On December 16, 2018, a commemoration of the75th anniversary repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was held at the First Chinese Baptist Church in NYC Chinatown. It was sponsored by the Chinese American Citizens Alliance of Greater NY and AABANY. The entire text of the Chinese Exclusion Act was read, followed by a reading of the writings of Wong Chin Foo, a 19th-century activist who has been called “the first Chinese American,” protesting the Chinese Exclusion Act.
Experts point to the parallels between the political climate of the exclusion era and today: a close and contentious presidential election that stirred anti-immigrant sentiment; the growing economic anxiety of white Americans; and policies that would drastically shape the country’s immigration laws.
On Tuesday, February 21, AABANY co-sponsored a film screening and forum at the Museum of Chinese in America entitled, “Immigration, Exclusion and Acts of Civic Engagement.” The program included a screening of the documentary “Chinese Couplets” by Felicia Lowe, followed by an open forum discussing current immigration issues in the historical context of Chinese Exclusion and ways that the community can become engaged in response to the latest developments. Among the speakers was former Immigration and Nationality Law Committee Co-Chair Tsui Yee.
For an article about the program published in The World Journal, follow the link in the title. Below is a translation provided by Yuqing Tian, AABANY Legal Intern (Fall 2016-Winter 2017), and Government Service and Public Interest Committee Co-Chair Thalia Huang:
seminar on the topic of immigration was held in the Museum of Chinese
American (MOCA) on February 21, 2017. Xiaoan [Elizabeth] Ouyang, former president of
New York Chapter of the Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA-NY),
said that President Trump would bring great threat and panic to the immigrant
community. Ms. Ouyang recommended Chinese communities to apply for citizenship
as early as possible and that Chinese communities, by voting and protesting, can show
the US government that they will not be bullied.
film Dui Lian (Chinese Couplets), created by a Chinese-born independent
television producer Yonge Liu (Felicia Lowe) was shown
in MOCA on the 21st. The movie showed Chinese immigrants’ hardships
during the Chinese Exclusion Act period, by telling the true story of her
mother and herself. Liu’s grandfather used to go to Cuba for a living,
but his business failed. During the World War II, Liu’s grandmother
spent all their savings to get a counterfeit ID for Liu’s mother Jintao Lei,
who then traveled to the US via Zhongshan, Guangdong province. Lei changed
her name six times. Living under the stress of being deported, Lei finally made
her American dream come true by working hard. She finally told her niece and
daughter about her story.
Ms. Ouyang, Muzna Ansari, Immigration
Policy Manager of the New
York Immigration Coalition, MOCA co-founder Guowei
Chen, and immigration lawyer Cuixing Yu [Tsui Yee] also participated in the
discussion following the film, exploring how to unite the Chinese community and
to show our demands, under the panic caused by President Trump’s
Ms. Ouyang said that the attitude towards Chinese
community has changed since the 9/11 terrorist attack. The story of the 19-year-old
Chinese American soldier Yuhui Liu (Danny Chen), who was bullied
to death in the army, also promoted the Chinese immigrants’
civil right awareness.
“Now we are in a very critical moment, nearly half a million people who
are eligible apply for a green card should stand up to become citizens and
vote.” Ms. Ouyang indicated that people who voted for
Trump, thinking that he would not actually implement his campaign slogans but
instead mainly facilitate economic development, will be disappointed to see
that the number of international students will gradually decline, creating a
ripple effect that will undermine the US economy.
said she had many undocumented immigrant clients, who were very much in a
state of panic. Some were even afraid to participate in church activities
because of fear. “My grandfather came to the United States with a fake
identity. He was afraid that ICE would knock at the door and
deport him his entire life. I really want to tell
him not to be afraid.” Yu also reminded the public to be
cautious with immigration fraud.