LOS ANGELES (June, 14, 2012) — Standing just a few feet away from the site of an infamous massacre of 19th Century Chinese immigrants, U.S. Rep. Judy Chu, D-CA-El Monte, along with a coalition of Chinese American community groups, announced on Wednesday a breakthrough in negotiations to bring her bill expressing regret for the Chinese Exclusion Act to a vote on Monday June 18th at 4:00PM EST.
This means that it will be successfully passed out of the House of Representatives.
Rep. Chu, the first Chinese American Congresswoman, first introduced the resolution in May 2011, during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. When passed, it will mark the first time Congress officially acknowledges the discrimination and human rights abuses perpetrated against Chinese Americans under the Chinese Exclusion Act, a bill passed in 1882 which prevented the Chinese from voting or becoming naturalized citizens.
“I am proud to announce that just last week, Lamar Smith, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and I reached a bipartisan agreement to move this resolution to the House floor for a vote on Monday,” said Rep. Chu, surrounded by representatives from Chinese American advocacy groups in front of the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles’ Chinatown. “It is finally time that both houses of Congress officially and formally acknowledge these ugly laws that targeted Chinese immigrants, and express the sincere regret that Chinese Americans deserve.”
A companion bill to Rep. Chu’s resolution, S. Res. 201, passed unanimously in the Senate last October. Passage of her House resolution, which is expected to reach the House floor this month, would lead to the U.S. government’s first official acknowledgement of and regret for the Chinese Exclusion Act, which was not repealed for 60 years, until World War II.
“This is an historic agreement,” said Rep. Chu of her resolution, H. Res. 683, as she stood just a few feet from Los Angeles Street, which was known in October 1871 as Calle De Los Negros, the site of the infamous massacre which killed 16 Chinese residents. “With this resolution, the House will finally acknowledge the Chinese Exclusion Laws’ injustice, and express regret for the lives it destroyed, and together we will make sure that the prejudice that stained our nation is never repeated.”
Following the press conference, Rep. Chu joined a press call on Thursday with community leaders from around the country.
Michael C. Lin, Chair of the 1882 Project also reminded participants of the overwhelming support for this resolution in Congress, as the Senate version of Rep. Chu’s bill passed unanimously last October.
“I wish to take this opportunity to recognize the exceptional significance of a companion resolution, Senate Resolution 201, passed last October which acknowledged the discriminatory laws and reaffirmed the Senate’s commitment to preserving civil rights and constitutional protections for all Americans regardless of race or ethnicity,” Lin said.
Frank Wu, speaking on behalf of the Committee of 100 added, “Committee of 100 thanks everyone who helped ensure that Chinese Americans are able to participate fully in the democratic process. Committee of 100 appreciates especially the broad coalition of individuals and community groups that made this landmark legislation possible.”
Carolyn H. Chan, Grand President of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, said The Chinese American Citizens Alliance, organized in 1895 to seek equality and justice and encourage Chinese in America to embrace and serve their communities and nation, salutes Rep. Chu and Rep. Lamar Smith, R-TX, for their bipartisan co-sponsorship of H. Res. 683.
“These actions affirm our faith in a system that can admit and correct its mistakes, expressing regret for the discriminatory laws that past Congresses enacted that denied basic civil rights to Chinese in America – the right to become citizens, the right to vote, and the right to educational, housing, employment and economic opportunities available to others,” said Chan.
Tom Hayashi, National Executive Director of the Organization of Chinese Americans, said OCA is dedicated to advancing the political, social, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans.
“OCA is honored to share in this work with strategic allies from all corners of the APA community to reach this historical milestone,” said Hayashi. “The passage of the resolutions in both Houses poignantly echoes the very virtues that this great nation aspires to live up to since it’s founding.”
National Council of Chinese Americans President Haipei Shue said he applauded the passage of H. Res 683, and the U.S. House joining the Senate in closing a sad and discriminatory chapter in our nation’s history. He said it renews the very promise of the United States of America.
“This is a new day for Chinese and Asian Americans,” Shue said. “This is not just a great day for us, it truly is also a great day for all Americans, for American democracy and justice.”
C.C. Yin, Founder and Chair of Asian Pacific American Public Affairs Association, said he is “honored to be among the coalition of the most prominent Chinese Organizations in this country to support this historic resolution which addresses the discriminatory measures of past decades against the Chinese that restricted immigration and violated the civil rights of the Chinese living in the United States.”