U.S. Immigration Restrictions of the 1920s

After World War I, America faced hard times so that the immigrant became the scapegoat for hard times. A tight national-origins policy was instituted in 1921 as a temporary measure, and total immigration was limited to about 350,000 per year, with immigration from each country in a given year limited to 3 percent of all nationals from the country who were living in the United States during the 1910 census. The system was made permanent with the National Origins Act of 1924, now based on the ethnic composition of the United States as reflected in the 1920 census, with entry limited to 2 percent of the number of people living in the U.S. (Chan 55). The law thus reduced the total number of immigrants each year to 150,000. The object of the law was also to favor certain kinds of immigrants and to keep out others. More immigrants were permitted from western Europe and fewer from southern and eastern Europe, and Asians were totally excluded, primarily to prohibit Chinese, Japanese, and Filipinos from acquiring U.S. citizenship. These restrictions would be relaxed after World War II.

The experience of different Asian groups differed from that of other Asian groups, and the Japanese experience can be differentiated from the Chinese on the basis of family formation, among other criteria. The immigrant experience in America has been varied, and those who are of very different ethnic or racial background have had a more difficult time as immigrants than those who fit into the



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