Beijing: The US House of Representatives has passed a resolution apologising for a discriminating law passed in 1882 that targeted Chinese migrants.
In a voice vote, the House passed the resolution Monday that formally expressed regret for the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 that discriminated against people of Chinese origin in the US, China Daily reported Tuesday.
It was approved in the Senate in October last year. The act was the first and the only federal law in US history that excluded a single group of people from immigration on no basis other than their race.
It explicitly banned Chinese workers from migrating and existing residents from naturalisation and voting.
It was later expanded several times to apply to all people of Chinese descent, each time imposing increasingly severe restrictions on immigration and naturalisation.
"Today (Monday), the House made history when both chambers of Congress officially and formally acknowledged the ugly and un-American nature of laws that targeted Chinese immigrants," said Congresswoman Judy Chu, the only member of Chinese descent, and who introduced the bill.
The resolution was applauded by Congress leaders.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said it "reiterates our commitment to equal rights for all Americans, regardless of race, now and in the future".
Mike Honda, chair emeritus of Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said the resolution was an "opportunity to learn from our mistakes".
More than 100,000 Chinese lived in the US around the turn of the 19th century. They were recruited "to work as cheap labour to do the most dangerous work laying the tracks" on the transcontinental railroad, Honda said.
They "strengthened our nation's infrastructure, only to be persecuted when their labour was seen as competition and the dirtiest work was done", he said.
Haipei Shue, president of the National Council of Chinese Americans, said it was "a great day for Chinese Americans".
First Published: Tuesday, June 19, 2012, 15:40