Illegal immigrants have used various Channel Islands as an entry port into the United States since the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. The Chinese Exclusion Act was a United States federal law signed by President Chester A. Arthur on May 6, 1882. It was one of the most significant restrictions on free immigration in US history, prohibiting all immigration of Chinese laborers. The act followed the Angell Treaty of 1880, a set of revisions to the US-China Burlingame Treaty of 1868 that allowed the US to suspend Chinese immigration. The act was initially intended to last for 10 years, but was renewed in 1892 and made permanent in 1902.
In the 20th century, the Channel Islands were used, and continue to be used, as points for smuggling illegal immigrants from Mexico.
In the News~
July 12, 2011 [LAT]: “Illegal immigrants rescued off Santa Barbara coast. Stranded off the Santa Barbara coast, the illegal immigrants decided that being rescued was more important than reaching their destination undetected. So one used a cellphone to call 911 on Friday. Boats carrying officials from the U.S. Coast Guard and National Park Service set off to find them amid the rugged beauty of the eight Channel Islands. Two days later, authorities landed on Santa Cruz Island, where 15 famished, but otherwise healthy, Mexican immigrants awaited. "They were stranded and couldn't get to the mainland," Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Adam Eggers said Monday.”
July 12, 2011 [Visalia Times]: “15 Immigrants stranded. Los Angeles.—Fifteen suspected illegal immigrants who were stranded on a remote Southern California island for three days were being held Monday after what may have been a 300-mile journey in a rickety boat — the latest evidence that Mexican smugglers are heading farther north to avoid capture. Fourteen men and a woman in their 30s and 40s were rescued from the north side of Santa Cruz Island on Sunday — days after a man called 911 to say he and three other men had been dropped off on an island and were stranded, authorities said. "It was a unique situation," U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Adam Eggers said. "We normally don't get a phone call from suspected migrants." The connection was then lost but prompted an air, sea and land search of the Channel Islands, a sparsely populated archipelago that stretches northwest of Los Angeles County. No one was found and the Coast Guard issued an alert to private boaters, urging them to contact authorities if anyone from an island asked for assistance. On Sunday, a boat reported that some people had flagged them down to seek help on Santa Cruz Island, about 20 miles off the coast of Ventura. A total of 15 people eventually were picked up from the north side of the island, said Vyonne Menard, National Park Service spokeswoman. "Everyone was in pretty good shape once they got some food and water into them," Eggers said. They were handed over to federal immigration agents. No boat was found. One of the 15 was from Guatemala and the others were from Mexico, said Virginia Kice, spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. Two were treated at a hospital for minor ankle and wrist injuries, while others had bumps, scrapes and bruises, she said. The immigrants were being interviewed to determine details of their journey and whether some of them actually might be the smugglers, who would face federal charges, Kice said.”