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Public Statements

Expressing Regret for Passage of Laws Adversely Affecting the Chinese in the United States

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mrs. BIGGERT. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of House Resolution 683.

This resolution expresses the regret of the House of Representatives for laws that unfairly targeted the Chinese community in the United States, specifically the Chinese Exclusion Act.

I want to thank my good friend from California, Ms. Chu, for her hard work and determination in bringing this important resolution to the floor, and I am proud to join her as the lead cosponsor of this historic effort.

America's strength has always been derived from our commitment to the principles of our founders. And although we do not always succeed in living up to those ideals, we continually strive to do so, and we become stronger in the process.

Today, we have the opportunity to take another important step by recognizing one of the great--yet often overlooked--injustices in our shared history.
One-hundred and thirty years ago, just thirteen years after the last spike was driven into the first transcontinental railroad, the Congress of the United States strayed from the path laid by our founders and implemented the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

This ten-year ban on Chinese immigration and naturalization targeted Chinese immigrants for physical and political exclusion, and its passage was driven by an unfortunate mix of racism, jingoism, and intolerance.
In subsequent years, Congress expanded and hardened these laws, making it impossible for legal Chinese workers to reenter America, apply for citizenship, and reunite with their families. And it wasn't until the U.S.-Chinese alliance of World War Two that Congress finally repealed these laws and restored the rights of Chinese-Americans.

Since that time, this body has passed many reforms. Yet, over 100 years later, this chamber has yet to acknowledge its own misguided actions. Today, we have the opportunity to do just that and reaffirm our shared commitment to equality.

Mr. Speaker, I also would like to thank Linda Yang, the Director of the Xilin [SI-LIN] Asian Community Center in Naperville, Illinois, whose advice and input has helped to drive this resolution to the floor.

It was she who told me about the individuals in our own community whose parents and grandparents were impacted by the Chinese Exclusion Act.
Unfortunately, many of these victims are no longer with us. But for those who remain, it is critical to address this issue now, before the opportunity is lost forever.

With that in mind, I urge all of my colleagues to support this important resolution. Through it, let us acknowledge the past, express our regret, and promote a greater appreciation for the challenges that past generations of Chinese Americans have bravely overcome.


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