MONTEREY PARK, CA, June 07, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Senate Joint Resolution 23, as amended, and Senate Concurrent Resolution 122, were passed unanimously by the California State Senate on June 5, 2014.
The Apology for the Chinese Exclusion Act Committee, a grassroots organization formed by Hon. Betty Tom Chu, former Mayor of City of Monterey Park; Hon. Dr. Sophie C. Wong, former President/Board of Education, Alhambra Unified School District; John Wong, founder of Chinese American Citizens Alliance/Greater San Gabriel Valley Lodge, Immediate Past CACA Grand Vice-President (National); and John Gee, CACA Grand Representative (National) and Immediate Past President, are working to obtain formal apologies to be issued to Chinese Americans for the enactment of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and similar laws. That Act was the first time U.S. federal law was passed to exclude immigration rights based solely on race. The results tore many Chinese American families apart. The affects of the Chinese Exclusion Act prohibited voting, naturalization, and served as a national narrative tone for discrimination against the Chinese.
Senator Bob Huff (R-29th Dist) introduced SJR 23 on April 10, 2014, following the request from the Chinese American Citizens Alliance/Greater San Gabriel Valley Lodge (CACA/GSGVL) in Monterey Park.
SJR 23, as amended, is a request by the California Legislature to the U. S. Congress for the adoption of resolutions of apology to the Chinese American community for enactment of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and other similar Chinese Exclusion Laws.
The apology of the California State Legislature for the enactment of past discriminatory laws and Constitutional provisions that resulted in the persecution of Chinese living in California, in SJR 23 as introduced, is now separated into SCR 122.
Previous efforts to attain an official apology from the U.S. Congress resulted in the passage of a Resolution of Regret in 2012. But as Senator Huff explained, "An expression of 'regret' is different from an actual apology. Regret is ambiguous and may or may not imply guilt. An apology is clear, expressing both regret and responsibility."
Indeed, this was the cornerstone of rationale taken by the Apology for the Chinese Exclusion Act Committee. Former Mayor Betty Tom Chu of Monterey Park, the densely Chinese American populated city east of Los Angeles, summed up the issue: "An apology is a sincere expression of accepting responsibility for doing something wrong. That our government can boldly admit and make a declaration of apology is what makes this country so great. We are a stronger nation when we accept responsibility for acts of discrimination."
Dr. Sophie C. Wong, also one of the organizers of the Apology for the Chinese Exclusion Act Committee, stated that, "We are an open society and we express our mistakes so that they can be historical markers and ensure that we not commit the mistakes again. That's the way our Constitution works. Today is a victory for our democratic process by reaffirming our government's commitment to protecting the civil rights of all of us - and not excluding anyone on account of race or ethnic origin."
The following organizations joined CACA/GSGVL in support of SJR 23 and SCR 122: County of Los Angeles, Chinese American Citizens Alliance/Greater San Gabriel Valley Lodge, American and Chinese World War II Memorial Monument Association, Joint Chinese University Alumni Association of Southern California, Association for Preserving Historical Accuracy of Foreign Invasions in China, Chew Lun Association, Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of San Diego, Confucius Institute at San Diego State University, and the San Diego Chinese American Association.
The City of Monterey Park and the Chinese Consolidated Association of Los Angeles also passed resolutions in support for Congressional apologies.
The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was the first federal law ever passed that legalized discrimination against a specific group -- the Chinese -- solely on the basis of race or nationality. This historic act, repealed 61 years later in 1943, continued to adversely affect many generations of Chinese Americans.
California not only strongly lobbied Congress to pass the Chinese Exclusion Act, it was the first state to enact anti-Chinese constitutional provisions and legislation that increased restrictions and hardships on the Chinese in California.
Although Congress and California has previously issued apologies to other minorities, the Chinese Americans never received an apology from Congress nor from the California Legislature, even though Chinese Americans were similarly adversely affected. Congress issued apologies to Japanese Americans (1988), Native Hawaiians (1993), African Americans (2008, 2009) and Native Americans (2010); the State of California issued apologies for Mexican Repatriation (2005), as well as apologies to Italian Americans (2010), Filipino Americans (2011), and Japanese Americans (2013).
This initiative moves forward the process to have Congress and the State of California adopt resolutions of apology so that democracy, justice, and equality for all of citizens can be achieved, and to strengthen the diversity that contributed to the Country's and the State's economic, cultural, technological, academic, and political growth.
SJR 23 and SCR 122 will proceed to be processed for approval by the California State Assembly.
Read Senator Huff's explanation at: http://district29.cssrc.us/content/huff-wants-full-apology-treatment- ... -americans
Read about SJR 23 bill analysis at: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/13-14/bill/sen/sb_0001-0050/sjr_23_cfa_ ... floor.html
Betty Tom Chu
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