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2011 – The Congressional Resolutions Expressing Regret

The Senate Resolution

On October 6, 2011, the United States Senate unanimously passed a resolution S.RES201 expressing the regret of the Senate for the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act and other anti-Chinese legislation enacted between in the subsequent 60 years, and affirmed on record for Chinese and other Asian immigrants the same civil rights afforded other nationalities.

“The enactment of Chinese Exclusionary laws is a shameful part of our history that must not be forgotten,” said the chief Democratic sponsor, Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif. “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 chief Republican co-sponsor Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass. said, “It is important that we acknowledge the wrongs that were committed many years ago.”

The Senate resolution further recognized “The contributions of persons of Chinese descent in the agriculture, mining, manufacturing, construction, fishing, and canning industries were critical to establishing the foundations for economic growth in the Nation, particularly in the western United States.”

The House Resolution

On June 18, 2012, the United States House of Representatives passed 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. The House resolution declared the exclusion law was wrong and unjust because “the United States was founded on the principle that all persons are created equal.”

Rep. Judy Chu, D-Cali, led the effort to push this resolution which was co-sponsored by 15 Democrats and 5 Republicans. Rep. Chu spoke on the House floor, “It is for my grandfather and for all Chinese Americans that we must pass this resolution, for those who were told for six decades by the U.S. Government that the land of the free wasn’t open to them.”


The 1882 Project

The two congressional resolutions were pushed forward by an organized movement, made up primarily of members of the Chinese and Asian- American communities, much of which was organized under the 1882 Project. Members include the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, the Japanese American Citizens League and others. The American Jewish Committee, among others, has endorsed this movement.

According to the coalition, it was vitally important for the current Congress to pass the resolution, “before the last living generation subject to the Chinese Exclusion laws leave us.” Click here to read its Final Report.

Canada’s Full Apology  

On June 22, 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered a full apology to Chinese Canadians for the Head Tax and expressed his deepest sorrow for the subsequent exclusion of Chinese immigrants from 1923 until 1947.

“For over six decades, these malicious measures, aimed solely at the Chinese, were implemented with deliberation by the Canadian state,” said the Prime Minister. “This was a grave injustice, and one we are morally obligated to acknowledge.”