US Senate apologizes for discriminating laws

Updated: 2011-10-09 22:53


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WASHINGTON - The US Senate has apologized for the country's discriminating laws targeting Chinese immigrants at the turn of 20th century, and the Chinese American community said it brings a sense of closure and justice to their community.

The Senate passed the resolution on Thursday evening with unanimous consent. It acknowledged the contributions made by Chinese immigrants to US economic growth in the late 19th century and the start of 20th century, and recounted injustices, including the Chinese Exclusion Laws, done to the Chinese community.

The Chinese Exclusion Laws involved legislation the 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 ten-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.

The resolution, sponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein, Scott Brown and others, acknowledges anti-Chinese legislations are incompatible with the principle embodied in the Declaration of Independence that all persons are created equal, and the spirit of the United States Constitution. It "deeply regrets" passing those legislations and the wrongs committed against Chinese and American citizens of Chinese descent who suffered under these discriminatory laws, and committed to preserving the same civil rights and constitutional protections for people of Chinese or other Asian descent in the United States.

The resolution "cannot undo the hurt caused by past discrimination against Chinese immigrants, but it is important that we acknowledge the wrongs that were committed many years ago, " said Brown, the lead sponsor, in a statement.    

Feinstein said Friday that she hopes the 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 live through this difficult time."

Haipei Shue, an activist who was central in bringing the legislation to the Congress, told Xinhua Friday that he was " overwhelmed" by the news, and expressed hope that the House version of the resolution, sponsored by Rep. Judy Chu, Rep. Judy Biggert, Rep. Mike Coffman and others, could pass before next May.

This is only the first step and next they want to launch an education campaign to help Chinese Americans understand their forefathers, said Shue.

"It brings a sense of closure and a sense of justice... It demonstrates if we work together, we can make a difference," Shue added.