Posted on December 19, 2023

Biden Commemorates the 80th Anniversary of the Repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act

Kimmy Yam, NBC, December 18, 2023

President Joe Biden commemorated the 80th anniversary of the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act, which barred Chinese laborers from entering the country.

In a White House official statement released Sunday, Biden said the legislation, enacted in 1882, was a measure that “weaponized our immigration system to discriminate against an entire ethnic group.”

It was the first major law restricting immigration into the United States; it was repealed in 1943.

“For generations, people of Chinese heritage have enriched our country — from Chinese laborers who did backbreaking work to build the transcontinental railroad in the 1800s to the Chinese Americans who serve in our military, to the authors, artists, scientists, entrepreneurs, and scholars of today,” Biden said in the statement. “We honor them, and all immigrants, who continue to make extraordinary contributions to our nation.”

The statement comes after Asian American lawmakers introduced resolutions last week in both the House and Senate, also commemorating the repeal’s 80th anniversary.

The Chinese Exclusion Act, signed into law by then-president Chester A. Arthur, put a 10-year moratorium on Chinese labor immigration. It additionally prevented Chinese immigrants from becoming naturalized citizens.


“The Act, along with racism and xenophobia in other parts of American life, was part of the anti-Chinese “Driving Out” era which included the Rock Springs and Hells Canyon massacres,” Biden wrote in the statement {snip}

The legislation, which was set to expire after a decade, was then extended through the Geary Act. And while the measure was repealed on Dec. 17, 1943 with the Magnuson Act, immigration was still restrictive: A quota was established, allowing just 105 visas for immigrants from China. {snip}