THE ROARING TWENTIES

Immigration Policy

Immigration Policy

One of the more extreme sides of isolationist thinking was that America was being threatened by immigrants entering the country. Since the 19th century millions of people had flocked from Europe to America, enticed by the promise of a better life, or pushed away from their home country by poverty or persecution. But by the time America became involved in World War One, many Americans came to dislike this inflow of immigrants. During the war, Germans were often a target, being as they were the enemy. Around the same time, some Americans also feared that immigrants were brining communist ideas with them, and, if they weren’t stopped, would spread them amongst the poor, who would then try and start a Revolution similar to the October 1917 Revolution in Russia. There was therefore a push to change the immigration policy.

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Emergency Immigration Act of 1921

Immigration Policy Congress and the Senate took steps to stop immigrants coming in. In 1921, the Emergency Immigration Act of 1921was passed, which brought in quotas on the number of immigrants that could come to the US from other countries. Whilst in 1920 800,000 people immigrated to the USA, less than half came in during the year after the Act was passed. In 1924, the quotas were tightened further with the National Origins Act also known as the Immigration Act) of 1924. The quota worked like this: the number of people coming from any given country during a particular year could be no more than 2% of the total number of people in the United States who had already come from that given country. Demonstrating the racism of the time and the fears that populations of certain nationalities or ethnic groups were becoming too large, the Act also completely barred anyone coming in from certain countries, such as Japan, China and India.