Chinese Exclusion Act (United States)

From Academic Kids

The Chinese Exclusion Act, signed into law May 6, 1882, followed revisions made in 1880 to the Burlingame Treaty of 1868. The revisions to the treaty allowed the U.S. to suspend immigration and Congress acted quickly to implement the suspension.

The act excluded all Chinese laborers to the United States for 10 years. Amendments made in 1884 tightened the provisions that allowed previous immigrants to leave and return, and clarified that the law applied to ethnic Chinese regardless of their country of origin. The act was renewed in 1892 by the Geary Act for another 10 years, and in 1902 with no terminal date. It was repealed by the 1943 Magnuson Act, allowing a national quota of 105 Chinese immigrants per year, although large scale Chinese immigration did not occur until the passage of the Immigration Act of 1965.

The act was passed in response to the large number of Chinese who had immigrated to the Western United States as a result of unsettled conditions in China and the availability of jobs working on railroads. It was the first immigration law passed in the United States targeted at a specific ethnic group.

Although the law has long been repealed, it was around long enough to be made part of the United States Code. Even today, although all its constituent sections have long been repealed, Chapter 7 of Title 8 of the U.S.C. is headed, "Exclusion of Chinese." It is the only chapter of the 15 chapters in Title 8 (Aliens and Nationality) that is completely focused on a specific nationality or ethnic group.

From 1910 to 1940, the Angel Island Immigration Station on what is now Angel Island State Park in San Francisco Bay served as the processing center for 175, 000 attempted Chinese immigrants, most of whom were returned to China.


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