WASHINGTON— Rep. Judy Chu (D-El Monte) on Friday lauded the unanimous passage of the Senate version of her bill expressing regret for the Chinese Exclusion Act.
S. Res. 201, sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), officially expresses the regret of the U.S. Senate for a number of discriminatory laws against the Chinese in America, including the Chinese Exclusion Act. The resolution was introduced at the same time that Chu introduced her own similar bill in the House last May.
“The unanimous passage of this bill shows that there is strong, bipartisan support for acknowledging the terrible acts perpetrated by the American government against individuals of Chinese descent,” said Chu. “I want to thank Sen. Feinstein for her leadership and relentless work in the Senate in passing this important piece of legislation. I ask my colleagues in the House to follow the Senate’s lead and stand up for the ideals of justice and equality that this nation was founded upon, and help to correct the horrendous injustices committed in the past on behalf of the American people.”
The Chinese Exclusion Laws involved legislation Congress passed between 1870 and 1904 that explicitly discriminated against persons of Chinese descent based on race.
In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which imposed a 10-year moratorium on Chinese immigration and naturalization of Chinese settlers. The law was later expanded several times to apply to all persons of Chinese descent, each time imposing increasingly severe restrictions on immigration and naturalization. This was the first and only federal law in U.S. history that excluded a single group of people from the promise of American freedom just because of their race.
Although the Chinese Exclusion Laws were repealed in 1943 as a war measure after China became a World War II ally of the U.S., Congress has never formally acknowledged that the laws singling out and ostracizing Chinese were incompatible with America’s founding principles.
“It is long overdue that Congress officially acknowledges these ugly laws, and expresses the sincere regret that Chinese Americans deserve,” said Chu. “The last generation of settlers impacted by this legislation are leaving us, giving Congress a short window to make amends to those who were directly affected.”