This collection of nine photographs depicts the detention of a group of Indonesian seamen in 1947 as they await the
outcome of deportation proceedings in the federal courts. The images show these roughly 200-300 men at an immigration
detention center in downtown San Francisco, at the Southern Pacific depot in San Francisco, and on ship called the "Marine
Lynx" in the San Francisco Bay.
The Indonesian National Revolution against Dutch colonial rule began on August 17, 1945 when the Proclamation of
Indonesian Independence was broadcast by radio throughout the country. In the following months, Indonesian seamen who
were docked in US ports began leaving Dutch and English ships, which they asserted were carrying weapons that would be
used against their countrymen. The striking seamen were supported by the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) and
a variety of other civil rights and labor activists. When the shipping companies terminated the employment of the
Indonesian seamen they were left without valid visas. The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service detained these
unemployed sailors and in June of 1946 the Justice Department began deportation proceedings against them.
CIO Lawyers Harold Sawyer and Leo Gallagher argued that the Indonesian seamen were entitled to political asylum
and filed a petition of habeas corpus to halt their deportation. As a result of this legal action the Indonesian
seamen were removed from a ship waiting to return them to the Dutch East Indies (as Indonesia was called at the time),
and put on a train to the Justice Department camp in Crystal City, Texas. A federal judge later ruled that the Indonesian
seamen were prohibited by the alien exclusion act from remaining in the country. All of their subsequent appeals were
denied and on January 13, 1947 roughly 300 Indonesian seamen were deported from the United States.
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