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US immigration legislation online


1882 Chinese Exclusion Act (An act to inaugurate certain treaty stipulations relating to Chinese)

Sess. I, Chap. 126; 22 Stat. 58.

47th Congress; Approved May 6, 1882.

You can find the full text of this law here or here or download the PDF.



The Chinese Exclusion act was imposed to exclude Chinese from migrating to the United States. The government felt that Chinese laborers were a threat to order in certain localities. The law stated that for the next ten years the Chinese laborers were suspended from coming into the United States. If people were caught bringing Chinese into the country they would be fined five hundred dollars per head that was brought in and /or imprisoned but not for more then a year. Vessels landing on American soil could not have Chinese on them and if they did they were not allowed leave any of them behind or let them step off the boat. All Chinese laborers that came in after November 17, 1880 were to be deported. All the Chinese that were in then U.S. before this date were registered and given certificates that had their names, age, occupation, physical markings on their bodies and more.

(Summary by Haafiza Manji and Bob Utama)



The Huddled Masses: Chinese Exclusion Act - A brief essay from the Digital History project.

Chinese Exclusion Act (1882) - Overview of the legislation with an actual image of the legislation as originally drafted.

Chinese Immigration and Chinese Exclusion Acts - History of Chinese exclusion, from the US Department of State.


Many thanks to Hein Online for document provision, and The University of Washington-Bothell Library, for arranging web hosting. If you have any questions about this site, please contact the course instructor, Sarah Starkweather, at sarah [dot] starkweather [at] gmail [dot] com.