Sunday, February 5, 2017

President Wilson's Veto of the Immigration Act overturned.

On this date in 1917 Woodrow Wilson's veto of the Immigration Bill was overturned and the Immigration Act of 1917 became law. The act is remembered for its sweeping exclusionary provisions.

It barred the entry of people with undesirable characteristics, in the view of the drafts, which included alcoholics, anarchists, contract laborers, criminals and convicts, epileptics, the feebleminded, "idiots", "illiterates" over 16 years of age, "imbeciles", "insane persons", "paupers", "persons afflicted with contagious disease", "persons being mentally or physically defective", "persons with constitutional psychopathic inferiority", "political radicals", "polygamists", "prostitutes" and "vagrants".

The most controversial part of the bill, in people's memories, was the creation of the "Asiatic Barred Zone" which banned immigration from much of Asia and the Pacific, excluding Japan and the Philippines.  

Interestingly, Mexican temporary labor was excluded, although they were ineligible for permanent immigration.   A per capita tax was imposed on immigrants, but again Mexican temporary laborers were excluded.

World War One era Liberty Bond poster somewhat ironically using immigrants in its pitch.

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