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Chinese immigrants have faced discrimination for decades

When one hears the term discrimination today, one may picture the buses used to transport the unaccompanied minor children who recently entered through the southern borders of this country. However, starting back in the 1800s, there has been documented evidence that one ethnic population of immigrants has faced extreme examples of discrimination. Today, many of these Chinese immigrants may call North Carolina home.

In 1882, the United States passed what was called the Exclusion Act of 1882. This piece of legislation had the effect of prohibiting immigrants from one Asian country of ever becoming legal citizens. It also restricted immigration from that nation and called for every current immigrant -- and even those born in this country -- to carry the proper identification at all times under threat of deportation if caught without it. Even though many so-called Chinatowns had already popped up, this Act solidified these isolated pockets of immigrant residents.

It took many years before this Act was finally repealed in 1943, but the discrimination this group faced was slow to diminish. Even today, there are instances of discrimination as whole sections of these former Chinatowns are forcing the traditional Asian families out in order to attract non-Asian buyers and businesses. However, there are new waves of undocumented Chinese nationals seeking refuge from persecution in their home country.

While these ethnic-based communities often offer a type of asylum for undocumented immigrants, they can also, at times, prevent these new arrivals from finding ways to assimilate into American culture. Immigrants take many risks when seeking a new life here, and they deserve the same opportunities provided to everyone else. If any non-native North Carolina resident believes that he or she has been a victim of discrimination, one is ensured of the right to seek assistance from nearby resources who are well-versed in current immigration laws and state provisions.

Source: The Huffington Post, "How Racism Created America's Chinatowns", Braden Goyette, Nov. 11, 2014

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