U.S. Congress introduces resolutions to express regret for Chinese Exclusion Laws

08:38, May 27, 2011      

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Members of the U.S. Congress on Thursday introduced bipartisan resolutions in both chambers calling on the federal legislature to formally acknowledge and express regret for banning Chinese immigration and other violated rights of the Chinese settlers in the turn of the 20th century.

The resolution in the House was introduced by Rep. Judy Chu and Rep. Judy Biggert, co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Coffman. It calls on Congress to formally acknowledge and express regret for the passage of several laws between 1882 and 1904 that "violated the fundamental civil rights of Chinese-American settlers."

In the Senate, a similar resolution was introduced by Senators Dianne Feinstein and Scott Brown.

"A century ago, the Chinese came here in search of a better life. But they faced harsh conditions, particularly in the halls of Congress. Congress passed numerous discriminatory exclusion laws that barred the Chinese from accessing basic rights given to other immigrants. These laws engendered hatred, bigotry and prejudice in the minds of Americans towards Chinese," said Chu, the lead House co-sponsor as well as the first Chinese American Congresswoman.

"It is long overdue that Congress officially acknowledges these ugly laws, and expresses the sincere regret that Chinese Americans deserve. 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," Chu said at a press conference announcing the measure.

"The enactment of Chinese exclusionary laws is a shameful part of our history that must not be forgotten. I hope this resolution will serve to inform those who may not be aware of this regrettable chapter in our history, and bring closure to the families of immigrants who lived through this difficult time," said Senator Feinstein in a press release.

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. Although the Chinese Exclusion Laws were repealed in 1943 as a war measure after China became a World War II ally of the United States, Congress has never formally acknowledged that the laws singling out and ostracizing Chinese were incompatible with America's founding principles.

Chu and her co-sponsors hoped to put this bill to a vote this year, and they urged the Chinese Americans to support the bill in asking their representatives in the Congress to support it.

Source: Xinhua
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