The State of California quietly passed a bill (ACR 42) last week to officially apologize to Chinese-Americans for discriminatory laws and provisions which resulted in the persecution of Chinese immigrants living in California in the 19th and 20th centuries. The racist laws, enacted as far back as the Gold Rush, barred Chinese from voting, owning properties, working in the public sector or testifying against whites in court. The bill also recognized the significant contributions made by Chinese immigrants to the state.
Paul Fong and De Leon, co-sponsors of the bill, said in a statement:
Learning from our past and acknowledging the travesties of justice in our history will help enable us to travel further down the path towards building a stronger state. This resolution seeks to recognize this fact by paying tribute to the significant contributions that Chinese in California made to our state despite the pervasive and sustained discrimination made against them by the State of California.
The apology, although mostly symbolic, is long overdue and will be well received in the Chinese communities throughout the U.S.
Similar bills have passed in recent years, including U.S. government apologizing to African Americans for slavery, and to Japanese Americans for detaining innocent immigrants during World War II.
Time reported that
With 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.