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Senate Passes Feinstein Resolution on Chinese Exclusion Laws

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

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today announced Congress has passed her resolution expressing Congressional regret for the discriminatory Chinese Exclusion Act and other laws against Chinese immigrants in the 20th Century. 

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 resolution that passed the Senate unanimously:

  • Expresses regret for  six decades of legislation targeting the Chinese people for physical and political exclusion; and
  • Reaffirms the commitment of the Senate to preserving the same civil rights and constitutional protections for people of Chinese or other Asian descent in the United States accorded to all others.

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 earlier this year, 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 the Angel Island Immigration 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. 

Senator Scott Brown (R-Mass.) is the lead Republican sponsor of the resolution.