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Congresswoman McCollum's Statement Expressing Regret for Laws that Adversely Affected the Chinese in the United States

June 18, 2012
Statements For the Record

Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of 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.

In 1882, the U.S. Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act to prohibit people of Chinese descent from immigrating to the U.S. and becoming naturalized citizens. While the Chinese Exclusion Act was finally repealed in 1943, severe restrictions on Chinese immigration continued until the Immigration Act of 1965.

For sixty years of our history, America closed its doors to the Chinese people. During this period, Chinese immigrants already living in the United States were prevented from becoming citizens, regardless of how long they had called this country home.  This official discrimination by the government of the United States against people of Chinese descent was deeply wrong and a fundamental violation of America’s principles of equality and justice.

The pain caused by the Chinese Exclusion Act and other discriminatory policies cannot be undone.  Still, Members of Congress have an obligation to recognize these injustices as a means of apology to all Chinese-Americans.  Today, one hundred and thirty years after passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, Congress is voting to express our regret on behalf of the American people. May this action also strengthen the resolve of this body to protect and defend the civil rights of all peoples, in all times.

I urge all of my colleagues to support this measure.