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House Officially Apologizes to Chinese Americans

JudyChu2.jpgUpdate, 7 p.m: The House of Representatives has officially apologized to Chinese Americans for the Chinese Exclusion Act and other laws that discriminated against them.

Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., main sponsor of the bill, said that Congress has approved only four other apologies in the past 25 years. Chu's grandfather came to the U.S. in 1904.

"It is for my grandfather and for all Chinese Americans who were told for six decades by the U.S. government that the land of the free wasn't open to them, that we must pass this resolution," Chu said on the House floor. "We must finally and formally acknowledge these ugly laws that were incompatible with America's founding principles.  We must express the sincere regret that Chinese Americans deserve."

Original post: American history has its dark chapters, and the House of Representatives will vote tonight on whether to apologize for one of them.

If approved, the House will officially apologize for a litany of laws that "adversely affected people of Chinese origin in the United States because of their ethnicity." The most notable among such laws was the Chinese Exclusion Act, first passed in 1882, which restricted Chinese immigration to the U.S. during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The exclusion act, among other immigration rules, "enshrined in law the exclusion of the Chinese from the democratic process and the promise of American freedom," the House bill reads. It also notes that the Chinese Exclusion Act undermined the U.S.-Chinese alliance during World War II, as it was used by America's enemies as evidence of anti-Chinese sentiment.

According to the bill, its passage can't be used to make claims against the U.S. government for damages.

The apology bill is sponsored by Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., the chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (which has its own PAC) and the first Chinese American woman in the House.

The House will vote on the measure tonight under suspension of rules, meaning it needs a two-thirds majority to pass.

Congress has issued apologies before, including for slavery, Japanese internment camps, mistreatment of Native Americans and the "illegal overthrow" of Hawaii's kingdom.

(Photo: Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., is a main sponsor of a bill officially apologizing for anti-Chinese American laws. AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)

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