Sunday marks the 130th anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Act being signed into law. With the stroke of his pen, President Chester A. Arthur banned all immigration and naturalization into the United States for anyone born in China. Congresswoman Chu has led the fight for an official statement of regret from the U.S. Congress. While her resolution has bipartisan support and an accompanying bill has already passed the Senate unanimously, the House has yet to act. Rep. Chu released the following statement to mark today's anniversary and to once again call for action:
"It has been 130 years, yet we still have not taken responsibility for passing the Chinese Exclusion Act. The result was one of the darkest hours in our nation's history, where discrimination was codified into law and families were torn apart as a direct result of a sorely misguided policy. It's long overdue that Congress officially acknowledges these past wrongs and expresses the sincere regret that Chinese Americans deserve. The last generation of settlers impacted by this legislation is leaving us, giving lawmakers precious little time to make amends with those who were harmed directly."
BACKGROUND: In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which imposed a ten-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 our 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 Although the Chinese Exclusion Laws were repealed in 1943 as a war measure after China became a World War II ally of the United States, Congress has never formally acknowledged that the laws singling out and ostracizing Chinese were incompatible with America's founding principles.