Oppdatert: 02.04.2018

An Outline of Immigration to the U.S.A.


Info: The information given below is merely a vain effort to highlight some of the most important legislative keystones in the history of immigration to the U.S.A.
My primary sources have been:
Date: May, 2005

1790: The 1st Naturalization Act: Offered citizenship to any "free, white person" who resided for two years within the United States and at least one year in the state where he sought admission"
Kewords: “Any free, white person / 2 years”

1795: The 2nd Naturalization Act: Increased the period of residence from 2 to at least 5 years. Three years before admission applicants had to declare his intention to become a citizen.
Keywords: “Any free, white person / 5 years/ oath”

1798: The 3rd Naturalization Act: Actually an amendment to the 1795 Act. The mandatory period of residence was further increased from 5 to 14 yrs - and a declaration of intention had to be given 5 years before admission.
Keywords: “Any free, white person / 14 years/ oath”

1802: President Jefferson reinstated the 1795 act
Keywords: “Any free, white person / 5 years/ oath”

1852: California: The Foreign Miners’ Tax required a monthly payment of $3 from every foreign miner who did not desire to become a citizen. According to the Immigration Act of 1795 only "white" people (i.e. Caucasians) could become citizens, therefore the $3 a month tax of California was intended to limit the number of Chinese in California.
Keywords: the 1848 goldrush - exclusion of Chinese miners to the benefit of Caucasian labour.

1854: The California Supreme Court declared "the testimony of Chinese, blacks, mulattos and Native Americans against whites" to be invalid. This racist decision was indirectly an attack on free immigration of "non-whites" to the state.
Keywords: Racially biased legislation seeking to restrict Asian immigration.

1855: California: The legislature passed an "Act to discourage the immigration to this state of persons who cannot become citizens thereof". The law introduced a landing tax of $50 for each passenger ineligible to naturalized citizenship.
Keywords: Another example of legislature seeking Chinese exclusion.

1859: California: Chinese excluded from San Francisco public schools. One year later the California legislature established a system of segregated schools.
Keywords: Still another example of legislature seeking (especially) Chinese exclusion.

1862: California: Law levying tax of $2.50/month on all Chinese residing in the state. Immediately repealed by the California Supreme Court after the Ling-Sing decision.

1868: The 14th Amendment to the Constitution: “All persons born or naturalized in the US and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the US and of the state wherein they reside”
Keywords: Members of all ethnic groups got the right to become US citizens.
Apart from being a political instrument during Reconstruction the 14th amendment did not gain momentum until the 1950s and '60s (the civil rights movement)

1870: The Civil Rights Act (federal) well known for its protection of blacks “against discriminatory state acts" also contained language and provisions for civil rights for the Chinese, especially with regard to the racially biased taxation rules mentioned above. But such legal guarantees had little or no effect on what happened in society.

1875: Supreme Court declared that regulation of US immigration is the responsibility of the Federal Government.
Immigration Act: “no prostitutes or convicts” were allowed to immigrate

1880: California Civil Code “prohibited inter-racial marriages between whites and Negroes, Mulattos, Mongolians, etc.

1882: Chinese Exclusion Act “bans Chinese workers from the US, and prohibits them from becoming naturalized citizens. Angel Island is set up in California. (ref. Ellis Island in New York)

1885/-87 Alien Contract Labor laws prohibited certain labourers from immigrating to the United States.

1891 The Federal Government assumed the task of inspecting, admitting, rejecting, and processing all immigrants seeking admission to the U.S.

1892 A Federal US immigration station opened on Ellis Island in New York Harbor primarily to control the immigration from Europe.

1898 The Philippines are given from Spain to the US. Filipinos need no visas for the US

1902: The 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act is extended for 10 years

1904 The 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act is extended indefinitely...

1906: San Francisco school board demands that all Asian students (apart from Japanese) must attend segregated schools

1907: The Immigration Act of 1907 reorganized the states bordering Mexico into a Mexican Border District to stem the flow of immigrants into the U.S. - and in addition it “extended the restrictions of earlier acts”
"The Gentleman’s Agreement" (Roosevelt): Japan promised to curb the emigration of Japanese laborers and the United States would withhold from the creation of an outright exclusion law similar to the one created for the Chinese.

1909: A Curiosity: The Halladjian Decision. Federal authorities classified Armenians as "Asiatics" and denied naturalized citizenship to Armenian immigrants. But shortly afterward, in the Halladjian decision, a U.S. circuit court of appeals ruled that Armenians were Caucasian (white) because of their ethnography, history and appearance. When California four years later passed its alien land law (see 1913 below), the restrictions imposed did not apply to Armenians!
Keywords: “Armenians defined as Asians - and redefined as Caucasians" (it isn't that easy...)

1913: The California Alien Land Act “ bars aliens, mostly Japanese farmers, from owning land". Further restrictions added in 1921 and 1923. Repealed in 1948
Keywords: Japanese farmers simply lost their farms because the were...Japanese!

1917: The Immigration Act of 1917 (The Barred Zone Act) “barred immigration from a large geographical zone consisting mostly of Asian regions”
The Arizona Alien Land Law: see the California Alien Land Law above.

1921: The Immigration Act of 1921 “introduced a quota system. Based on the 1910 census, nations were each allowed an annual quota of 3% of that nationality’s U.S. population thereby keeping the majority the majority, the minority the minority”
Washington + Louisiana introduced Alien Land Laws (see 1913)
Ladies' Agreement: Japan bars the emigration of picture brides in the "Ladies' Agreement." The picture bride system, according to Mr. Yen Le Espiritu, was a form of “arranged marriage facilitated by the exchange of photographs.” A Japanese or Korean immigrant man would look at a photograph of a potential wife back home and, if he “liked what he saw,” send for her to join him in the United States. Some Japanese and Korean women volunteered to become picture brides, seeing migration to the States as an adventure as well as a chance to escape the restricted life women frequently led in their homelands. (source)

1922: The Cable Act: “US women marrying aliens ineligible to citizenship lost their US citizenship"
The New Mexico Alien Land Law (see 1913)

1924: The Immigration Act of 1924 (The National Origins Act) “amends the 1921 act by demanding a 2% rather than a 3% quota based on the 1890 census. Bars entry to any ‘alien ineligible to citizenship’, which effectively ended Asian immigration until after WWII (except Filipinos!!!) - Repealed in 1965

1934: The Tydings-McDuffie Act “made the Philippines independent" - and barred Filipino immigration (limited to 50 annually)

1940: The Alien Registration Act: All aliens (i.e. non-US citizens) in the U.S.A. had to register with the Government and receive an Alien Registration Receipt Card (this resembles today's "green card").

1942: Executive Order 9066 sanctions the ‘relocation’ of 110,000 Japanese Americans into 10 US internment camps

1943: Immigration Act of 1943 “completely repeals the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, allowing Chinese to become naturalized citizens. However, only 105 Chinese a year are allowed to immigrate (the law reflects the US alliance with China during WWII)

1945: American-Japanese internment camps finally closed

1946: The Filipino Naturalization Act “allows immigrants from the Philippines + India to become naturalized citizens at a ratio of 100 per county"
1948: The Displaced Persons Act: “3500 Chinese can remain in the US because of the Civil War”

1948: The California Civil Code of 1880 + the Alien Land Act of 1913: repealed

1950: The Internal Security Act: Made the Alien Registration Receipt Card (see 1940) highly valuable. Such cards were replaced with what is currently known as the "green card".

1952: The McCarran-Walter Act finally “removes all racial criteria for naturalization. It creates a quota system which imposes limits on a per-country basis. Quotas are still small, but spouses and children are allowed as non-quota immigrants. Communists are barred”

1965: The Nationality Act “abolishes the National Origins Act of 1924 and its rigid and racially biased quota system".

1968: US immigration discrimination based on race, place of birth, sex and residence is permanently abolished. It thereby officially abolished restrictions on Oriental US immigration.The number of immigrants from the Western Hemisphere is restricted to 120,000
The number of Asian immigrants rises significantly

1976: The last remains of preferential treatment for residents of the Western Hemisphere are eliminated

1980: Act establishing a general policy governing the admission of refugees

1986: The 1986 Act Focused on curtailing illegal US immigration. It legalized hundred of thousands of illegal immigrants. It also introduced the employer sanctions program which fines employers for hiring illegal workers. It also passed tough laws to prevent bogus marriage fraud. (source: Rapidimmigration)

1988: The Civil Liberties Act “apologizes to the 110,000 Japanese Americans who were detained in internment camps during the Second World War".

1990: Immigration Act “caps total immigration at 700,000. Each nation has a quota of 25,000 in addition to refugees.
"Established an annual limit for certain categories of immigrants. It was aimed at helping U.S. businesses attract skilled foreign workers; thus, it expanded the business class categories to favor persons who can make educational, professional or financial contributions. It created the Immigrant Investor Program." (source: Rapidimmigration)
‘Employment-Creating’ immigrants investing $1 million in a US concern are immediately admitted, representing a clear class bias - and a change from race to class!

2001: Based on the terrorist attack against New York and Washington September 11 the Patriot Act was passed, which surely will affect immigration in different ways.

oppdatert 02.04.2018
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