After her speech, in a grand display of publicly-expressed idiocy, Haley told reporters, "We’ve never in the history of this country passed any laws [sic] or done anything based on race or religion."
The word country entered into English in the mid-1200s from the Old French meaning district, native land. The word race entered English from the Middle French in the 1500s meaning people of common descent and derived from razza meaning race, breed, lineage, family.
Likely, Haley spoke euphemistically along these lines — Never in the history of Congress has Congress passed any law against any people. She did so either because she has poor English-speaking skills or she meant to deceive listeners.
Nikki Haley is what happens when an ignorant child of immigrants grows up and becomes a stupid politician.
Before the Constitution, the founding people who came to call themselves Americans passed laws on religion (see: CHRISTIANS FOUNDED AMERICA, NOT ATHEISTS, NOR JEWS, NOR HINDUS, NOR BUDDHISTS, NOR MUSLIMS). As well, Congress has a long history of passing laws against people precisely because of the chief defining characteristics of those people.
The Chinese Exclusion Act was the first law implemented to prevent a specific ethnic group from immigrating to the United States.
And then there was that whole Dred Scott USSC decision, numerous laws in support of slavery, the Missouri Compromise and so forth.
In OBAMA SAYS AMERICANS DON'T HAVE RELIGIOUS TESTS FOR IMMIGRANTS AFTER SIGNING INTO LAW PREFERENTIAL RELIGIOUS TESTS FOR IMMIGRANTS. SPEAKER RYAN DENOUNCES DONALD TRUMP'S PLAY TO MAKE AMERICANS SAFER BY RESTRICTING DANGEROUS IMMIGRATION, I revealed to you the history of the Lautenberg Amendment, which gave preferential status to refugees from the former Soviet Union and Southeast Asia based on their religions. In short, the law established a religious test for immigration!
With passage of the omnibus spending bill signed into law by President Obama himself on on January 17th, 2014, Obama re-authorized the Lautenberg Amendment to give a religious preference test for Jews, Christians, Baha’is, and other religious minorities seeking to flee Iran.
So yes, Congress has a rich history of passing laws based on both race and religion.
Here are notable acts of Congress doing exactly what Nikki Haley, the daughter of immigrants claimed Americans never have done:
The Page Act of 1875 (Sect. 141, 18 Stat. 477, 1873-March 1875) was the first immigration law from Congress. It prohibited the entry of immigrants considered as undesirable — any individual from Asia who was coming to America to be a contract laborer. Imposed a fine of up to $2,000 and maximum jail sentence of one year upon anyone who tried to bring a person from China, Japan, or any oriental country to the United States "without their free and voluntary consent, for the purpose of holding them to a term of service."
The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 prohibited Chinese naturalization thus blocking Chinese immigrants from ever becoming citizens. Not only did this act from Congress restricted immigration of Chinese laborers for 10 years, but also provided deportation procedures for illegal Chinese.
The Alien Contract Labor Law Act of 1885 prohibited the importation and migration of foreigners and aliens to perform labor in the United States while under contract.
With The Geary Act of 1892, Congress expanded the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 with new, prohibiting requirements. The law required all Chinese residents of the United States to carry a resident permit, a sort of internal passport. Failure to carry the permit at all times was punishable by deportation or a year of hard labor. In addition, Chinese were not allowed to bear witness in court, and could not receive bail in habeas corpus proceedings.
In Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), by a 7–2 decision, the United States Supreme Court justices decided that Dred Scott was still a slave in spite of having lived in slave-free territories precisely because no one of African ancestry could claim citizenship in the United States, and thus could not bring suit in federal court.