Film explores Chinese Exclusion Act as US immigration 'DNA'

Film explores Chinese Exclusion Act as US immigration 'DNA'
In this May 15, 2018 photo, filmmakers Li-Shin Yu, left, and Ric Burns discuss their new PBS documentary "The Chinese Exclusion Act," during an interview, Tuesday May 15, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

NEW YORK (AP) — The filmmakers of a documentary about the Chinese Exclusion Act say if viewers end up with a sense of deja vu between the film’s subject and current events, that’s pretty much the point.

Ric Burns and Li-Shin Yu say the American public should be more aware of the act, a law from 1882 that barred Chinese people from coming to the United States.

It was the first and only immigration act keeping people from a specific country from coming here. After its initial enactment for a 10-year period in 1882, it was regularly renewed and made permanent in 1904. It was finally repealed in 1943.

Burns calls it the “DNA of American immigration policy.”

“The Chinese Exclusion Act” airs on the PBS television series, “American Experience,” on Tuesday.