Resolution Expressing Regret for the Chinese Exclusion Laws (H. Res 282)

Issues: Immigration

Congress passed numerous laws to restrict Chinese Americans, starting from the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act to stop the Chinese with immigrating, from ever becoming naturalized citizens and ever having the right to vote.  This was the first and only time that a group of people was excluded from the promises of American freedom and democracy just because of their race.

H Res 282 expresses regret for the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Laws and reaffirms Congress’s commitment to protecting the civil rights of all Americans.  The Senate passed a similar resolution, S. Res. 201, on October 6, 2011. 

This resolution is ciritical because by discriminating on the basis of race, the Chinese Exclusion Laws violated fundamental American civil rights, including the right of persons in the United States, to equal protection of the laws and kept them out of participating in the political process because they could not vote.

Although these laws were repealed in 1943 as a war measure to get China to be our ally during World War II, Congress has never expressly acknowledged that the anti-Chinese laws violated fundamental civil rights.  By acting now and passing H Res 282, the House can make amends during the lifetimes of the last living generation that were directly subjected to the Chinese Exclusion Laws.