Emergency Quota Act

Emergency Quota Act

The Emergency Quota Act, also known as the Emergency Immigration Act of 1921, the Immigration Restriction Act of 1921, the Per Centum Law, and the Johnson Quota Act (ch. 8, 42 Stat. 5 of May 19, 1921) restricted immigration into the United States. Although intended as temporary legislation, the Act "proved in the long run the most important turning-point in American immigration policy"[1] because it added 2 new features to American immigration law: numerical limits on immigration from Europe and the use of a quota system for establishing those limits.

The Act restricted the number of immigrants admitted from any country annually to 3% of the number of residents from that same country living in the United States as of the U.S. Census of 1910.[2] Based on that formula, the number of new immigrants admitted fell from 805,228 in 1920 to 309,556 in 1921-22.[3]



Similar legislation had been proposed several times before without success. The resumption of immigration and the widespread unemployment that followed the end of World War I lent strength to the anti-immigration movement.

The act was passed without a recorded vote in the U.S. House of Representatives and by a vote of 78-1 in the U.S. Senate. James Alexander Reed, a Democrat from Missouri, cast the sole dissenting vote.[4]

The Act restricted the number of immigrants admitted from any country annually to 3% of the number of residents from that same country living in the United States as of the U.S. Census of 1910. The use of such a National Origins Formula continued until 1965.

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, immigration was 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.

Professionals were to be admitted without regard to their country of origin. The Act set no limits on immigration from Latin America.

The Act was soon revised by the Immigration Act of 1924.

See also


  1. ^ John Higham, Strangers in the Land (1963), 311
  2. ^ Divine, Robert A. (2007) America, Past and Present, 8th ed., 736
  3. ^ Robert K. Murray, The 103rd Ballot: Democrats and the Disaster in Madison Square Garden (NY: Harper & Row, 1976), 7
  4. ^ "Senate Vote #21 (May 3, 1921)". govtrack.us. http://www.govtrack.us/congress/vote.xpd?vote=s67_1-21&sort=vote. Retrieved 20 May 2011. 

Further reading

  • Nathan Miller, New World Coming. Cambridge: Da Capo Press, 2003
  • John Higham, Strangers in the Land: Patterns of American Nativism. 2nd ed. New York: Atheneum, 1963. (First edition published by Rutgers University Press in 1955)

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