The Chinese Exclusion Act

Documentary | English | 114 minutes


The utterly shameful and blatantly racist Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 shut down all Chinese immigration to the United States. It also blocked Chinese living in the U.S. from ever becoming citizens. Chinese laborers were recruited to help build the transcontinental railroad. Once the railroad was completed, the Chinese, who were hard working and paid less, were considered a threat to the livelihood of white Americans. The employment situation became more dire during the post-Civil War depression. When the law was enacted it was intended to be in place for 10 years. It lasted for 60 years when it was finally repealed in 1943. After all,  World War II needed the efforts of every able-bodied person.  

Major Participants:
Hoon Lee (Narrator) / David Lei (Community Advocate) / Kevin Starr (Historian) / Erika Lee (Historian)
Why Stream This Film?
 As we debate today the need to toughen our immigration laws, we should all revisit one of the darkest chapters in American history, the enactment of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882. It was intended to last 10 years. It lasted 60!
  • IMDb Score: 7.7/10
THE CHINESE EXCLUSION ACT (FILM) is a sobering and eye-opening look at a chapter in American history that not only reveals the way our nation did wrong by people who helped build it but also has clear parallels to today’s issues with immigration.
Hanh Nguyen


THE CHINESE EXCLUSION ACT (FILM) was in the works well before the election of Donald Trump. But it feels as if it were made for a moment when border walls and immigration controls are topics of daily conversation. Against fear and racism, tenaciousness and eloquence were no match.
Mike Hale

The New York Times

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