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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Feinstein Resolution Expresses Regret for Discriminatory Laws Against Chinese Immigrants

Despite hardships, Chinese Americans ‘continue to make invaluable contributions to our country’

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today introduced a Senate resolution expressing Congressional regret for the passage of discriminatory laws against Chinese immigrants in the 19th Century.  Senator Scott Brown (R-Mass.) cosponsored the resolution with Senator Feinstein.

In introducing the resolution, Senator Feinstein said, “The enactment of Chinese exclusionary laws is a shameful part of our history that must not be forgotten.  I hope this resolution will serve to enlighten those who may not be aware of this regrettable chapter in our history, and bring closure to the families whose loved ones lived through this difficult time.”

The Chinese Exclusion Laws involved legislation Congress passed between 1870 and 1904 that explicitly discriminated against persons of Chinese descent based on race.  In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which imposed a 10-year moratorium on Chinese immigration and naturalization of Chinese settlers. The law was later expanded several times to apply to all persons of Chinese descent, each time imposing increasingly severe restrictions on immigration and naturalization.

In Congressional Record remarks, Senator Feinstein described the experiences of Chinese immigrants who came to America by way of Angel Island in California.  In 1910, the U.S. government opened the Angel Island Immigration Station as a way to isolate Chinese immigrants from the City of San Francisco and the remainder of the Bay Area in Northern California.  These immigrants were brought to Angel Island Station where they were separated from family members, subjected to embarrassing medical examinations and grueling interrogations, and detained for months or sometimes years.

“Despite these hardships, Chinese immigrants persevered, and they continue to make invaluable contributions to the development and success of our country,” Feinstein added.