Supervisor proposes resolution to maintain ferry service to Angel Island as operator seeks to end it


With the Blue & Gold Fleet possibly ending its ferry service from San Francisco to Angel Island, Supervisor Gordon Mar on May 4 called for a resolution supporting continued service to the island to honor the estimated one million immigrants who were once detained there.

Blue & Gold Fleet announced in December that it was seeking to end the service due to declining ticket sales, filing a request to discontinue with the California Public Utilities Commission.

Between 1910 and 1940, the island was used as a station to enforce the country’s Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and other immigration policies, with Asian immigrants being detained and interrogated there. More than 200 Chinese poems carved into the station’s wall by detainees remain as evidence of the era.

The station was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1997.

“When my father and my grandmother came to this country, like thousands of other immigrants from China and elsewhere, they were detained at the Immigration Station on Angel Island. As we recognize Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we have to recognize this history,” Mar said during the May 4 San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting.

“Angel Island remains a vital part of our city, our state, and our nation’s history of immigration, and racist and exclusionary treatment of immigrants. To build a more just future, we have to contend with the injustices of our past. We have to preserve these places, their memories, and their lessons,” he said.

Mar’s resolution calls for the CPUC, the California Department of Parks and Recreation and the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway, and Transportation Board of Directors to identify solutions to continue ferry service.

“Our access to a place where hundreds of thousands of immigrants were detained, our ability to walk the halls and rooms, to see the hundreds of Chinese poems carved into the walls by detainees, to see and hear and feel their stories — that access to our history is essential, and it is in jeopardy,” Mar said.

The nonprofit Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation is set to open the Angel Island Immigration Museum later this year.

“The former Immigration Station at Angel Island reminds us of an important chapter in San Francisco, California, and U.S. history. Especially during a time when we have witnessed increased anti-Asian attacks, it is even more important to connect with and learn from our nation’s history of racism and xenophobia towards Asians and Pacific Islanders,” said Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation Executive Director Edward Tepporn.

The only other operator that takes visitors to Angel Island from San Francisco is Alcatraz Cruises, offering an Alcatraz Island/Angel Island combination tour. Without ferry service from San Francisco to Angel Island, the only way to get there would be the family-owned Angel Island-Tiburon Ferry in Marin County.

According to Mar’s office, supervisors could vote on the resolution as early as May 11.

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