Why did the U.S decide to limit immigration in 1921?   

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The reason for this was that there were huge numbers of immigrants coming into the country and this influx had been coming in (with the exception of the war years) since about 1890.  Many Americans felt, by 1921, that there were too many immigrants.  A major reason that they felt this way was because they felt that the immigrants were not assimilating well into American society and that they were a source of crime and other social problems.  They felt that the immigrants were diluting and ruining American society and American institutions.  For these reasons, Congress decided to limit immigration in 1921 and then again in 1924.

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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There are several reasons why the United States decided to limit immigration in 1921. The United States had just come from a period of 20 years where we were trying to correct problems in our society as well as trying to correct world problems. The people of our country wanted to focus on just us. They wanted a life free from dealing with others and with problems in the world. They wanted to enjoy life and have a good time.

Between 1880-1920, the number of immigrants who came to our country from South and East Europe increased significantly. These immigrants had a different culture and a different way of life than the immigrants from North and West Europe. These differences frightened some people. They were concerned that these immigrants would take jobs away from Americans. Our economy declined at the end of the 1910s, and people blamed the immigrants.

There also was some violence at the end of the 1910s. There were many strikes after World War I, and immigrants were involved in these strikes. Some immigrants believed in the teaching of Karl Marx. His teachings were contrary to the principles of our economic system. Many Americans were convinced the communists were trying to over our country. Many Americans pointed to immigrants who considered themselves anarchists. These people didn’t believe in law and order. The Sacco and Vanzetti case is an example of immigrants who were tried for committing murder. They were convicted on circumstantial evidence, reflecting the growing anti-immigrant environment in our country.

Some people believed in the concept of eugenics. These people believed that our race was superior to other races. Thus, they wanted to keep these so-called inferior races out of our country. The Ku Klux Klan also grew during this time period emphasizing the racial and the religious inferiority of various groups.

As a result, in 1921, the Emergency Quota Act was passed to limited immigration to the United States, especially from South and East Europe.

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