Chapter 4: The National Origins Quota System: quantitative restrictions, 1921–1967
Becoming America
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We review U.S. immigration history during the period from 1921 through 1967. The Emergency Quota Act (1921) and the Johnson-Reed Act (1924) established and revised the National Origins Quota System, augmenting existing qualitative restrictions on immigration with quantitative restrictions. This greatly reduced immigrant inflows, including arrivals from Southern and Eastern Europe, while affording a large percentage of the quota allocation to Northern and Western Europe. The McCarran-Walter Act (1952) eliminated race as a barrier to immigration and citizenship, allowed immediate relatives of citizens to enter without numerical restriction, and revised the National Origins Formula. Even so, quota limits and the bias favoring immigration from Northern and Western Europe remained in place. During this period, the annual average inflow of 203,395 immigrants was markedly smaller than the average inflow of 537,945 witnessed during the 1885-1920 period, and much closer to the average annual inflow of 161,390 observed between 1820 and 1884.

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