Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882

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Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882

It is said that the Page Act 1875 paved the way for Chinese Exclusion Act which was signed by President Chester A. Arthur on May, 6, 1882.The Act stated that:

In the opinion of the Government of the United States the coming of Chinese laborers to this country endangers the good order of certain localities within the territory . . . Therefore, Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That from and after the expiration of ninety days next after the passage of this act, and until the expiration of ten years next after the passage of this act, the coming of Chinese laborers to the United States be, and the same is hereby, suspended; and during such suspension it shall not be lawful for any Chinese laborer to come, or, having so come after the expiration of said ninety days, to remain within the United States (Chinese Exclusion Act (1882), n.d.).

The Chinese Exclusion Act was the first major law restricting immigration to the United States. After the Gold Rush of 1849, a large number of Chinese people moved to the West Coast as a center of economic opportunity. At first, all most of them worked in some fields such as gold mines, agriculture, laundries, textile industry and played a major role in the construction of western railroads. The increasing number of Chinese labors put Americans at risk of losing their jobs. As a result, the law was enacted in response to economic fears, especially on the West Coast, where native-born Americans attributed unemployment and declining wages to Chinese workers. As a result of the law, the number of Chinese in the United States dropped significantly. It was one of the most significant restrictions on free immigration in U.S. history, prohibiting all immigration of Chinese. Kevin L. Brennan (n.d.) wrote that “the act signaled the emergence of new era in U.S. history that was defined by skepticism and sometimes hostility toward immigration, especially by those of a different race.” It was initially intended to last for 10 years, but was renewed in 1892 and made permanent in 1902. It was finally repealed by the Magnuson Act on December 17, 1943.

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