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Public Statements

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

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I first want to thank the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Chu) for introducing H. Res. 683, expressing the regret of the House of Representatives for the passage of laws that adversely affected the Chinese in the United States, including the Chinese Exclusion Act.

I know, through conversations with several of my colleagues, including the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Berman, that this is an important resolution for them and their constituents.

The resolution concerns laws passed by the House of Representatives that restricted the civil rights of certain individuals in the United States based solely on the ethnicity of those individuals. Specifically, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Congress passed, and Presidents signed, laws that restricted the rights of people of Chinese ethnicity.

For instance, in March 1882, the House of Representatives passed the initial Chinese Exclusion Act that denied Chinese people the right to be naturalized as American citizens. And in April 1892, the House of Representatives passed the Geary Act, which reauthorized the Chinese Exclusion Act for 10 years and denied Chinese immigrants the right to be released on bail upon application for a writ of habeas corpus.

Laws that deny certain civil rights to individuals legally in the United States are inconsistent with the values on which this country was founded. I thank the gentlewoman from California for working with me to refine the text of this resolution.

I reserve the balance of my time.


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