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Re: US government agency moves Chinese Immigration Files out of state

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Posted by JWC Low on June 30, 1999 at 21:55:24:

In Reply to: US government agency moves Chinese Immigration Files out of state posted by jwc LOW on June 12, 1998 at 01:03:34:

Thank you members of the national Asian community and friends! In April 1999, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) formally announced that its 13 regional offices will remain and not be consolidated as previously proposed. This is a major victory against bureaucratic budget cutting that would not have been possible without vocal support from many individuals, organizations, and members of the academia and the media. Through e-mail, letter writing campaigns, donated web space, and attendance at public meetings, community members secured the support of legislators and elected officials.

Your support is needed to preserve more records of our Asian American history. On April 30th, John Carlin, the Archivist of the United States for NARA met with community representatives in the San Francisco bay area. Represented was Chinese Historical Society of America President, Lorraine Dong; China Connection author, Jeanie Chooey Low; California State Genealogical Alliance, David Abraham; and S.F. Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society, Gordon Fine. California Congressman Tom Lanto's office facilitated the meeting.

The community representatives urged Carlin to take further action by designating Alien Files ("A-Files"), circa 1940-1970 in San Bruno to be included into NARA'S permanent collection and safe from destruction. Many of the "A-Files" contain rare, one-of-a kind photos and interviews pertaining to family history and document the social history of immigrants. Among those "A-Files" are: Chinese American families who were subject to "confession and amnesty" program; Japanese American War Brides and repatriation; Holocaust victims, Filipino veterans, and European other political refugees from World War II through to the Vietnam War. Although "A-Files" are technically owned by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (I.N.S.), NARA is under contract with I.N.S. to store and manage these files, and has the authority to take possession of "A-Files" thirty years or older for its permanent collection. If NARA does not take possession of those older "A-Files" they can be scheduled for disposal.

By the end of 1999, nationwide "A-Files" from the other federal records centers will have been sent to Lee's Summit, Missouri for "consolidation." Only through our community campaign that the San Bruno "A-Files" been allowed to remain while NARA conducts an in-depth study nationwide. Community representatives have urged local congressional representatives to appropriate federal funding to NARA to preserve and enhance public use and access of these invaluable "A-Files."

All members of the educational community, historical societies, and members of the public are urged to write to Archivist John Carlin at 8601 Adelphi Road, Rm. 4100 College Park, MD 20740-6001 with copies to Congressman Tom Lantos at 400 El Camino Real. Suite 820 San Mateo, CA. 94402 and Scott Hastings at 425 I Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20536 to accession the Alien Files for its permanent collection and safe from eventual destruction. Your letters have made a definite impact on public policy and decision-making at NARA. Let your voice be heard once again so that the files of our ancestors will be preserved for our children and accessible to researchers for all time.

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