Setting the basic course of United States immigration law and policy, the Immigration Act of 1882 established categories of foreigners deemed “undesirable” for entry and gave the U.S. secretary of the treasury authority over immigration enforcement.
The 1882 Immigration Act was the first comprehensive immigration law enacted by the federal government. As such, it would have enormous consequences for future immigration legislation. The act built the framework for federal oversight over immigration and delineated categories of “undesirables” who would be barred entry to the United States. Through the first century of American independence, immigration had been relatively open, with only occasional oversight and restrictions imposed by
The second was the Immigration Act of 1882, which was enacted on August 3 of that year. This act was the first comprehensive immigration law to deal with federal oversight and categories of exclusion. As to oversight, the law gave power over immigration enforcement to the
The Treasury secretary was authorized to enter into contracts with
The specifics of the Immigration Act of 1882 would soon be amended, but the contours of federal oversight and categorical restrictions that it established would remain. In 1891, Congress established exclusive federal control over immigration through a superintendent of immigration, the forerunner of the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization.
In 1903, Congress, alarmed by the 1901 assassination of President
Daniels, Roger. Guarding the Golden Door: American Immigration Policy and Immigrants Since 1882. New York: Hill & Wang, 2004. Gunderson, Theodore. Immigration Policy in Turmoil. Huntington, N.Y.: Nova Science, 2002.
Alien Contract Labor Law of 1885
Bureau of Immigration, U.S.
Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882
Immigration Act of 1891
Immigration Act of 1903
Immigration Act of 1917
Immigration Act of 1921
Immigration Act of 1924
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