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UnwantedItalian and Jewish Mobilization against Restrictive Immigration Laws, 1882-1965$
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Maddalena Marinari

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781469652931

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469652931.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 07 July 2022

The Doors of America Are Worse Than Shut When They Are Half-Way Open

The Doors of America Are Worse Than Shut When They Are Half-Way Open

From the Literacy Test to the National Origins Quota System, 1920–1929

(p.43) Chapter Two The Doors of America Are Worse Than Shut When They Are Half-Way Open

Maddalena Marinari

University of North Carolina Press

Chapter 2 offers an account of how Italian and Jewish immigration reform advocates, sensing the inevitability of further restriction, pragmatically decided to work with legislators in the early 1920s to mitigate some of the more punitive features of the national origins quota system. When the literacy test passed in 1917 failed to halt immigration from eastern and southern Europe significantly, restrictionists in and outside of Congress began pushing for quantitative immigration restriction. In 1924, Congress passed the Johnson-Reed Act, which imposed the national origins quota system for immigration from the Eastern Hemisphere and a near ban on immigration from Asia. The only issue on which restrictionist legislators and Italian and Jewish anti-restrictionists could find common ground when it came to immigration reform was family reunification, but legislators refused to budge on the discriminatory national quotas imposed on European immigration. Although scholars usually present the 1920s and 1930s as the height of immigration restriction, these negotiations over family reunification, along with the exemption of the Western Hemisphere from the quota system, allowed for exclusion and inclusion to continue to coexist in U.S. immigration policy.

Keywords:   Exclusion, Johnson-Reed Act, Literacy Test, The National Origins Quota System, Family reunification, Asian exclusion, Restrictionists, Immigration reform advocates, Quantitative immigration restriction, Western Hemisphere

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