Chapter 3: The Southern and Eastern European wave: qualitative restrictions, 1875–1920
Becoming America
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We review U.S. immigration history during the 1875–1920 period, when federal legislation imposed explicit qualitative restrictions on immigration. The Page Act of 1875 prohibited the entry of forced laborers, Asian women who might engage in prostitution, and convicted criminals. The Chinese Exclusion Act (1882) halted Chinese immigration to the U.S. for ten years and prohibited Chinese residents of the U.S. from becoming citizens. In 1892, the Geary Act extended the ban for an additional decade, and required all Chinese living in the U.S. to carry permits. As expiration of the Geary Act neared, the Scott Act was passed, further extending the ban. Two years later, the ban on Chinese immigration to the U.S. was made permanent. Additional legislation also limited immigration, with arrivals from Northern and Western Europe continuing to receive preferential treatment. Even so, during this period, we see large numbers of immigrants arrive from Southern and Eastern Europe.

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