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US immigration legislation online


1924 Immigration Act (An act to limit the immigration of aliens into the United States, and for other purposes)

H.R. 7995; Pub.L. 68-139; 43 Stat. 153.

68th Congress; May 26, 1924.

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



The 1924 Immigration Act set quotas that limited annual immigration from particular countries. The legislation identified who could enter as a "non-quota" immigrant; this category included wives and unmarried children (under 18 years of age) of US citizens, residents of the Western hemisphere, religious or academic professionals, and “bona-fide students” under 15 years of age. Those not in any of these categories were referred to as a “quota immigrant” and were subject to annual numerical limitations.

For quota immigrants, the Act stated that preference would be given to family members of US citizens and to immigrants who were skilled in agriculture.

Quotas were to be calculated as follows:

Until July 1st, 1927, allowable annual quotas for each nationality would be two percent of the total population of that nationality as recorded in the 1890 Census. The minimum quota was 100.

After July 1st, 1927, allowable annual quotas for each nationality would be based on the national origins - 'by birth or ancestry' - of the total US population as recorded in 1920. The overall quota of 150,000 immigrants would be divided between countries in proportion to the ancestry of the 1920 population, with a minimum quota of 100.

(Summary by Catherine Marcos and Tracy Nguyen)



The Immigration Act of 1924 (Johnson-Reed Act) - This website sponsored by the U.S. Department of State provides a description and timeline of the 1924 Immigration Act.

Comprehensive Immigration Law (1924) - This website shows the quota number of each nationality as calculated for 1924-5.

Who Was Shut Out? : Immigration Quotas, 1925-1927 - A list of annual immigration quotas by country after the enactment of the Immigration Act of 1924.

An “Un-American Bill”: A Congressman Denounces Immigration Quotas - Statement by Congressman Robert H. Clancy (R-MI) against the 1924 quotas.

Shut the Door: A Senator Speaks for Immigration Restriction - Remarks of Sen. Ellison DuRant Smith (R-SC) in favor of imposing quotas.

Eugenics Laws Restricting Immigration - An essay linking immigration laws in the first quarter of the twentieth century with the eugenics movement.


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.