Luce-Celler Bill of 1946 Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

The Luce-Celler Bill overturned several decades of federal immigration laws that discriminated against specific Asian nationalities by reopening immigration from India and the Philippines and granting the right of naturalization to immigrants from those countries.

Before entering World War II in late 1941, the U.S. government sought to enlist the assistance of a number of countries to join forces against the expansionist German regime that threatened to destroy much of Europe. Filipinos and Asian Indians were enlisted in the cause, but they soon found they were not allowed to immigrate to the United States and become citizens because of legal restrictions imposed on even those who served the United States during the war.Filipino immigrants;and Luce-Celler Bill of 1946[Luce-Celler Bill of 1946]Asian Indian immigrants;and Luce-Celler Bill of 1946[Luce-Celler Bill of 1946][a]Luce-Celler Bill of 1946Filipino immigrants;and Luce-Celler Bill of 1946[Luce-Celler Bill of 1946]Asian Indian immigrants;and Luce-Celler Bill of 1946[Luce-Celler Bill of 1946][a]Luce-Celler Bill of 1946[cat]SOUTH AND SOUTHWEST ASIAN IMMIGRANTS;Luce-Celler Bill of 1946[03320][cat]SOUTHEAST ASIAN IMMIGRANTS;Luce-Celler Billof 1946[03320][cat]LAWS;Luce-Celler Bill of 1946[03320][cat]CITIZENSHIP AND NATURALIZATION;Luce-Celler Bill of 1946[03320][cat]IMMIGRATION REFORM;Luce-Celler Bill of 1946[03320]

The Luce-Celler Bill permitted Filipinos and Indians who had entered the United States legally to be naturalized as citizens. At the same time, the law imposed a quota of one hundred Indian immigrants per year, effectively activating a provision of a federal law enacted earlier during the twentieth century. When a wave of Indian people began during the late nineteenth century, the United States responded with the [a]Naturalization Act of 1870Naturalization Act of 1870, which denied Asians the right to gain citizenship. The discrimination that followed the Indian race stemmed from the word “caucasian” and the courts’ interpretation of what race was “white enough” to gain citizenship.

The Luce-Celler Bill also permitted the naturalization of Filipinos, who had lost their status as American nationals with the passage of the [a]Tydings-McDuffie Act of 1934[Tydings MacDuffie Act of 1934]Tydings-McDuffie Act of 1934, when the Philippines took its first legal step toward independence from the United States. President Harry S. Truman signed the bill into law on July 3, 1946–the day before the Philippines became fully independent.Filipino immigrants;and Luce-Celler Bill of 1946[Luce-Celler Bill of 1946]Asian Indian immigrants;and Luce-Celler Bill of 1946[Luce-Celler Bill of 1946][a]Luce-Celler Bill of 1946

Further Reading
  • Daniels, Roger. Guarding the Golden Door: American Immigration Policy and Immigrants Since 1882. New York: Hill & Wang, 2004.
  • Jensen, Joan M. Passage from India: Asian Indian Immigrants in North America. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1988.
  • Karnow, Stanley. In Our Image: America’s Empire in the Philippines. New York: Random House, 1989.
  • Leonard, Karen Isaksen. The South Asian Americans. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1997.
  • Stern, Jennifer. The Filipino Americans. New York: Chelsea House, 1989.

Asian immigrants

Asian Indian immigrants

Asiatic Barred Zone

Asiatic Exclusion League

Congress, U.S.

Filipino immigrants

Filipino Repatriation Act of 1935

History of immigration after 1891

Immigration Act of 1943

Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965

Immigration law

United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind

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