Gene Wu pulled on the internet’s heart strings with an emotional speech last week that quickly went viral. In it, Wu debated against Senate Bill 4, which will ban “sanctuary” jurisdictions in Texas.

Wu, a Chinese-American raised in Sharpstown, is now the Texas Representative for the same area he grew up in; District 137 covers parts of Alief, Chinatown, Little India and other neighborhoods near what is now the PlazAmericas Mall. He delivered tearful remarks on Wednesday, April 26, explaining to the Texas State House of Representatives how the issue affects not just him and his own constituents, but all Texans.

“This topic is painful for me because I’m an immigrant. My parents are immigrants. I represent a district filled with immigrants,” he said. “Some are here as refugees, some are here as citizens, some are here without papers, but they’re all my people.”

Approved by a 93-54 vote a day after Wu’s speech, the most recent update of Senate Bill 4 will allow police officers to question the immigration status of those they detain, while the original version only permitted them to inquire about an individual’s citizenship during an arrest. 

In Wu's statement, he challenged Texas lawmakers to recall the Chinese-Exclusion Act of 1882 that provided a 10-year moratorium on Chinese labor immigration and placed new requirements on those who already immigrated to the U.S., stating it was created “out of fear…out of hatred and misunderstanding.” For further emphasis, he cited the imprisonment of Japanese-Americans during WWII in the conclusion of his argument.

“Japanese-Americans were rounded up and sent to concentration camps across the United States; did you know that?” he asked. “Do you know of any Germans or German-Americans that were rounded up? They weren’t—because Japanese-Americans were obviously different, they looked different, they sounded different. They were obviously alien, even though they were Americans.”

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