Day of Inclusion: Proclamation recognizes racist precedent set by 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act

The International Examiner May 19, 2017 0

Anti-Chinese riots in Seattle, February 7, 1886 as depicted in Harper’s magazine. • University of Washington Library, Special Collections

On May 6, the City of Seattle issued a proclamation recognizing the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act and the precedent it set for racist immigration policies in the United States. The proclamation also recognizes the contributions of immigrants and reaffirms the City’s acceptance of immigrants and refugees. Frank Irigon, CID community activist and board member of OCA Asian Pacific American Advocates—Greater Seattle, was instrumental in pushing through this proclamation.

The following is the full text of the proclamation, which was signed by all nine City Council members and Mayor Ed Murray.

City of Seattle Proclamation: Day of Inclusion

WHEREAS, on May 6, 1882, President Chester Arthur signed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which was the nation’s first law to prohibit immigration solely on the basis of ethnicity; and

WHEREAS, the Chinese Exclusion Act was based on racial hostility against Chinese, who were characterized as “unassimilable, vile heathens” and were blamed for lowering wages, taking away jobs, draining the economy, and endangering the American way of life; and

WHEREAS, the Chinese Exclusion Act, which was renewed in 1892, 1902 and made permanent in 1904, prevented Chinese laborers from entering the U.S. and denied Chinese a pathway to citizenship for more than 60 years; and

WHEREAS, subsequent legislation such as the 1892 Geary Act, which required all Chinese to register for and carry on their persons Certificates of Residence or risk imprisonment and deportation, set a precedent for future discriminatory registries of immigrants and descendants of immigrants; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Senate in 2011 and the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012 unanimously condemned the Chinese Exclusion Laws and “affirmed Congress’ commitment to preserve the civil rights and constitutional protections for all people;” and

WHEREAS, in 2015, the Seattle City Council unanimously adopted a resolution expressing regret for the anti-Chinese legislation passed by the Washington Territory and previous Seattle City Council’s; the resolution recognized the past and continuing contributions of the Chinese to Seattle and affirmed the City’s commitment to the civil rights of all people; and

WHEREAS, the City of Seattle reaffirms that we are open and welcoming to immigrants and refugees, who are integral to the life of our city; and

WHEREAS, on this 135th anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Act, we recognize the harm caused by racially discriminatory immigration measures and honor the contributions of all immigrants and refugees who have enriched our communities.


Related Story:

Seattle’s Anti-Chinese Race Riot—February 7, 1886: The Day Seattle Imploded

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