Chinese immigrants first arrived in El Paso shortly before the Southern Union Pacific Railroad completed its line here in 1881.
The Earliest Immigrants opened a Rooming House and a grocery store. Soon afterwards, the U.S. Government passed the "Chinese Exclusion Act (1882), which restricted Chinese immigration.
However, enough Chinese immigrants remained to create a vibrant community throughout El Paso into the early 1920's.
At one time Downtown El Paso's Chinese Community was the largest in the state of Texas.
Chinese contributed to the area's economy largely by growing and selling fruits and vegetables for the local market and by opening businesses, including laundries and restaurants frequented by male sojourners.
Expatriates sent earnings to families in China, with the intention of returning to China someday.
Others stayed and married and raised families both in El Paso and Juarez.
The El Paso Chinese Community retained their native culture through language (most spoke in Taishanese dialect) food, community associations, and traditions.
During the 20th Century, Chinese continued to migrate to El Paso. During the Mexican Revolution, General John "Black Jack" Pershing brought hundreds of Chinese into the the United States from Mexico for their protection from racial violence. They were allowed to immigrate following General Pershing's
Petitioning of Congress.
The Chinese continued to migrate to El Paso during the "Great Depression" of the 1930's, prompted by the Communist take over of China.
Today, the Chinese El Pasoans continue to maintain a sense of community in the city they helped build.