"An Act to Limit the Immigration of Aliens into the United States," May 26, 1924


President Calvin Coolidge, 1923
Courtesy of the Library of Congress

The 1924 Immigration Act was sponsored by Representative Albert Johnson (R-Washington) and Senator David Reed (R-Pennsylvania). It proposed an alteration to the system enacted in the 1921 Emergency Quota Act, (see here) by reducing the total immigration quotas (from 3% of a given nationality to 2%) and by changing the basis for the calculation of the quotas from the 1910 census to the 1890 census. It also included a perpetuation of the prohibition against Asian immigration contained in the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. The Johnson-Reed bill passed with strong congressional support, and was signed into law by President Calvin Coolidge on May 26, 1924. The text of the Act given here contains language that partly answers the protests of the NCWC, but still legislated huge restrictions on the immigration of Catholics from southern and eastern Europe.


An Act to Limit the Immigration of Aliens into the United States, May 26, 1924


As you read the document, reflect on the following questions:

  • What kinds of people are exempted from the quota system as "non-quota immigrants"? Do you think the list of non-quota immigrants is an adequate response to the NCWC's objections to the legislation?
  • What professions were supposed to be given preference under the quota system?
  • The section of "Numerical Limitations" limits immigration quotas to 2% of a given nationality from 1924 until 1927, at which time the quotas would be based on a ratio determined from the population of the United States in 1920. Why do you think this clause is included in the Act?