1882: The Chinese Exclusion Act

Moment in History:

The Chinese Exclusion Act, signed by Chester A. Arthur on May 6, 1882, was the first law to restrict immigration to the United States in any way. For ten years this act kept Chinese people from immigrating to the United States and prohibited them from becoming citizens as well. The act was passed as a response to growing anxieties over unemployment and declining wages, which many American natives attributed to the Chinese railroad workers especially on the West Coast where Chinese populations were higher.

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Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930