“Sorry” XOXO, California

July 23, 2009

On July 17, the California legislature quietly approved a landmark bill to apologize to the state’s Chinese-American community for racist laws enacted as far back as the mid–19th century Gold Rush, which attracted about 25,000 Chinese from 1849 to 1852.  The laws, some of which were not repealed until the 1940s, barred Chinese from owning land or property, marrying whites, working in the public sector and testifying against whites in court. The new bill also recognizes the contributions Chinese immigrants have made to the state, particularly their work on the Transcontinental Railroad.

china_california_0721With the California bill in the bag, Fong now plans to take the issue to Congress, where he will request an apology for the Chinese Exclusion Act, the only federal law ever enacted to deny immigration based exclusively on race or nationality. Passed in 1882, the law was not fully repealed until 1943, after China and the U.S. became allies in WWII. Given President Obama’s decision to appoint Gary Locke as Commerce Secretary and Steven Chu as Energy Secretary, Fong says he’s confident of the bill’s passage. “As a person of color, President Obama would understand these issues,” he says. Read full article here.

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