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Laws  and Policies Affecting
Asian-Pacific Americans

Policies Affecting Chinese American



1844 Treaty of Kanagawa or Peace, Amnesty and Commerce-first Sino-American treaty; established formal relations with China; gave the United States unilateral rights
1852 195 Chinese Contract Laborers land in Hawaii 
1854 People v. Hall rules that Chinese cannot give testimony in court 
1858 Yedo Treaty-Treaty of Commerce and Navigation 

Treaty of Tientsin-Chinese government agreed to prohibit permanent emigration; reversed in 1959

1862 An Act to Protect Free White Labor Against Competition with Chiese Coolie Labor and to Discourage the Immigration of the Chinese into the State of California, April 26, 1862
1868 Burlingame-Seward Treaty-United States and China agreed to trade, travel, and residence rights for each other's citizens; still prohibited naturalization; additional articles to Sino-American treaty of 1858
1870 California passes a law against the importation of Chinese, Japanese, and "Mongolian" women for the  purpose of prostitution
1875 U.S. Congress passed first law  (The Page Law) excluding certain categories of aliens (e.g., convicts and prostitutes); declared all earlier state laws regarding immigration unconstitutional
1878 In re Ah Yup rules Chinese ineligible for naturalized citizenship
1880 Sino-American treaty revised-Chinese government limited immigration of laborers in exchange for U.S. protection of those here [Back]

1882 Chinese Exclusion Act prohibited immigration of Chinese contract laborers for ten years; subsequently renewed; prohibited naturalization 
1884 Increased restrictions on Chinese here and those seeking reentry -wives barred; anti miscegenation laws
1885 Congress banned contract labor
1886 Supreme Court ruled in Yick Wo v. Hopkins that San Francisco city ordinance prohibiting Chinese from laundry business was illegal
1887 Rock Springs Massacre (1887)President Grover Cleveland asked 
congress to allocate $150,000 to indemnify the Chinese. Congress complied, but declared that its action  should not be construed as a precedent for future compensation.
1888 Scott Act prohibited immigration of virtually all Chinese, including those who had gone back to China to visit
1889 Chinese exclusion case (Chae Chan Ping v. United States) - Supreme Court ruled that an entire race that the government deemed difficult to assimilate might be barred from entry regardless of prior treaty
1892 Geary Act extended exclusion of Chinese laborers another ten years and stripped most legal rights from Chinese immigrants; also required certificates of residence for Chinese in the United States
1893 Fong Yue Ting v. United States - Supreme Court declared Congress had the right to legislate expulsion through executive orders; Chinese community had raised money to bring this before the Court to test the Geary Act. 
Congress amendedthe Geary Act to make it more difficult for Chinese businessmen to enter this country
1894 Immigration officers authorized to ban the entry of certain aliens, including Chinese 
Gresham-Yang Treaty-China accepted total prohibition of immigration to the United States in return for readmission of those back in China on a visit; did away win Scott Act of 1888
1898 Congress excluded Chinese laborers from Hawaii; excluded Chinese in Hawaii from coming to the United States 
United States v. Wong Kim Art - Supreme Court rules person born in the United States of Chinese parents is of American nationality by birth
1889 Open door declared-United States advocated equal treatment within territories and sphere of influence claimed by other powers in china
1900 Organic Act provided government for territory of Hawaii; Chinese required to apply for certificate of residence 

United States v. Mrs. Cue Lim -Supreme Court ruled wives and children of treaty merchants were entitled to come to the United States [Back]

1902 Chinese exclusion extended for another 10 years
1904 All Chinese excluded from the United States, Washington, D.C., and all U.S. territories
1910 Angel Island open ; it  served as a prison for hundreds of Chinese immigrants. 
1922 Cable Act revoked American citizenship of any woman citizen marrying an alien ineligible for citizenship
1923 Chinese student immigration ended because of strict requirements for having the funds necessary to return to China
1924 Immigration Act (Johnson-Reed Act) restricted all Asians from coming into the United States
1925 Chang Chan et al. v. John D. Nagle - Supreme Court ruled Chinese wives of American citizens not entitled to enter the United States
1925 Cheung Sumchee v. Nagle -Supreme Court ruled 1924 Immigration Act did not apply to treaty merchants' wives or children
1927 Weedin v. Chin Bow -Supreme Court ruled persons born to American parents(s) who never resided in the United States are not of American nationality, thus not eligible for entry
1928 Lam Mow v. Nagle -Supreme Court ruled child born of Chinese parents on American vessels on high seas was not born in the United States, therefore not a citizen
1931 Cable Act amended -women who were United States citizens could retain citizenship after marriage to aliens ineligible for citizenship [Back]

1943 Magnuson Act repealed the exclusion of Chinese immigration; token 100 Chinese immigrants allowed to enter the United States annually, selected by U.S. government 

Treaty abolished all unilateral rights of the United States in dealings with China

1945 War Brides Act-Admission to the United States for spouses and children of U.S. armed forces members, included 722 Chinese
1946 Wives and children of Chinese American citizens allowed to apply as nonquota immigrants
1948 Displaced person Act-15,000 Chinese enabled to change their status in the United States; expired in 1954 

Supreme Court declared California ban on interracial marriage unconstitutional

1950 Second Displaced Persons Act further helped Chinese in the United States to change their status (due to communist takeover in China)
1951 Remittances to mainland China prohibited when People's Republic entered Korean War
1952 Immigration and Nationality Act (McCarran-Walter Act) removed total ban of Chinese immigrants but upheld national origins quotas
1953 Refugee Relief Act-2000 places allotted to Chinese out of total 205, 000 people to be admitted; law expired in 1956
1957 Refugee Escapee Act extended unused allotments of 1953 act, benefiting over 2000 Chinese
Attorney General allowed 15,000 Chinese to enter as parolees due to refugee situation in Hong Kong
1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act eliminated national origins quotas; 20,000 people per country allowed in; priority to those with skills and family in United States 

National Defense Education Act made grant money available for Chinese studies

1968 Bilingual Education Act
1972 President Richard M. Nixon traveled to China
1974 Supreme Court decided in Lau v. Nichols that San Francisco unified school district was denying non-English-speaking Chinese Americans a meaningful education; established legal basis for bilingual education
1980 US Refugee Act
1981 Taiwan and Mainland China each allowed 20,000 immigrants
1986 Immigration Reform and Control Acts-Amnesty declared for certain illegal aliens
1990 Immigration Act increased number of immigrants admitted because of skill level [Back]

Policies Affecting Southeast Asian Americans

1921 Immigration Act (Johnson Act)
1924 Immigration Act (Johnson-Reed)
1952 Immigration and Nationality Act (McCarran-Walter Act) upheld national origins quotas
1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act ended national origin as basis for admission to United States
1973 Vietnam peace accord signed; last U.S. troops withdrawn from Vietnam
1975 Parole authorized for Vietnamese dependents of U.S. citizens 

Operation Frequent Wind-U.S. government evacuated U.S. and Vietnamese people from Saigon 

Refugee centers opened in United States in various forts during April and May President Gerald Ford established interagency Task Force (IATF) in April to coordinate federal activity concerned with evacuation and resettlement of Vietnamese refugees 

Indochina Migration and Refugee Assistance Act provided funds for resettlement programs 

All refugee centers closed and IATF terminated in December; Department of Health, Education, Welfare Refugee Task Force assumed responsibility for refugee resettlement 

Parole granted for Cambodians in third countries

1976 Indochina Refugee Children Assistance Act extended educational assistance for elementary and secondary education of refugee children
1977 Public Law 956-135-Indochinese refugee allowed to become permanent residents of United States (could apply for citizenship five years after arrival) 

Additional refugees granted parole by attorney general 

Federal government supplemented state educational agency budgets for reimbursement of local schools with refugee children 

Congress passed bill to phase down refugee assistance over next four years, also provided adjustment of status from parole to permanent resident alien

1980 Refugee Act
1989 Amerasian Homecoming Act
1990 Immigration Act 

Congress passed legislation exempting Vietnamese in United States who are not U.S. citizens from a law banning anyone but a citizen from owning and piloting commercial fishing boats off the California coast [Back]

Policies Affecting Japanese Americans


1876 Reciprocity treaty between Kingdom of Hawaii and United States
1898 Newlands Resolutions-Hawaii became U.S. territory 

Census Bureau policy changed

1900 The organic Act of the territory of Hawaii [Back]

1907 Proclamation of president Theodore Roosevelt-Japanese and Koreans issued passports for Mexico, Canada, or Hawaii were to be denied admission to continental United States
1908 Gentleman's Agreement
1921 Immigration Act (Johnson Act)
1923 U.S. Supreme Court upheld constitutionality of state Alien land Acts 
1924 Immigration Act (Johnson-Reed Act)
1934 Jones-Costigan Act [Back]

1941 Declaration of war on Japan 

Martial law declared in Hawaii

1942 Executive Order No 9066-Internment authorized 

War Relocation Authority (WRA) established

1943 U.S. War Department called for AJA volunteers
U.S. Supreme Court upheld constitutionality of evacuation program and convictions of Yasui, Hirabayashi, and Korematsu, for violating curfew and relocation orders
1944 Military draft reinstated for AJAs 

Renunciation Act passed by Congress 

Servicemen's Readjustment Act (the "BI bill of rights") 

First internment camp closed by WRA 

U.S. government rescinded mass exclusion order

1945  U.S. military dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki
1946 Last internee left last internment camp
1947 Citizenship restored to some Japanese Americans who had renounced it
1948 Evacuation Claims Act [Back]

1952 Immigration and Nationality Act (McCarran-Walter Act)
1959 Hawaii became fiftieth state
1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act
1980 Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) established
1983 Korematsu's wartime conviction vacated
1984 Yasui's wartime conviction vacated
1987 U.S. Supreme Court vacated appeals court decision on Hohri et al. class action suit; remanded to federal circuit 

U.S. Court of Appeals vacated Hirabayashi's wartime conviction

1988 Civil Liberties Act (usually referred to as the Reparations Act) 

U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Hohri et al.

1990 Start of reparation payments 

Immigration Act [Back]

Policies Affecting Filipino Americans

1898 Treaty of Paris
1899 Filipino-American War
1901 Philippine Organic Act passed by Congress set policy for the Taft era (1901-1913)
1903 Pensionado program authorized
1909  Philippine Tariff Act
1913 Underwood Simmons Act-free trade between United States and Philippines; replaced Tariff Act 
1932 Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act excluded Filipino immigration to united States because they were ruled ineligible for citizenship
1934 Tydings-McDuffie Independence Act
1940 Nationality Act made it possible for Filipino immigrants to become naturalized citizens
1946 Philippines granted independence
1952  Immigration and Nationality Act (McCarran-Walter Act)
1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act-removal of national origins quotas facilitated Filipino immigration
1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act - Amnesty program
1990 Immigration Act

Policies Affecting Asian Indian Americans

1906  Asian Indians denied U.S. citizenship
1917 Asiantic Barred Zone Act passed in Congress 

excluded immigration from South or Southeast Asia, including India

1921 Immigration Act (Johnson Act)
1923 Supreme Court decision, United States v. Bhagat Singh, third decision
1924 Immigration Act (Johnson-Reed Act) excluded immigration of all Asian laborers, including Asian Indians
1946 Asian Indians granted token immigration quota of 100
1952 Immigration and Nationality Act (McCarran-Walter Act) upheld national origins quotas
1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act eliminated national origins quotas
1990 Immigration Act continued priority for skilled workers and family reunification

Policies Affecting Korean Americans

1882 Treaty of Chemulpo (Treaty of Amity and Commerce) started diplomatic relations between United States and Korea, which allowed Korean immigration to United States
1100 picture brides admitted, mostly in Hawaii
1921 Immigration Act (Johnson Act)
1924 Immigration Act (Johnson-Reed Act)
1943 Koreans in the United States exempted from enemy alien status
1945 United States liberated Korea from Japanese rule
Korean War
Admission of war brides and young children exempt from quotas
1952 Immigration and Nationality Act (McCarran-Walter Act0
1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act
1980 Refugee Act
1986  Immigration Reform and Control Act
1990 Immigration Act