Skip to comments.May 26, 1924: Coolidge signs stringent immigration law
Posted on 05/26/2006 9:09:52 AM PDT by fgoodwin
May 26, 1924: Coolidge signs stringent immigration law
On this day in 1924, President Calvin Coolidge signs into law the Comprehensive Immigration Act, the most stringent immigration policy up to that time in the nations history.
The new law reflected the desire of Americans to isolate themselves from the world after fighting the terrible First World War in Europe, a war that exacerbated growing fears of the spread of communist ideas. It also reflected the pervasiveness of racial discrimination in American society at the time. Many Americans saw the enormous influx of largely unskilled, uneducated immigrants during the early 1900s as causing unfair competition for jobs and land. Under the new law, immigration remained open to those with a college education and/or special skills, but entry was denied to Mexicans, and disproportionately to Eastern and Southern Europeans and Japanese. At the same time, the legislation allowed for more immigration from Northern European nations such as Britain, Ireland and Scandinavian countries. A quota was set that limited immigration to two percent of any given nations residents already in the U.S. as of 1890, a provision designed to maintain Americas largely Northern European racial composition. In 1927, the two percent rule was eliminated and a cap of 150,000 total immigrants annually was established.
The law particularly angered Japan, which had forged a Gentlemens Agreement with U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907, which included more liberal immigration quotas for Japan. By 1924, strong U.S. agricultural and labor interests--particularly from California, which had already passed its own exclusionary laws against Japanese immigrants--favored the more restrictive legislation signed by Coolidge. The Japanese government viewed the American law as an insult, and protested by declaring May 26 a national day of humiliation in Japan. The law fanned anti-American sentiment in Japan, inspiring a Japanese citizen to commit suicide outside the American embassy in Tokyo in protest.
Despite becoming known for such isolationist legislation, Coolidge also established the Statue of Liberty as a national monument in 1924.
Talk about dumb...
What does this have to do with JAPANESEINTERNMENT?
Americans have the RIGHT - DUTY to control their own borders & immigration policy, no matter who it p*sses off.
So, silly and useless gestures of symbolic protest didn't start in the 60's after all.
I did not know that Vicente Fox was Japanese...
Mayor Cermak of Chicago was killed by one of Zangaro's bullets, and he was executed within weeks of the crime. He may have expected to be killed on the spot...the theory is that it was a case of "suicide by police." A real loser who could have changed history in ways we'll never know.
Lets not pretend this law was the greatest thing in the world. I think it would have benefitted America to let in more Jews and other minorities running away from Europe at the time. I'm sure most of them would have become patriotic Americans and spent their money in America. This situation is almost the opposite of our current immigration problem.
Nothing to do with Japanese internment -- my bad.
Actually, I just posted the article w/o comment, so I never said it was the greatest thing in the world.
I just thought a remembrance was timely, given the current debate over illegal immigration.
If your comment wasn't directed specifically to me, I apologize.
Nope, not directly at you.
If I'm correct, it sets the quota for each nation to be 2% of the numbers of that particular ethnic group already living in the US as at 1890. Quite a nasty piece of law. Were it still in effect today most engineers from India or Chinese world would be disqualified to immigrate and it would be a cakewalk for the trailer trash in Britain or Germany to apply for a visa.
But it produced something good - not in America. It was thanks to the 1924 Immigration Act that it became possible for Australia to experience post-WWII boom of immigration from European countries other than Britain - such as Italians, Germans, Yugoslavs, Greeks. They chose Australia because of the quota in the US. They and their descendents comprise about 15% of the Australian population today.
I understand that in the late 1950s with the rise of prosperity of European countries after WWII the desire to immigrate to America waned. Now if I'm correct does it mean that suppose only 100 people bothered to migrate from Britain it means immigration from the "full" quota countries like Greece will need to be cut as well?
This was 1924. This was Five Years before the Stock Market Crash. The Recession had already spread across the farm lands of America, and would soon spread to the cities. In a couple years it would become a full blown Depression.
Do you still think an influx of unskilled labor with no resources would have been a benefit? I can't see how - unless you think a revolution would have helped.
But that immigration law considered your ethnic group rather than skill level. Under that law you would have a larger chance of immigration if you were an unemployed whitetrash from Cromwell than if you were a Jewish engineer living in Porto - a difference between Briton vis-a-vis Jewish and/or Portuguese quota.
Are you sure you still want them? It means under that law the door for football/soccer hooligans from England and Germany would be wide open.
I read stuff into Dem's post that isn't actually there.
It's OK. I agree immigration must have a greater limit, but we should choose migrants according to their criteria - race could be a matter but it should not be the utmost one.
If we base immigration entirely based on race we could well be importing George Galloways (a Commie, but an Anglo-Celtic white) rather than Dinesh d'Souzas (an Indian, but a conservative). And it would spell disaster for the US.
My point was just that immigration laws aren't good just because they are immigration laws. If there was some mad Stalinesque dictator ruling Mexico, there would be an excuse for all Mexicans coming here. Unfortunately the law from Coolidge's day didn't take this possibility into account.
You're right. If anyone disagreed with you, they were wrong.