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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

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Mr. BERMAN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H. Res. 683, which expresses regret for a series of discriminatory laws passed between 1879 and 1904 that targeted individuals of Chinese descent in the United States, and yield myself as much time as I may consume.

I'd like to begin by thanking the gentlelady from California, Ms. CHU, for her leadership on this bipartisan resolution. To my friend, the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Mr. SMITH, thank you for your work on this resolution and for bringing it to the floor so quickly.

Beginning in 1879, Congress passed a series of discriminatory measures against the Chinese that restricted immigration and violated the civil rights of the Chinese living in the U.S.

At the height of Chinese immigration to the U.S. in the 19th and 20th centuries, many Chinese--like immigrants from other parts of the world--were searching for the opportunity to create a better life, driven by their hope that America could be their new promised land.

With the enactment of multiple Chinese Exclusion Acts, immigrants from China were denied the right to be naturalized as American citizens.

Six decades of anti-Chinese legislation resulted in the persecution and political alienation of persons of Chinese descent and legitimized racial discrimination, excluding them both from the democratic process and the American promise of freedom.

Chinese-Americans have since achieved prominence in all walks of American life. Though we may not be able to reverse the past, we can take action now.

By acknowledging and expressing regret for this bleak period in our history, we reaffirm our core principles of equality and justice upon which our country was founded.

Mr. Speaker, H. Res. 683 is an important demonstration of our bipartisan commitment to recognize the continued contributions of the Chinese-American community in the United States, and I urge my colleagues to support it.

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