Legislature Recognizes 135th Anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Act, Denounces Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Executive Orders

Monday, August 21, 2017

Many Republican lawmakers oppose or abstain in vote about this atrocity of history and nativist policies of today

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – The California State Legislature passed a resolution recognizing the 135th Anniversary of the signing of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and calling on President Donald Trump to revoke his anti-immigrant executive orders. Authored by Assemblymembers Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) and David Chiu (D-San Francisco), Assembly Joint Resolution (AJR) 14 passed out of the Assembly today with a 60-0-19 vote following a Senate 30-10-0 vote last month.  Thirty-one Republicans voted no or abstained from this measure.

“Sadly, even after Charlottesville, we continue to see Republicans refusing to acknowledge the injustices in our nation’s history.  The White House is fueling a rise of white nationalism, tied to anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment.  Asian Americans see the echoes of the past in President Trump’s discriminatory executive orders,” said Ting.  “AJR 14 recognizes the wrongs of the Chinese Exclusion Act, and urges the federal government to learn from the mistakes of the past and end their support of racist, disruptive, and divisive policies and organizations.”

“Recognizing the travesties of our history enables us to see today’s anti-immigrant rhetoric for what it is – shameful and unacceptable,” said Chiu, whose district includes the oldest Chinatown in America. “California must be a place of freedom and hope, not oppression and racism. Let us continue to set an example of acceptance, tolerance, and unity in this great state.”

“For more than 60 years, Chinese Americans faced oppression, racism, and unjust treatment from their own government due to the Chinese Exclusion Act,” said Vincent Pan, Executive Director of Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA).  “Across this country we have seen a surge in the white nationalist movement, fueling support for discriminatory policies that are being enacted by this White House.  California has stood up for our immigrant and Muslim communities by passing this resolution.”

The Chinese Exclusion Act was signed into law by President Chester A. Arthur on May 6, 1882.  It was the country’s first law prohibiting immigration solely on the basis of ethnicity and also denied a path to citizenship for Chinese persons for more than 60 years.  The text of the Chinese Exclusion Act states “the coming of Chinese laborers to this country endangers the good order of certain localities,” which served to criminalize Chinese people who wanted to come to the United States to work. 

President Trump has released several executive orders aimed at deportation and denial of entry for people from Muslim countries.  Executive Orders 13767 and 13768, issued on January 25th, 2017, directs the hiring of 10,000 additional Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, expands the categories of those who are prioritized for deportation, and calls for building a southern border wall with Mexico.  Executive Order 13780, issued on March 6, 2017, suspended the entry of refugees for 120 days and sought to limit the total number of refugees entering the country. 

AJR 14 is supported by Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the California Historical Society, California Immigrant Policy Center, CAA, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights Los Angeles, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and Organization of Chinese Americans Sacramento chapter.



Contact:  Jessica Duong, tel. (916) 319-2019

Photos courtesy of the California Historical Society are available here.