The American, Emergency Quota Act, also known as the Emergency Immigration Act of 1921, (ch. 8, 42 Stat. 5, or the Johnson Quota Act) of May 19, 1921, restricted immigration into its country; the act imposed a quota that limited the number of immigrants who would be admitted from any country annually to 3% of the number of residents from that same country who lived in the United States, based on the United States Census figures from 1910. Taking native-born residents into account, this calculation indicated a total of 357,802 new immigrants would be allowed annually. Of that number just over half was allocated for northern and western Europeans, and the remainder for eastern and southern Europeans, a 75% reduction from prior years. Professionals were allowed in despite their origins. The act was passed without a record vote in the U.S. House of Representatives and by a vote of 78-1 in the U.S. Senate during a time of swelling isolationism following World War I.
The Emergency Quota Act had been proposed several times before, but never made it through until 1921. The main reason for passing the Act was that the flood of immigrants in recent years had negative wage effects on native-born Americans. This led to increasing support for immigration restrictions. Another factor was the increasing political power of immigration groups. Historian John Higham wrote in his classic work on American nativism, Strangers in the Land (1963), that although intended as temporary legislation the act "proved in the long run the most important turning-point in American immigration policy" because it imposed numerical limits on European immigration for the first time and established a nationality quota system (Higham, p. 311).
The immigration level was limited to 3% in 1921 by the Emergency Quota Act, soon to be limited by the Immigration Act of 1924, which brought it down to 2%.
The average annual inflow of immigrants prior to 1921 was 175,983 from Northern and Western Europe, and 685,531 from other countries, principally Southern and Eastern Europe.
In 1921, the incoming immigrant population was settled down to 198,082 from Northern and Western Europe, and 158,367 from principally Southern and Eastern Europe (including other countries), being shown as a drastic reduction in immigration levels from other countries, principally Southern and Eastern Europe. This also portrays a 3% level in reduction. This was due to the Emergency Quota Act of 1921.
The 2% level was reached in the Quota Act of 1924, where levels dropped to 140,999 for Northern and Western Europe, and 21,847 for other countries, principally Southern and Eastern Europe.
The census used for the Emergency Quota Act was the 1910 census. (The Immigration Act of 1924 was based on the census of 1890.)
The Act set no limits on immigration from Latin America.
Full article ▸