Congress Apologies for Anti-Chinese Immigration Laws

Following a similar motion passed by the Senate last year, the U.S. House of Representatives has issued an apology for discriminatory laws which targeted Chinese immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. From The Los Angeles Times:

The rare apology came on a resolution sponsored by Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), the first Chinese American woman elected to Congress.

“This is a proud moment for all Americans who treasure justice and equality,’’ said Carolyn Hong Chan, national president of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance.

Chu, whose grandfather was forced to register and carry a certificate of residence for about 40 years because of the laws, told House colleagues Monday: “It is for my grandfather and for all Chinese Americans who were told for six decades by the U.S. government that the land of the free wasn’t open to them that we must pass this resolution.

“We must finally and formally acknowledge these ugly laws that were incompatible with America’s founding principles,” she added. “By doing so, we will acknowledge that discrimination has no place in our society.”

Xinhua News has more on the legislation at the center of the apology:

The Chinese Exclusion Act, approved in 1882 in Congress and lasted for 60 years, was the first and the only federal law in U.S. history that excluded a single group of people from immigration on no basis other than their race. It explicitly banned Chinese workers from immigration and existing residents from naturalization and voting.

The Act was later expanded several times to apply to all persons of Chinese descent, each time imposing increasingly severe restrictions on immigration and naturalization.

The resolution was applauded by Congressional leaders.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said the resolution “reiterates our commitment to equal rights for all Americans, regardless of race, now and in the future.”

Congressman Mike Honda, chair emeritus of Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said the passage of the resolution is an “opportunity to learn from our mistakes.”