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Immigration Act of 1882

Chester Arthur

Immigration Act of 1882: Chester Arthur was the 21st American President who served in office from September 19, 1881 to March 4, 1885. One of the important events during his presidency was the passing of the Immigration Act of 1882.

Definition and Summary of the Immigration Act of 1882
Summary and definition:
The Immigration Act of 1882 was passed by Congress on 3 August, 1882 and was a comprehensive immigration law. The Immigration Act of 1882 levied a tax of 50 cents on all immigrants landing at US ports as part of a government immigration fund.

The law also made several categories of immigrants ineligible for citizenship, including immigrants who likely to become public charges.

Immigration Act of 1882 for kids: US Immigration Policy
The year 1882 saw the largest number of immigrants, nearly 1 million, in American history and in response the government began to develop a national immigration policy and Congress passed two historic immigration acts. Prior to 1890, the individual states, rather than the Federal government, regulated immigration into the United States of America. The first law to effect migrants was the
1882 Chinese Exclusion Act that restricted immigration from China for 10 years. The second law passed by Congress was the 1882 Act.

Reasons for the Immigration Act of 1882
The reasons for the Immigration Act of 1882 were

  • Increased levels of Immigrants from Europe

  • Resurgence in Nativism in America (Anti-immigration)

  • The need for the government to restrict immigration

The Purpose of the Immigration Act of 1882
The federal government had to tread a fine line with the Act of 1882.
The 1882 Chinese Exclusion act had banned all immigration from China. As many European immigrants were considered extremely desirable it would be inappropriate to limit immigration by country. The purpose for the Act of 1882 was therefore to limit immigration based on excluding certain kinds of people who were deemed "undesirable".

Immigration Act of 1882 for kids: Provisions of the Immigration Act
What did the 1882 Immigration Act do? The provisions of the Act of 1882 were:

  • To impose a 'head tax'. The Act of 1882 levied a tax of 50 cents on all immigrants landing at US ports to fund immigration officials The tax money was be collected by the collector of customs at each port paid into the United States Treasury to "constitute a fund called the immigration fund" and to pay the federal immigration agents throughout the United States

  • The Immigration fund was also to be used for the care of immigrants in distress

  • Immigration officials were given the authority to expel certain immigrants based on criteria laid out within the 1882 Immigration Act

  • The 1882 Act provided that all convicted convicts (except those convicted for political crimes) should be returned to the country they had come from. The expense of returning convicts were to be borne by the owners of the vessels

  • That an examination on the condition of passengers should be made on arrival

  • If on examination any of the passengers were found to be any the following, a written report should be made to the collector at each port and such persons should not be permitted to land: 

    • A Convict (except political)

    • A Lunatic

    • A person unable to take care of himself or herself without becoming a public charge

Significance of the Immigration Act of 1882
The significance of the Act of 1882 was that further laws would be passed restricting immigrants and increasing government regulation.
The second law passed by Congress in the same year as the Chinese Exclusion Act was the Immigration Act of 1882 which restricted immigrants from Europe. This law was quickly followed by the
1885 Alien Contract Labor Law (Foran Act) that virtually banned foreign contract labor. In 1890 the individual states turned over control of immigration to the Federal Government. In 1890 the first Federal immigration center was built on Ellis Island where immigrants were subjected to medical and legal examinations detailed in the Ellis Island Inspection Process.

US American History
1881-1913: Maturation Era

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