Historical Highlights

The Immigration Act of 1924

April 12, 1924
The Immigration Act of 1924 Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives Representative Albert Johnson of Washington State served 20 years in the House of Representatives. He is one of the few individuals to serve on active duty status in the military while also serving as a Member of Congress.
On this date, the House passed the 1924 Immigration Act—a measure which was a legislative expression of the xenophobia, particularly towards eastern and southern European immigrants, that swept America in the decade of the 1920s. Authored by Representative Albert Johnson of Washington (Chairman of the House Immigration Committee), the bill passed with broad support from western and southern Representatives, by a vote of 323 to 71. “It has become necessary that the United States cease to become an asylum,” Representative Johnson declared during debate on the bill. Among its provisions, the act created a permanent quota system based on “national origin.” It limited the number of immigrants that could be admitted to the U.S. to two percent of the total number of individuals from each nationality that resided in the United States in 1890—before waves of Slavic and Italian immigrants arrived in America. Despite vigorous protests from Japanese diplomats, the measure also excluded Japanese immigrants (a ban that would not be lifted until 1952). Finally, it allowed no more than 150,000 total immigrants who fell within the parameters of the quota system to enter the U.S. in any one year. After Senate passage, the Immigration Act was signed into law in late May 1924.

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