SAN FRANCISCO, CA– The Chinese American Citizens Alliance praises the bipartisan passage of Senate Resolution 201, which addresses the passage of discriminatory laws against the Chinese in America, including the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. While these laws were repealed in 1943 to strengthen the alliance between the United States and China during World War II; until Thursday, October 6, Congress had never formally acknowledged or expressed regret for the pain and suffering endured by Chinese immigrants and their American descendants as a result of the discriminatory laws.
Senate Resolution 201 was passed by unanimous consent. The primary sponsor, Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) acted on the same convictions and beliefs of his predecessor, Senator George Hoar, who held that exclusion and racism had no place in America. Senator Hoar opposed the Exclusion Laws from the beginning and, despite tremendous popular pressure, he cast the single vote in the Senate opposing their permanent extension in 1904.
Senator Brown's co-sponsor, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), a long time champion of civil rights, knows how policies that began in her state, eventually had an adverse effect nationally on the lives of Chinese Americans for generations. She worked with Brown to ensure the historical record did not remain hidden so that its lessons could be reviewed by all Americans. A key part of the resolution was a reaffirmation that Congress will preserve civil rights and constitutional protections to all people in the United States regardless of their ethnicity.
The Chinese American Citizens Alliance salutes and acknowledges the leadership of the resolution’s cosponsors including Orin Hatch (R-UT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and their Senate colleagues, and the community for their support.
Chinese American Citizens Alliance, Committee of 100, Japanese American Citizens League, National Council of Chinese Americans, and OCA are the Steering Committee of the 1882 Project, which is spearheading this resolution (and its House Res. 282) with pro bono guidance from Covington and Burling LLC.
Carolyn Chan, Grand President of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, stated on this occasion that “The passage of this resolution is a historic milestone. It marks a substantial step along a road the Chinese American Citizens Alliance began over a hundred years ago to correct discriminatory Chinese Exclusion Laws first enacted in 1882. In 2009, the Alliance was instrumental in obtaining statements of regret in San Francisco and California. We are proud to have been part of The 1882 Project team that brought this Senate Resolution to passage three years later. But the work is not completed as the companion House Resolution 282 needs to be passed and, most importantly, we must continue to educate the public and develop programs about the history and consequences of these laws. I add my applause to that of all Americans concerned with the protection of civil rights and fundamental American values. The pride we have in today’s passage is the pride in being part of a nation that has political institutions and values that allow for self-examination and can admit mistakes so that we can build a more perfect union for all. The Alliance congratulates the Senate for its action on Thursday, October 6, 2011.”
Additionally, on behalf of the Grand Board and all Alliance members, Chan praised everyone’s effort saying, “We express our gratitude to the many organizations and individuals who diligently educated and motivated their communities and their political leaders about the injustice wrought by the over sixty years of exclusion laws. Their passionate pursuit of admission of past mistakes puts our nation on the right path toward achieving justice for all.”
“Passage of S. Res. 201 demonstrates that our democracy is available to all. The power of passionate cooperation of the organizations and individuals supporting the resolution with those in power to correct the injustice of more than 60 years of exclusion laws has corrected this very sad chapter of American history. Our democracy’s strength is in its political institutions, which can evaluate themselves, right the wrongs and strive for the American ideal. The power of diligent education of the public and policymakers by participating organizations and passionate individuals has resulted in a correction of history and redirects our path toward achieving the promise of justice for all,” concluded Chan.