The 1924 Law That Slammed the Door on Immigrants and the Politicians Who Pushed it Back Open

Jun 17, 2020 517

BY: Anna Diamond

AMERICA OF THE MELTING POT COMES TO END,” the New York Times headline blared in late April 1924. The opinion piece that followed, penned by Senator David Reed of Pennsylvania, claimed recent immigrants from southern and Eastern European countries had failed to satisfactorily assimilate and championed his recently passed legislation to severely restrict immigration to the United States.

He proudly proclaimed, “The racial composition of America at the present time thus is made permanent.” The 1924 Johnson-Reed Act, which Congress had overwhelmingly passed just weeks before and which President Coolidge would sign into law the following month, marked the start of a dark chapter in the nation’s immigration history. 

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