1882 PROJECT APPLAUDS THE PASSAGE OF HOUSE RESOLUTION ADDRESSING CHINESE EXCLUSION LAWS

WASHINGTON, DC – The 1882 Project applauds the bipartisan passage of House Resolution 683, which addresses discriminatory laws against the Chinese in America, including the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. With the previously passed Senate Resolution 201 last October, Congress has acknowledged finally six decades of shameful legislation to keep Chinese from immigrating to the United Sates and prohibiting them from becoming American citizens.

Although the laws were repealed in 1943, they were repealed in order to strengthen America’s military strategic position in World War II. There was never an acknowledgement of the injustice and the harm these laws inflicted on tens of thousands of individuals and families, nor has there ever been acknowledgement of how the laws violated U.S. constitutional civil rights and undermined fundamental American founding principles.

House Resolution 683 was passed today in the House with the leadership provided by the prime sponsor, Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA), and her original co-sponsor Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith. The resolution was first introduced as H. Res. 282 in May 2011, by Congresswoman Judy Chu with her original co-sponsors Representatives Judy Biggert (R-IL), Mike Coffman (R-CO) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA).

They could not have done so without the tremendous efforts of many individuals and community organizations throughout the nation. A partial list of supporting national organizations includes: American Jewish Committee, Asian American Federation, Asian American Institute, Asian American Justice Center, Asian Law Caucus, Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Association for Asian American Studies, Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association, East Coast Asian American Student Union and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association.

It is important to recognize the 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. The primary sponsors in the Senate were Senators Scott Brown (R-MA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

The 1882 Project was initiated two years ago to seek Congressional action to address the Chinese Exclusion Laws and to promote public awareness and education about the history and continued significance of the laws. The Project is guided by a Steering Committee composed of Chinese American Citizens Alliance, Committee of 100, Japanese American Citizens League, National Council of Chinese Americans and OCA, with pro bono support from Covington and Burling LLP.

“The 1882 Project deeply appreciates the determination of Congresswoman Judy Chu, the support of many co-sponsors, the leadership of the Judiciary Committee and the House and, more importantly, the commitment of the community for making this historic moment possible.” said Michael C. Lin, Chair of the 1882 Project. “With this momentum, we need to ensure the awareness of the public and the future generations, so that we understand the history and learn the lessons to prevent this kind of injustice from happening again.”

Carolyn Chan, Grand President of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, stated on this occasion that “Weapplaud Congress for passing H. Res. 683 and S. Res. 201, affirming our faith in a system that can admit and correct its mistakes. Passionate advocates, including the many empowering organizations comprising this bold effort, must renew our resolve to vigilantly teach the lessons learned from history. A better America results from protection of civil rights and laws applied equally to all.”

“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.” said Frank Wu, Vice Chair of the Committee of 100.

“The Japanese American Citizens League applauds Congress for its historic acknowledgement of racially discriminatory laws that created unprecedented restrictions on the rights of Chinese and Asian immigrants. Today, they are remembered for their heroic contributions to the nation. The adoption of House Resolution 683 helps to erase the stigma that was unfairly imposed on these great Americans,” commented Priscilla Ouchida, National Executive Director of the Japanese American Citizens League.

“National Council of Chinese Americans applauds the House of Representatives for taking moral responsibility for past discriminatory legislation against Chinese in America. This is a great day not just for Chinese Americans but for all Americans. The suffering and wounds caused by the Chinese Exclusion Acts can start to heal. We will continue to educate this and future generations to fight for the realization of the full promise of this great nation,” said Haipei Shue, President of the National Council of Chinese Americans.

“OCA is humbled and gratified by this momentous achievement as a community. The passage of the resolutions in both houses poignantly echoes the very virtues that this great country aspires to live up to. We are particularly proud of our organizational colleagues and the countless individuals who are our true advocates. These activists all across the country mobilized passionately to the call. They acted based on the ardent belief that our history deserves the light of day in measure that properly marks the wrongs of the past but more importantly, upholds the promise of justice and equality for current and future generations,” stated OCA Executive Director Tom Hayashi.

Martin Gold, pro bono Counsel of the 1882 Project, Partner, Covington and Burling LLP, commented, “We at Covington & Burling are tremendously gratified that House of Representatives has recognized the history of the Chinese exclusion laws and expressed regret for such discriminatory legislation. The adoption of H. Res. 683 is an historic moment of which we are proud and honored to be a part. We are especially thankful for the leadership of Representatives Judy Chu and Judy Biggert, Chairman Lamar Smith and their staffs, whose commitment to bringing this history to light has been unflagging, and to the community organizations and members whose tireless advocacy garnered the crucial grassroots support that propelled the resolution’s passage.”

The 1882 Project is a nonpartisan, grassroots effort spearheaded by the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, the Committee of 100, the Japanese American Citizens League, the National Council of Chinese Americans, and OCA with pro bono support of Covington & Burling, LLP. The Project’s larger mission is to educate the American public about the history and consequences of the Chinese Exclusion Laws, their extended impact on persons of Asian descent, and their continuing significance for all Americans. For more information on the 1882 Project, please visit www.1882project.org.