RELEASE: Sen. De Leòn, Asm. Fong Hail Congressional Action on Chinese Americans

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

 Rep. Chu’s Resolution Echoes CA’s ’09 ACR Apologizing for Decades of Discrimination

            SACRAMENTO, CA – Through the passage of Assembly Concurrent Resolution 42 (ACR 42) in 2009, California was the first in the nation to express regret for our nation’s passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act and other horrendous forms of discrimination suffered by Chinese Americans. ACR 42 was co-authored by Senator Kevin de Leòn (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblymember Paul Fong (D-Cupertino), who today applauded Representative Judy Chu’s resolution passed yesterday by Congress officially apologizing on behalf of the United States.

 “It was important then that we acknowledged California’s troubled past of ethnic and racial discrimination,” said De Leòn. “I am pleased to see Congress following suit. Our resolution sought closure for a community that has contributed significantly to the cultural fabric and great diversity of our state.”

 “It is time the nation recognized the faults of its past and acknowledge the many trials and tribulations Chinese immigrants have faced,” commented Fong. “I am proud of the contributions my ancestors made to help build this great nation and look forward to celebrating their legacy.”

  ACR 42 drew attention to the fact that Chinese in California were once denied the right to own property, the right to work in the public sector, the right to testify in court. The State Legislature and local governments burdened them with unjust taxes, limited their right to marry, targeted the Chinese culture, and sought to prevent Chinese in California from incorporating into society. The resolution affirmed that California’s heinous practices led Congress to adopt the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882; the first federal law ever discriminating against a specific group solely on the basis of race or nationality. 

  ACR 42 also paid tribute to the contributions of Chinese immigrants in California, most notably their work on the Transcontinental Railroad–considered by many to be the greatest technological American feat of the 19th century.

  “The state of California owes a great deal of gratitude to Chinese Californians who, despite years of sustained and pervasive discrimination, achieved incredible feats and made great sacrifices to help build and strengthen our state,” said De León. “Since California helped pave the way for discrimination at the national level, I am glad we also could help initiate a long overdue apology.”