Subversive Historian – 12/17/08

The Chinese Exclusion Repeal Act

Sixty-four years ago on this day in people’s history, the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed. On December 17th, 1943, Congress acted to dissolve the discriminatory legislation that disallowed Chinese immigrants from entering the United States since 1882. Lawmakers were prompted to act due to their alliance with China during the course of World War II. Chinese nationals who were already in the U.S. were granted a pathway to naturalized citizenship. While Japanese-Americans languished in internment camps, wartime America’s repealing of the Chinese Exclusion Act must be contextualized. In accordance with the Immigration Act of 1924, the quota set on Chinese immigrants available for naturalization was calculated by averaging 2% of the existing population of Chinese nationals living in the US since 1890.

Since that figure was siphoned by xenophobic legislation, the annual quota for visas was only 105. Give us your poor, tired, huddled masses – only a few at a time.

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