The newly established Center for Immigration Law, Policy, and Justice launched this semester’s series of events with a well-attended screening of “The Chinese Exclusion Act” a documentary film by Ric Burns and Li-Shin Yu. The film examined the 1882 law that prohibited Chinese workers from coming to America and precluded Chinese nationals already in the country from obtaining U.S. Citizenship. The film also discussed stereotypes and the cultural atmosphere in the US surrounding the enactment of the act.
Following the film, a panel discussion led by Dean David Lopez, Professor Sahar Aziz, and Professor Rose Cuison Villazor, unpacked the contemporary relevance of the law today. The Rutgers community engaged in an enlightening discourse over delicious Chinese food. Parallels surrounding the enactment of the Chinese Exclusion Act and President Trump’s Travel Ban were drawn. Perhaps the most salient concept of the discussion was the cyclical exclusionary hostile environments or “Exclusionary bubbles” encountered by different immigrant groups in America. Although the targeted immigrant group and society may change over time, the essence of our country’s past mistakes remain. As “The Land of the free” unfortunately rejects new comers in similar ways over and over again.
This successful event was possible thanks to the CILPJ’s co-sponsors which are The Center for Gender, Sexuality, Law and Policy, The Center for Security, Race, and Rights, The Office of Public Interest and Pro Bono, and APALSA.