75 years after Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed in this country, Governor Inslee and some state legislators want to bring back Chinese Exclusion Act once more.
Governor Jay Inslee issued a statement on Friday, Jan. 4th , and placed passing I-1000 by the Legislature on high priority in the 2019 session. I-1000, an Initiative to the Legislature, intends to repeal I-200, a voter passed Washington State Civil Rights Act. I-200 passed in 1998 with nearly 59% of the vote of the people. It won 38 of the state’s 39 counties and almost carried King County as well.
I-200 bans discrimination and preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin at government institutions. It stopped UW’s 30 years long history of considering race and ethnicity in college admission. One year after I-200 was passed, Asian American students planning to enroll in the Fall 1999 freshman class increased six percent. Now, almost 1 in 4 students at UW are Asian Americans. Seattle Times recently reported that UW campus in Bothell was “among the highest in the U.S. for its student body that demographically reflects the state’s share of black young adults” and “The UW campuses in Seattle and Tacoma also earned high nods for black student enrollment”. I-200 clearly promotes diversity at state colleges.
OMWBE issued a report on the economic impact of minority businesses as a result of I-200, and data in the report showed that “current” percentage of OMWBE certified Asian American firms increased from 15% in 1997, the year before I-200 was passed, to 25.8%, Black American firms declined from 15.6% to 12.2%, Hispanic firms increased from 9.2% to 9.7%. Why did the percentage of certified Asian American and Hispanic firms increased after I-200 became law? Did preferential treatment hurt some minority firms? As Chief Justice Roberts once said “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”
A Center for Equal Opportunity report had the following findings
- “Caltech does not have race-based affirmative action in admissions. Over the years there have been more and more Asian Americans admitted and enrolled at the school. Asian-American students routinely constitute more than 40 percent of the Caltech student body.”
- “MIT has long used race as a factor in admissions. The number of Asian Americans at MIT was increasing but came to a halt in the 1990s, peaking at 29 percent of the student body. That number has stalled since then at about 26 percent.”
- “At Harvard University, which also uses race in admissions, Asian Americans as a percentage of all undergraduates sharply increased to 21 percent and then significantly dropped. It has stayed at roughly 17 percent since then.”
If I-1000 is passed by the Legislature against people’s will, the number of Asian American students at UW will definitely tank to below current level. Asian American families will likely be the ones most hurt.
I-1000 is clearly anti-Asian. Proponents of I-1000 have said that Asians are not “people of color” because they are doing so well. Bob Hasegawa called Asian Americans who support I-200 “privileged”. Both Senator Lisa Wellman and Patty Kuderer, who support I-1000, have told their constituents that “Life isn’t always fair” when Asian parents raised concerns about their kids’ future if I-1000 were passed by the Legislature.
Ironically, December 17th ,2018 marked 75th anniversary of the Repeal of Chinese Exclusion Act. Signed into law on May 6, 1882, Chinese Exclusion Act was the first law implemented to prevent all members of a specific ethnic or national group from immigrating. Chinese Exclusion Act prohibited all immigration of Chinese laborers. As a result, by 1920, only some 61,000 Chinese Americans remained in the continental United States. In Tacoma, a decade-long search for descendants of the Tacoma Chinese has yield none. Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 later expanded to include all other Asian groups by 1924. Known as Asian Exclusion Act of 1924, the federal law prohibited all Asians from immigrating to America.
Without a doubt, I-1000 is a 21st Century Chinese Exclusion Act. A vote for I-1000 is a vote for a 21st Century Chinese Exclusion Act. We really hope that Governor Inslee and legislators can avoid repeating the mistake this country made over 100 years ago, and embrace Asian Americans, not exclude Asian Americans.
Please contact Governor Inslee’s office or your local legislators and tell them that you do not want a 21st Chinese Exclusion Act. We can’t let that dark history repeat under our watch.