In response to growing public opinion against the flow of immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe in the years following World War I, Congress passed first the Quota Act of 1921 then the even more restrictive Immigration Act of 1924 (the Johnson-Reed Act). Initially, the 1924 law imposed a total quota on immigration of 165,000—less than 20 percent of the pre-World War I average. It based ceilings on the number of immigrants from any particular nation on the percentage of each nationality recorded in the 1890 census—a blatant effort to limit immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe, which mostly occurred after that date. In the first decade of the 20th century, an average of 200,000 Italians had entered the United States each year. With the 1924 Act, the annual quota for Italians was set at less than 4,000. This table shows the annual immigration quotas under the 1924 Immigration Act.
Northwest Europe and Scandinavia
Eastern and Southern Europe
Africa (other than Egypt)
|Great Britain and Northern Ireland||34,007||Italy||3,845|| |
|Irish Free State (Ireland)||28,567||Czechoslovakia||3,073|| |
New Zealand & Pacific Islands
|Free City of Danzig||228||Albania||100|
|Total (Number)||142,483||Total (Number)||18,439|| |
|Total (%)||86.5||Total (%)||11.2|| |
|(Total Annual immigrant quota: 164,667)|
Source: Statistical Abstract of the United States (Washington, D.C. Government Printing Office, 1929), 100.
See Also:Not All Caucasians Are White: The Supreme Court Rejects Citizenship for Asian Indians
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