An examination of the anti-immigrant campaign in early 20th century America

Feb 11, 2020 141

BY: Fred Mazelis

Daniel Okrent’s book The Guarded Gate examines the decades-long campaign in the US to restrict immigration that led to the passage of the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924, legislation which established a quota system designed to virtually bar immigration to the US from Southern and Eastern Europe. A century later, at a time when xenophobia, anti-Semitism and racism are once again on the rise in the US and around the world, much of this history is little known.

The four decades leading up to the Johnson-Reed Act had witnessed the greatest wave of immigration to the United States in the country’s history up to that point. More than 25 million Europeans, increasingly from Southern and Eastern Europe, flocked to the US during this period. Asians were largely barred, primarily by the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

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