US Immigration Policy Timeline

By Sharon DeBartolo Carmack Premium


excluded criminals and women “brought for lewd and immoral purposes”


excluded lunatics, idiots, convicts, or those likely to become a public charge; Chinese Exclusion Act; 50-cent head tax paid by transportation company


excluded those infected with a “loathsome” or contagious disease, paupers, offenders of “moral turpitude,” polygamists


excluded anarchists, prostitutes and their procurers, epileptics, insane persons, professional beggars; head tax increased to $2


excluded the “feeble-minded,” children under 16 traveling alone, anyone with a physical or mental handicap that might hinder ability to earn a living; Gentlemen’s Agreement excluding Japanese laborers; head tax increased to $4 (skilled workers and whole families exempted from this tax)


literacy requirement; exclusion of persons coming from Asia and the Pacific Islands; head tax increased to $8; made it a misdemeanor to bring in or harbor aliens not duly admitted by immigration officers; Mexican workers effectively restricted by head tax, literacy test and limit of six-month stay for contracted employees


first quota law (temporary), annual admission of certain ethnic groups based on a percentage of those nationalities in the 1910 census


National Origins Act (second quota law), annual admission of certain ethnic groups based on 2 percent of those nationalities in the 1890 census (changing to ratio using the 1920 census in 1927); exempted Western Hemisphere countries from quotas; émigrés also needed a visa from US embassy in country of origin before leaving


penalties and restrictions on the return of previously deported aliens


Chinese Exclusion Act repealed; nationality law changed to allow Chinese to become citizens; authorized and financed “bracero” program to bring temporary Mexican farm workers to the US


exempted war brides of Gls from quotas


facilitated admission of alien fiancés and fiancées pending marriage to US military service personnel, with visiting time extended in 1947


relaxed quotas and other restrictions of displaced persons from World War II, particularly favoring Polish, Czechoslovakian, Hungarian, Romanian and Yugoslavian immigrants


additional categories and extensions for displaced persons and war orphans; excluded “subversives” with any communist associations


revised quotas; removed racial barriers to naturalization; increased family preferences; excluded more classes such as subversives, lepers, drug addicts and dealers; abolished head tax but increased various fees


strengthened laws to deport communists; admitted sheepherders


permitted alien enlistment in US Army
From the December 2000 issue of Family Tree Magazine