The anniversary of the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act serves as a moment of reflection on the historical injustices faced by Chinese immigrants in the United States. The provided statements from various political figures underscore the significance of the repeal and acknowledge the enduring impact of the Chinese Exclusion Act. The expressions of commemoration and calls for continued efforts against discrimination, xenophobia, and anti-Asian hate reflect the ongoing commitment to creating an inclusive society that celebrates diversity and equality.
Statement from President Joe Biden on the 80th Anniversary of the Repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act
Our nation was founded on the fundamental idea that we are created equal and deserve to be treated equally. But for 61 years, the Chinese Exclusion Act failed to live up to that promise. It weaponized our immigration system to discriminate against an entire ethnic group and was followed by further discrimination against many in Europe and all of Asia. The Act, along with racism and xenophobia in other parts of American life, was part of the anti-Chinese “Driving Out” era which included the Rock Springs and Hells Canyon massacres. In 1943, the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed and it was followed by laws that led to an immigration system that better reflected our values as a nation of immigrants.
On this anniversary, we remember those whose lives, families, and communities were irreparably harmed. We remember the brave and diverse voices – from Frederick Douglass to Blanche Bruce to Pearl Buck to the American Jewish Committee and so many others – who spoke up in solidarity against that Act and demanded a fairer and more just immigration system. And we recognize that despite the progress we have made, hate never goes away. It only hides. Today, there are those who still demonize immigrants and fan the flames of intolerance. It’s wrong. I ran for President to restore the soul of America. To bring people together and make sure we give hate no safe harbor. To celebrate the diversity that is our country’s strength.
For generations, people of Chinese heritage have enriched our country – from Chinese laborers who did backbreaking work to build the transcontinental railroad in the 1800s to the Chinese Americans who serve in our military, to the authors, artists, scientists, entrepreneurs, and scholars of today. We honor them, and all immigrants, who continue to make extraordinary contributions to our nation.
Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Marks 80 Years Since the Chinese Exclusion Act was Repealed
WASHINGTON, D.C. — This Sunday, December 17, 2023, marks the 80th anniversary of the passage of the Magnuson Act of 1943, which repealed the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. The Chinese Exclusion Act was the first law to expressly target and prohibit a specific group from immigrating to the United States. In June 2012, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) Chair Rep. Judy Chu (CA-28) introduced a resolution expressing regret for the Chinese Exclusion Act, which passed the House of Representatives unanimously on June 18, 2012. The Senate version of the resolution passed unanimously on October 7, 2011.
To commemorate the 80th anniversary of the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act, CAPAC Members released the following statements:
CAPAC Chair Rep. Judy Chu (CA-28):
“As we mark the 80th anniversary of the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, I am encouraged to see the progress our nation as made so far. The Chinese Exclusion Act is among the worst stains on our nation’s history, and the Chinese American community continues to feel its legacy today. As one of the most discriminatory laws ever passed by Congress, it split Chinese families apart, created a permanent second-class citizenry for the Chinese immigrants living in the U.S. that could never obtain citizenship or the right to vote, and fomented the perpetual foreigner myth that remains with us today.
“The repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1943 was a significant first step towards justice for Chinese Americans, who continue to enrich the fabric of our nation in countless ways. But while we celebrate the anniversary of the repeal of this shameful law, we must also recommit ourselves to combatting xenophobia, racism, and discrimination in all its forms and against all its victims. That is why I have introduced a Congressional resolution to commemorate this milestone anniversary and ensure our resilient history is remembered. Now as ever, we must safeguard the rights of immigrants, refugees, and all communities suffering from dangerous rhetoric and policies to ensure history does not repeat itself.”
CAPAC First Vice-Chair Rep. Grace Meng (NY-06):
“The Chinese Exclusion Act is a notable example of when our country did not rise to our ideals of justice and equality. Its repeal in 1943 was an important first step toward equality for Chinese Americans—and all American immigrants. I am proud to cosponsor Chairwoman Chu’s resolution, which commemorates the 80th anniversary of the repeal. I will continue advocating for the broader immigrant community so we will never repeat this shameful chapter.”
CAPAC Whip Rep. Ted Lieu (CA-36):
“On this day 80 years ago, Congress passed a measure to repeal the discriminatory Chinese Exclusion Act. The Act had established exclusion laws on Chinese immigrants and established restrictive immigration quotas for individuals coming from China. The repeal of this racist law was a step in the right direction, but the United States government continued to restrict immigration from Asian nations for years afterward. Today, acts of anti-Asian hate are still far too common, and Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders face unique forms of racist and xenophobic stereotyping. Chairwoman Judy Chu’s resolution expressing the regret of Congress for the ugly, un-American Act was a significant marker of the progress we have made as a nation, but now some states are taking a step backwards by passing xenophobic laws banning the sale and purchase of real estate based on nationality. These state laws end up placing a burden on anyone whose last name looks Asian. We must continue our work to oppose these stupid and xenophobic state laws; end discrimination against the AANHPI community; and eradicate all forms of bias, discrimination and bigotry.”
Sen. Mazie Hirono (HI):
“This weekend, we recognize an important step the United States took towards equality when it repealed the Chinese Exclusion Act 80 years ago. That discriminatory legislation banned the immigration of Chinese laborers, prohibiting them from entering the country and effectively became the one of first restrictions on immigration by race in U.S. history. While we have made important progress since then, the fights we thought we had won don’t stay won. Eternal vigilance is required of all of us. There is still so much work to do and as we work to empower AANHPI communities, we must continue advocating on behalf of all underrepresented groups across our country.”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-07):
“80 years ago today, the United States repealed one of the most racist and discriminatory laws we have ever seen this country hold – the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. It paved the way for other racist laws that restricted immigration for generations. As we acknowledge this anniversary and all of the pain that this xenophobic legislation caused for families and communities across the nation, let us recommit ourselves to rejecting hateful and exclusionary immigration policies in today’s Congress. Immigrants make this country better, and we must keep fighting alongside them for their right to survive and thrive while treating them with dignity, humanity, and respect.”
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08):
“The Chinese Exclusion Act’s legacy is a stain on our nation’s history as it enshrined anti-Chinese discrimination while denying thousands the chance to pursue the American Dream. As we mark 80 years since its repeal, let us celebrate the advancements of the AAPI community while recommitting ourselves to the work of defeating anti-Asian hate.”
Rep. Kevin Mullin (CA-15):
“In 1943, Congress repealed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which exacerbated discriminatory and hateful policies towards Asian Americans and Asian immigrants for over 60 years. As we mark the 80th anniversary of this historic moment, the anti-Asian hate that arose during the COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder that we still have work to do in ensuring equality for all.”
Rep. Linda Sánchez (CA-38):
“The 80th anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Repeal Act is a chance to reflect on the progress we have made in combatting Anti-Asian racism. While we acknowledge our progress, it is more important than ever we continue to fight for equality and justice — and for a world where diversity is not just accepted but celebrated.”
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More statements related to the Chinese Exclusion Act:
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