california should apologize to chinese immigrants

In California, Assemblyman Paul Fong is promoting legislation that would lead to the first-ever government apology to Chinese Americans for historical persecution, abuse, and discrimination: California should apologize for persecution of Chinese immigrants, legislator says.

You could say that a large party of early California was built on the backs of Chinese Americans -- farm fields, mines, the transcontinental railroad. For their efforts, they were rewarded with special taxes, forced out of towns and denied rights to own property, marry whites and attend public schools.

Fong, the grandson of a Chinese immigrant who was interned at Angel Island, says his goal is to eventually convince the federal government to also issue an apology, and then legislate redress for the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, which specifically barred Chinese immigrants from the U.S.

The resolution, ACR 42, states: The "Legislature deeply regrets the enactment of past discriminatory laws and constitutional provisions which resulted in the persecution of Chinese living in California, which forced them to live in fear of unjust prosecutions on baseless charges, and which unfairly prevented from earning a living."

If he gets the state apology, Fong will seek federal redress for the people interned in camps that operated from 1910 to 1942 at Angel Island. More here: Calif. lawmaker seeks apology for Chinese.

It should be noted that redress movements are rarely successful. Efforts for redress for the enslavement of African Americans, and the massacre and displacement of Native Americans, have been in circulation for years.

But at this point, it isn't really about the money -- it's symbolic. An official apology from the government would mean acknowledgement and recognition for the injustices endured by early Chinese immigrants. It would mean public education, and not allowing that history to go buried. It would mean justice.

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