The Immigration Act of 1917

Ellis Island, in Upper New York Bay, was the gateway for over 12 million immigrants to the U.S. as the United States’ busiest immigrant inspection station for over 60 years from 1892 until 1954.

On this day in 1917, the United States Congress overrode the veto of President Woodrow Wilson and enacted the Immigration Act of 1917.

The act was also known and The Literacy Act and as the most sweeping immigration act the United States had passed until that time. It was the first such law to restrict immigration, rather than just regulate it. The law imposed literacy tests, created new categories of those who were inadmissible, and barred immigration from the Asia-Pacific Zone. It remained in effect until the Immigration Act of 1952.

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