Sunday, 19 June 2011

The Yellow Viper (3)


The Cubic Air Ordinance

Faced with a dwindling economy and loss of job opportunities which were blamed on Chinese immigrant labour, organized white labour groups agitated the San Fransisco's local government to enact a law known as the Cubic Air Ordinance to "persuade" the Chinese immigrants to return to their country. The law required 500 cubic feet of space for every person residing in a lodging. Ostensibly, this law was the result of a submission by a health officer who reported that "they [the Chinese immigrants] live crowded together in rickety, filthy, and dilapidated tenement houses, like so many cattle or hogs”. The Chinese immigrants who lived in cramped, crowded tenements to save money became the target of incarceration in even more crowded county jails. Thousands were arrested and thrown into jail.

The Cubic Air Law would eventually lead to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 restricting Chinese immigrant labour into the US for 10 years.

Out of the frying pan into the fire

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