I created a nonfiction, historical comic in reaction to Ken Cuccinelli’s shameless assertion, “Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.” I illustrate how his reference to the phrase, public charge, is tied into the history of deportations of Asian American immigrants to the US on Angel Island Immigration Station. Angel Island was meant for deportations of people of color, especially Chinese immigrants.
America throws countless bold claims about its identity: Liberty, land of the free, home of the brave, independence, equality for all. But Emma Lazarus’s poem and the beautiful narrative of Ellis Island is not truly American.
Angel Island Immigration Station’s history and its detainment of Asian Americans still has a legacy in Trump and his administration’s rhetoric and policies around immigrants.
About the Artist
Sam Nakahira is a 2019 graduate of Grinnell College and MFA candidate at the Center for Cartoon Studies. Her comics have been published or are forthcoming by the Asian American Writers Workshop, the Rumpus, Popula, and Sukeban Magazine. Since she was a child, she would read books, comics, manga, and graphic novels all day long. Just as her favorite cartoonists and authors have done for her, she aspire to draw stories that transform readers’ worlds, perspectives, and thoughts. She is currently working on a graphic novel around the history of Japanese American farmers and food retailers in California.
Last modified: December 5, 2021