trans., The 1903 Anti-Chinese Riot in Tonopah, Nevada from a Chinese Perspective, 2003 Chinese America                    

Terri Yuh-lin Chen, Hate Violence as Border Patrol: An Asian American Theory of Hate Violence, 7 Asian L.J. 71 (2000)

                        Sue Fawn Chung, The Anti-Chinese Riot in Tonopah, Nevada, 1903, 2003 Chinese America: History and Perspectives 1

                        Paul Crane & Alfred Lawson, The Chinese Massacre, 12 Annals of Wyoming 47 (Jan. 1940)

Stacy A. Flaherty, Boycott in Butte: Organized Labor and the Chinese Community 1896-1897, 37 Montana 34 (Winter 1987)

James A. Halseth & Bruce A. Glasrud, Anti-Chinese Movements in Washington, 1885-1886: A Reconsideration, in The Northwest Mosaic: Minority Conflicts in Pacific Northwest History 116 (1977)

                        Jules Alexander Karlin, The Anti-Chinese Outbreak in Seattle, 1885-1886, 39 Pacific Northwest Q. 103 (1948)

Clayton D. Laurie, “The Chinese Must Go!”: The United States Army and the Anti-Chinese Riots in Washington Territory, 1885-1886, 81 Pac. Northwest Q. 22 (1990)

Clayton D. Laurie, Civil Disorder and the Military in Rock Springs, Wyoming: The Army’s Role in the 1885 Chinese Massacre, 40 Montana 44 (1990)

Charles J. McLain, Jr., The Chinese Struggle for Civil Rights in 19th-Century America: The Unusual Case of Baldwin v. Franks, 3 Law & Hist. Rev. 349 (1985)

                        Alan Rogers, Chinese and the Campaign to Abolish Capital Punishment in Massachusetts, 1870-1914, 18 J. Am. Ethnic Hist. 37 (1999)

William Wei, The Anti-Chinese Movement in Colorado: Interethnic Competition and Conflict on the Eve of Exclusion, 1995 Chinese America: History and Perspectives 179

                         Roy T. Wortman, Denver’s Anti-Chinese Riot, 1880, 42 Colorado Mag. (Fall 1965)


Week of February 27         The Intersection of Race and Gender

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                        Act of Mar. 3, 1875, ch. 141, 18 Stat. 477 (“Page Law”)

                        Case of the Chinese Wife (In re Ah Moy), 21 F. 785 (C. C. D. Cal. 1884)

                        Chy Lung v. Freeman, 92 U.S. 275 (1875)

                        Low Wah Suey v. Backus, 225 U.S. 460 (1912)

                        United States v. Gue Lim, 176 U.S. 459 (1900)

Sucheng Chan, The Exclusion of Chinese Women, 1870-1943, in Entry Denied: Exclusion and the Chinese Community in America, 1882-1943 (Sucheng Chen, ed. 1991)

                        Roldan v. Los Angeles County, 18 P.2d 706 (1933)


                        Supplementary Reading:
                        Leti Volpp, American Mestizo: Filipinos and Antimiscegenation Laws in California, 33 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 795 (2000)
                        Lee, Orientals: Asian Americans in Popular Culture

David Beesley, From Chinese to Chinese American: Chinese Women and Families in a Sierra Nevada Town, Cal. Hist 168 (1988)

Martha Mabie Gardner, Working on White Womanhood: White Working Women in the San Francisco Anti-Chinese Movement, 1877-1890, 33 J. Social Hist. 73 (1999)

Lucie Cheng, Free, Indentured, Enslaved: Chinese Prostitutes in 19th-Century America, 5 Signs 3 (1979)

George A. Peffer, Forbidden Families: Emigration Experiences of Chinese Women under the Page Law, 1871-1882, 6 J. Am. Ethnic Hist. 28 (1986)

Catherine Lee, Prostitutes and Picture Brides: Chinese and Japanese Immigration, Settlement, and American Nation-Building, 1870-1929 (Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, Feb. 2003)

Huping Ling, Family and Marriage of Late-Nineteenth and Early-Twentieth Century Chinese Immigrant Women, 19 J. Am. Ethnic Hist 43 (2000)

Adam McKeown, Transnational Chinese Families and Chinese Exclusion, 1875-1943, 18 J. Am. Ethnic Hist 73 (1999)

Todd Stevens, Tender Ties: Husbands’ Rights and Racial Exclusion in Chinese Marriage Cases, 1882-1924, 27 Law & Soc. Inquiry 271 (2002)


Week of March 6         Immigration Policy: The Exclusion Act of 1882

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                        Burlingame Treaty, 16 Stat. 739 (July 28, 1868)

                        Naturalization Act of 1870, ch. 254, 16 Stat. 256 (July 14, 1870)

                        Chinese Exclusion Act, ch. 126, 22 Stat. 58 (May 6, 1882) 
Geary Act, ch. 60, 27 Stat. 25 (May 5, 1892)
                        Chae Chan Ping v. United States, 130 U.S. 581 (1889)

                        Fong Yue Ting v. United States, 149 U.S. 698 (1893)


                        Supplementary Reading:

Gabriel J. Chin, Segregation’s Last Stronghold: Race Discrimination and the Constitutional Law of Immigration, 46 UCLA L. Rev. 1 (1998)


Week of March 20       Immigration Policy: From the Exclusion Act to the Immigration Act of 1924

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Three Poems from Songs of Gold Mountain (1911)

Erika Lee, Enforcing the Borders: Chinese Exclusion along the U.S. Border with Canada and Mexico 1882-1924, 89 J. Am. Hist. 54 (2002)

Lucy Salyer, Captives of Law: Judicial Enforcement of the Chinese Exclusion Law, 1891-1905, 76 J. Am. Hist. 91 (1989)

Ellen D. Katz, The Six Companies and the Geary Act: A Case Study in Nineteenth-Century Disobedience and Civil Rights Litigation, 8 Western Legal Hist. 227 (1995)

                        Lee, Orientals: Asian Americans in Popular Culture 106-140

                        Supplementary Reading:

Kristofer Allerfeldt, Race and Restriction: Anti-Asian Immigration Pressures in the Pacific Northwest of America during the Progressive Era, 1885-1924, 88 History 53 (2003)

                        Kitty Calavita, The Paradoxes of Race, Class, Identity, and “Passing”: Enforcing the Chinese Exclusion Acts, 1882-1910, 25 Law & Soc.                                     Inquiry 1 (2000)
                        Christian G. Fritz, A Nineteenth Century “Habeas Corpus Mill”: The Chinese Before the Federal Courts in California, 22 Am. J. Legal                                        Hist. 347 (1988)

                        Rogers Daniel, No Lamps were lit for them: Angel Island and the Historiography of Asian American Immigration, 17 J. Am. Ethnic                                              Hist. 36 (1997)

Sarah Griffith, Border Crossings: Race, Class, and Smuggling in Pacific Coast Chinese Immigrant Society, 35 Western Hist. Q. 1 (2004)

Marlon Kau Hom, Some Cantonese Folksongs on the American Experience, 42 Western Folklore 127 (April 1983)

Adam McKeown, Ritualization of Regulation: Enforcing Chinese Exclusion 1898-1924, 108 Am. Hist. Rev. 377 (2003)


Week of March 27       Alien Land Laws; The Internment of the Japanese During World War II

             Class Slides: (HTML)  (PPT)


                        Terrace v. Thompson, 263 U.S. 197 (1923)

                        Oyama v. California, 332 U.S. 633 (1948)

                        Hirabayashi v. United States, 320 U.S. 81 (1943) 

                        Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214 (1944)
                        Keith Aoki, No Right to Own?: The Early Twentieth-Century “Alien Land Laws” as a Prelude to Internment, 40 B.C. L. Rev. 37 (1998)

                        Lee, Orientals: Asian Americans in Popular Culture 140-144

                        Supplementary Reading: 


The Filipino Exclusion Movement 1927-1935 (Occasional Papers, No. 1, Institute of Asian Studies, University of the Philipines 1967)                         

Robert Higgs, Landless by Law: Japanese Immigrants in California Agriculture to 1941, 38 J. Economic Hist. 205 (1978)

Susan Kiyomi Serrano & Dale Minami, Korematsu v. United States: A “Constant Caution” in a Time of Crisis, 10 Asian L.J. 37 (2003)


Week of April 3       Comparative Perspective: The Chinese in Canada

Class Slides: (HTML)  (PPT)


An Act to Prevent Chinese from Acquiring Crown Lands, B. C. Stat. Ch. 2 (Feb. 18, 1884)

An Act to Prevent the Immigration of Chinese, B. C. Stat. Ch. 3 (Feb. 18, 1884)

An Act to Regulate the Chinese Population of British Columbia, B. C. Stat. Ch. 4 (Feb. 18, 1884)

                        Regina v. Gold, Comm’r of Victoria Dist., 1 B.C.R. (Pt 2) 260 (1886)

                        Tai Sing v. Maguire, 1 B.C.R. (Pt 1) 101 (1878)

                        Regina v. Wing Chong, 1 B.C.R. (Pt 2) 150 (1885)

                        Regina v. Victoria Dist., 1 B.C.R. (Pt 2) 231 (1888)

John A. Munro, British Columbia and the “Chinese Evil”: Canada’s First Anti-Asiatic Immigration Law, 6 J. Canadian Studies 42 (1971)

                        Supplementary Reading:                          

K. Paupst, A Note on Anti-Chinese Sentiment in Toronto Before the First World War, 9 Canadian Ethnic Studies (1977)

Patricia Roy, The Preservation of the Peace in Vancouver: The Aftermath of Anti-Chinese Riot of 1887, BC Studies no. 31 (Autumn 1976)

Week of April 10        Immigration Policy: The Immigration Acts of 1917 and 1924

                         Class Slides: (HTML)  (PPT)

                        Mae M. Ngai,The Architecture of Race in American Immigration Law: A Reexamination of the Immigration Act of 1924, 86 J. Am. Hist.6

                        Erika Lee, The Chinese Exclusion Example: Race, Immigration, and American Gatekeeping, 1882-1924, 22 J. Am. Ethnic Hist.36 (2002)

                        Immigration Act of 1917, 39 Stat. 874 secs. 1, 3 (Feb. 5, 1917)

Immigration Act of 1924, 43 Stat. 153 secs. 4, 5, 6, 11 (May 26, 1924)


Week of April 17       Immigration Policy: From the 1924 Immigration Act to the Immigration Act of 1965

Class Slides: (HTML)  (PPT)


Act to Repeal the Chinese Exclusion Act, ch. 344, 57 Stat. 600 (Dec. 17, 1943)

Xiaohua Ma, A Democracy at War: The American Campaign to Repeal Chinese Exclusion in 1943, 9 Japanese J. Am. Studies 121 (1998)

                        McCarran-Walter Act of 1952, ch. 457, 66 Stat. 163 (June 27, 1952)(pt 1) (pt 2)(pt 3)

                        Immigration Act of 1965, 79 Stat. 911 (Oct. 3, 1965)

Gabriel J. Chin, The Civil Rights Revolution Comes to Immigration Law: The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, 75 N.C. L. Rev. 273 (1996)

                        Lee, Orientals: Asian Americans in Popular Culture 145-179

                        Supplementary Reading:

Mae M. Ngai, The Strange Career of the Illegal Alien: Immigration Restriction and Deportation Policy in the United States, 1921-1965, 21 Law & Hist. Rev. 69 (2003)


Week of April 24       Contemporary Legal Issues: Affirmative Action

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Selena Dong, Note, Too Many Asians: The Challenge of Fighting Discrimination Against Asian Americans and Preserving Affirmative Action, 47 Stanford L. Rev. 1027 (1995)

                        Frank H. Wu, Neither Black Nor White: Asian Americans and Affirmative Action, 15 B.C. Third-World L. J. 225 (1995)

Week of May 1       Contemporary Legal Issues: Language Rights; The Case of Wen Ho Lee

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Neil Gotunda, Comparative Racialization: Racial Profiling and the Case of Wen Ho Lee, 47 UCLA L. Rev. 1689 (2000)

Asian American Business Group v. City of Pomona, 716 F. Supp. 1328 (C.D. Cal. 1989)

                        Supplementary Reading: 

Lee, Orientals: Asian Americans in Popular Culture  180-231

Jerry Kang, Note, Racial Violence Against Asian Americans, 106 Harv. L. Rev. 1926 (1993)

Julie A. Su, Making the Invisible Visible: The Garment Industry’s Dirty Laundry, 1 J. Gender, Race & Justice 405 (1998)

William R. Tamayo, When the “Coloreds” Are Neither Black Nor Citizens: The United States Civil Rights Movement and Global Migration, 2 Asian L. J. 1 (1995)

Rhoda J. Yen, Racial Stereotyping of Asians and Asian Americans and its Effect on Criminal Justice, 7 Asian L.J. 1 (2000)

                        Min Zhou, ‘Parachute Kids’ in Southern California, 12 Educ. Policy 982 (1998)