[Congressional Bills 112th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[S. Res. 201 Introduced in Senate (IS)]

  1st Session
S. RES. 201

 Expressing the regret of the Senate for the passage of discriminatory 
 laws against the Chinese in America, including the Chinese Exclusion 



                              May 26, 2011

  Mr. Brown of Massachusetts (for himself, Mrs. Feinstein, Mr. Hatch, 
   Mrs. Murray, Mr. Cardin, Mr. Rubio, and Mr. Akaka) submitted the 
   following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on the 



 Expressing the regret of the Senate for the passage of discriminatory 
 laws against the Chinese in America, including the Chinese Exclusion 

Whereas many Chinese came to the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries, 
        as did people from other countries, in search of the opportunity to 
        create a better life for themselves and their families;
Whereas the contributions of persons of Chinese descent in the agriculture, 
        mining, manufacturing, construction, fishing, and canning industries 
        were critical to establishing the foundations for economic growth in the 
        Nation, particularly in the western United States;
Whereas United States industrialists recruited thousands of Chinese workers to 
        assist in the construction of the Nation's first major national 
        transportation infrastructure, the Transcontinental Railroad;
Whereas Chinese laborers, who made up the majority of the western portion of the 
        railroad workforce, faced grueling hours and extremely harsh conditions 
        in order to lay hundreds of miles of track and were paid substandard 
Whereas without the tremendous efforts and technical contributions of these 
        Chinese immigrants, the completion of this vital national infrastructure 
        would have been seriously impeded;
Whereas from the middle of the 19th century through the early 20th century, 
        Chinese immigrants faced racial ostracism and violent assaults, 

    (1) the 1887 Snake River Massacre in Oregon, at which 31 Chinese miners 
were killed; and

    (2) numerous other incidents, including attacks on Chinese immigrants 
in Rock Springs, San Francisco, Tacoma, and Los Angeles;

Whereas the United States instigated the negotiation of the Burlingame Treaty, 
        ratified by the Senate on October 19, 1868, which permitted the free 
        movement of the Chinese people to, from, and within the United States 
        and accorded to China the status of ``most favored nation'';
Whereas before consenting to the ratification of the Burlingame Treaty, the 
        Senate required that the Treaty would not permit Chinese immigrants in 
        the United States to be naturalized United States citizens;
Whereas on July 14, 1870, Congress approved An Act to Amend the Naturalization 
        Laws and to Punish Crimes against the Same, and for other Purposes, and 
        during consideration of such Act, the Senate expressly rejected an 
        amendment to allow Chinese immigrants to naturalize;
Whereas Chinese immigrants were subject to the overzealous implementation of the 
        Page Act of 1875 (18 Stat. 477), which--

    (1) ostensibly barred the importation of women from ``China, Japan, or 
any Oriental country'' for purposes of prostitution;

    (2) was disproportionately enforced against Chinese women, effectively 
preventing the formation of Chinese families in the United States and 
limiting the number of native-born Chinese citizens;

Whereas, on February 15, 1879, the Senate passed ``the Fifteen Passenger Bill,'' 
        which would have limited the number of Chinese passengers permitted on 
        any ship coming to the United States to 15, with proponents of the bill 
        expressing that the Chinese were ``an indigestible element in our midst 
        . . . without any adaptability to become citizens'';
Whereas, on March 1, 1879, President Hayes vetoed the Fifteen Passenger Bill as 
        being incompatible with the Burlingame Treaty, which declared that 
        ``Chinese subjects visiting or residing in the United States, shall 
        enjoy the same privileges . . . in respect to travel or residence, as 
        may there be enjoyed by the citizens and subjects of the most favored 
Whereas in the aftermath of the veto of the Fifteen Passenger Bill, President 
        Hayes initiated the renegotiation of the Burlingame Treaty, requesting 
        that the Chinese government consent to restrictions on the immigration 
        of Chinese persons to the United States;
Whereas these negotiations culminated in the Angell Treaty, ratified by the 
        Senate on May 9, 1881, which--

    (1) allowed the United States to suspend, but not to prohibit, the 
immigration of Chinese laborers;

    (2) declared that ``Chinese laborers who are now in the United States 
shall be allowed to go and come of their own free will''; and

    (3) reaffirmed that Chinese persons possessed ``all the rights, 
privileges, immunities, and exemptions which are accorded to the citizens 
and subjects of the most favored nation'';

Whereas, on March 9, 1882, the Senate passed the first Chinese Exclusion Act, 
        which purported to implement the Angell Treaty but instead excluded for 
        20 years both skilled and unskilled Chinese laborers, rejected an 
        amendment that would have permitted the naturalization of Chinese 
        persons, and instead expressly denied Chinese persons the right to be 
        naturalized as American citizens;
Whereas, on April 4, 1882, President Chester A. Arthur vetoed the first Chinese 
        Exclusion Act as being incompatible with the terms and spirit of the 
        Angell Treaty;
Whereas, on May 6, 1882, Congress passed the second Chinese Exclusion Act, 

    (1) prohibited skilled and unskilled Chinese laborers from entering the 
United States for 10 years;

    (2) was the first Federal law that excluded a single group of people on 
the basis of race; and

    (3) required certain Chinese laborers already legally present in the 
United States who later wished to reenter to obtain ``certificates of 
return'', an unprecedented requirement that applied only to Chinese 

Whereas, in response to reports that courts were bestowing United States 
        citizenship on persons of Chinese descent, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 
        1882 explicitly prohibited all State and Federal courts from 
        naturalizing Chinese persons;
Whereas the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 underscored the belief of some 
        Senators at that time that--

    (1) the Chinese people were unfit to be naturalized;

    (2) the social characteristics of the Chinese were ``revolting'';

    (3) Chinese immigrants were ``like parasites''; and

    (4) the United States ``is under God a country of Caucasians, a country 
of white men, a country to be governed by white men'';

Whereas, on July 3, 1884, notwithstanding United States treaty obligations with 
        China and other nations, Congress broadened the scope of the Chinese 
        Exclusion Act--

    (1) to apply to all persons of Chinese descent, ``whether subjects of 
China or any other foreign power''; and

    (2) to provide more stringent requirements restricting Chinese 

Whereas, on October 1, 1888, the Scott Act was enacted into law, which--

    (1) prohibited all Chinese laborers who would choose or had chosen to 
leave the United States from reentering;

    (2) cancelled all previously issued ``certificates of return'', which 
prevented approximately 20,000 Chinese laborers abroad, including 600 
individuals who were en route to the United States, from returning to their 
families or their homes; and

    (3) was later determined by the Supreme Court to have abrogated the 
Angell Treaty;

Whereas, on May 5, 1892, the Geary Act was enacted into law, which--

    (1) extended the Chinese Exclusion Act for 10 years;

    (2) required all Chinese persons in the United States, but no other 
race of people, to register with the Federal Government in order to obtain 
``certificates of residence''; and

    (3) denied Chinese immigrants the right to be released on bail upon 
application for a writ of habeas corpus;

Whereas, on an explicitly racial basis, the Geary Act deemed the testimony of 
        Chinese persons, including American citizens of Chinese descent, per se 
        insufficient to establish the residency of a Chinese person subject to 
        deportation, mandating that such residence be established through the 
        testimony of ``at least one credible white witness'';
Whereas, in the 1894 Gresham-Yang Treaty, the Chinese government consented to a 
        prohibition of Chinese immigration and the enforcement of the Geary Act 
        in exchange for the readmission of previous Chinese residents;
Whereas in 1898, the United States--

    (1) annexed Hawaii;

    (2) took control of the Philippines; and

    (3) excluded thousands of racially Chinese residents of Hawaii and of 
the Philippines from entering the United States mainland;

Whereas on April 29, 1902, Congress--

    (1) indefinitely extended all laws regulating and restricting Chinese 
immigration and residence; and

    (2) expressly applied such laws to United States insular territories, 
including the Philippines;

Whereas in 1904, after the Chinese government exercised its unilateral right to 
        withdraw from the Gresham-Yang Treaty, Congress permanently extended, 
        ``without modification, limitation, or condition'', all restrictions on 
        Chinese immigration and naturalization, making the Chinese the only 
        racial group explicitly singled out for immigration exclusion and 
        permanently ineligible for American citizenship;
Whereas between 1910 and 1940, the Angel Island Immigration Station implemented 
        the Chinese exclusion laws by--

    (1) confining Chinese persons for up to nearly 2 years;

    (2) interrogating Chinese persons; and

    (3) providing a model for similar immigration stations at other 
locations on the Pacific coast and in Hawaii;

Whereas each of the congressional debates concerning issues of Chinese civil 
        rights, naturalization, and immigration involved intensely racial 
        rhetoric, with many Members of Congress claiming that all persons of 
        Chinese descent were--

    (1) unworthy of American citizenship;

    (2) incapable of assimilation into American society; and

    (3) dangerous to the political and social integrity of the United 

Whereas the express discrimination in these Federal statutes politically and 
        racially stigmatized Chinese immigration into the United States, 
        enshrining in law the exclusion of the Chinese from the political 
        process and the promise of American freedom;
Whereas wartime enemy forces used the anti-Chinese legislation passed in 
        Congress as evidence of American racism against the Chinese, attempting 
        to undermine the Chinese-American alliance and allied military efforts;
Whereas, in 1943, at the urging of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and over 60 
        years after the enactment of the first discriminatory laws against 
        Chinese immigrants, Congress--

    (1) repealed previously enacted anti-Chinese legislation; and

    (2) permitted Chinese immigrants to become naturalized United States 

Whereas, despite facing decades of systematic, pervasive, and sustained 
        discrimination, Chinese immigrants and Chinese-Americans persevered and 
        have continued to play a significant role in the growth and success of 
        the United States;
Whereas 6 decades of Federal legislation deliberately targeting Chinese by 

    (1) restricted the capacity of generations of individuals and families 
to openly pursue the American dream without fear; and

    (2) fostered an atmosphere of racial discrimination that deeply 
prejudiced the civil rights of Chinese immigrants;

Whereas diversity is one of our Nation's greatest strengths, and, while this 
        Nation was founded on the principle that all persons are created equal, 
        the laws enacted by Congress in the late 19th and early 20th centuries 
        that restricted the political and civil rights of persons of Chinese 
        descent violated that principle;
Whereas although an acknowledgment of the Senate's actions that contributed to 
        discrimination against persons of Chinese descent will not erase the 
        past, such an expression will acknowledge and illuminate the injustices 
        in our national experience and help to build a better and stronger 
Whereas the Senate recognizes the importance of addressing this unique framework 
        of discriminatory laws in order to educate the public and future 
        generations regarding the impact of these laws on Chinese and other 
        Asian persons and their implications to all Americans; and
Whereas the Senate deeply regrets the enactment of the Chinese Exclusion Act and 
        related discriminatory laws that--

    (1) resulted in the persecution and political alienation of persons of 
Chinese descent;

    (2) unfairly limited their civil rights;

    (3) legitimized racial discrimination; and

    (4) induced trauma that persists within the Chinese community: Now, 
therefore, be it

    Resolved, That the Senate--
            (1) acknowledges that this framework of anti-Chinese 
        legislation, including the Chinese Exclusion Act, is 
        incompatible with the basic founding principles recognized in 
        the Declaration of Independence that all persons are created 
            (2) acknowledges that this pattern of anti-Chinese 
        legislation, including the Chinese Exclusion Act, is 
        incompatible with the spirit of the United States Constitution;
            (3) deeply regrets passing 6 decades of legislation 
        directly targeting the Chinese people for physical and 
        political exclusion and the wrongs committed against Chinese 
        and American citizens of Chinese descent who suffered under 
        these discriminatory laws; and
            (4) reaffirms its commitment to preserving the same civil 
        rights and constitutional protections for people of Chinese or 
        other Asian descent in the United States accorded to all 
        others, regardless of their race or ethnicity.