Why did immigration to the US decline in the 1920s and  1930s?  I think the 1920s decline was a reaction to WWI combined with the Red Scare.  The 1930s decline was due to the Great Depression??

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The United States was one of the few countries to emerge from World War I stronger than when it went in, and given the shape that Europe was in at that time, America looked like an even more attractive place to move to than before the war.  But between 1880 and 1920, millions of people had already immigrated from Europe, especially Italy, Poland, Germany and Ireland.

So in the 1920s, a serious backlash against immigration occurred.  The Ku Klux Klan re-emerged, now hating Catholics, foreigners and Jews as well as blacks, and by 1925 had over 4 million members (!!).  Politicians were elected to restrict immigration and they did, passing the Immigration Act of 1924, and the Emergency Quota Act in 1928.  Both put limits, or quotas, on the number of people from each country that could move to the US in one year, and they slammed the door on Asian immigration with a yearly quota of zero allowed.

You are exactly right about the 1930s, as fewer opportunities in a Great Depression America meant fewer attempts to immigrate.  On top of this, the US adopted a policy of deporting Mexican fieldworkers so there would be more jobs available for desperate Americans, but it barely made a dent in what quickly became a 25% unemployment rate (compared to 8.6% today).


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