The Chinese Exclusion Act
In 1882, an American president signed into law a piece of legislation that for the first and only time in American history singled out by name a single race and nationality for exclusion. The Chinese Exclusion Act barred nearly all Chinese nationals from entering the United States and made it illegal for Chinese people already in the US to become citizens. It remained in effect for 61 years. Ric Burns has a new documentary about the Chinese Exclusion Act and historian Erika Lee is featured in it. Marco Werman talks to Lee about the anti-Chinese sentiments that laid the groundwork for the act and its lingering meaning for Chinese Americans.