Chinese Exclusion Act (1882)

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  • The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was the first federal law to target immigrants solely on the basis of ethnic and national origin. At that time, nearly 97 percent of the 105,000 Chinese immigrants in the United States lived in the West, having settled in California, Oregon, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Texas. Workers born in the United States believed that the presence of Chinese workers was contributing to their own unemployment and lower wages, and the passage of the law was a result of such fears, which were especially strong in California. Congress renewed the law in 1892, 1902, and 1904. Like the Jim Crow laws that dominated the South, the Chinese Exclusion Act legitimized and systematized racism and contributed to a political ...

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