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Page Act of 1785

The problem of discrimination still remained and raised many questions in later immigration policies. On March, 3, 1875 the Page Act was signed into law which was considered the first restrictive federal immigration law. The law was named after its sponsor, Representative Horace F. Page. It was commonly referred to as the Asian Exclusion Act because according to section 3 of the law, this legislation prohibited the importation of Chinese laborers who did not voluntarily consent to come to work in America and Chinese women for the purposes of prostitution. This law showed obviously that the anti-Asian sentiment, especially anti-Chinese was growing. Tens of thousands of Chinese laborers were brought to California and the American West as a result of the gold rush (1849) and the building of the transcontinental railroad (1860s). Although the Chinese were usually considered economic assets and good residents, their growing numbers alarmed many people living in the West. The main provision included the prohibition of contracted labor from “China, Japan, or any Oriental country” that was not “free and voluntary”, prohibition of immigration of Chinese prostitutes and exclusion of two classes of potential immigrants from all countries: convicts and women “imported for the purposes of prostitution”. Since the law enacted, the number of Chinese women coming to the United States decreased significantly (Page Act of 1785, n.d.).

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