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February 5, 1917: Immigration Act of 1917 Passed

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Some issues are perennial in American history.  A century ago Congress overwhelmingly passed the Immigration Act of 1917 over President Wilson’s veto.  It established an Asiatic Barred Zone from which new immigrants were excluded.  Chinese were already excluded under the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.  Japanese immigration was limited under the Gentleman’s Agreement of  1907.  The law required immigrants over 16 to be literate either in English or their native language.  Among the categories of immigrants banned were”alcoholics”, “anarchists”, “contract laborers”, “criminals and convicts”, “epileptics”, “feebleminded persons”, “idiots”, “illiterates”, “imbeciles”, “insane persons”, “paupers”, “persons afflicted with contagious disease”, “persons being mentally or physically defective”, “persons with constitutional psychopathic inferiority”, “political radicals”, “polygamists”, “prostitutes” and “vagrants”.

Americans have been spoon fed a Statue of Liberty Myth by which all were welcome to America’s shores.  Actually, legislation regulating immigration has been a constant feature of American history, and modern mass immigration to the US was largely a result of the Immigration Act of 1965 which we will look at in future posts.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

2 Comments

  1. I’m not a lawyer. Of course, the lying media didn’t report it. What Article in the Constitution? What chapter/verse of what US law did the so-called judge cite to place the bogus stay?

  2. Holy Macro Safire! It would appear that the Immigration Act of 1965, which was quietly signed into law by LBJ, another lousy president, completely reverses things, so that eveeryone from alcoholics to vagrants on the above list now have priority to enter America.

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