The 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act prohibited most Chinese people from coming to America, and only a couple of hundred Chinese women a year entered the country before the early 1940s.
Even women who were legally entitled to an entry permit had a difficult time.
Beginning in 1910 they were almost automatically detained at Angel Island Immigration Station in the middle of San Francisco Bay. There they were immediately embarrassed by having to take off their clothes to be examined by a male doctor.
They then were held in prisonlike facilities until they could be questioned about their backgrounds.
Even if their papers were all in order, they might fail the immigration exam. As one woman with proper papers later commented, her husband believed “all I needed to do was to tell the truth, (but) I told the truth and still got into trouble.”