The Immigration Act of 1882 was a United States federal law signed by President Chester A. Arthur on August 3, 1882. It imposed a head tax on noncitizens for the United States who stumbled on American ports and restricted certain classes of people from immigrating to America, including criminals, the insane, or “any person unable to look after him or herself.” The act created what is thought to be the first federal immigration bureaucracy and laid the building blocks for more regulations on immigration, including the Immigration Act of 1891.
Ahead of the passage through of the Immigration Act of 1882, the United States Congress had passed two significant acts regarding immigration. The first was the Page Act of 1875, which restricted the immigration of forced laborers originating from Asia. This had an important impact on the immigration of Asian indentured workers and women; specifically women presumed to be immigrating to the office as prostitutes. The 2nd was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. This act halted all legal immigration of Chinese laborers and it is considered by many to function as the first major exclusionary immigration restriction on a complete nationality enacted because of the United States. While both these acts resulted from public concern about the Chinese influence into the labor market while the economy, they even based on simple prejudice together with public perception among these immigrants’ inability to assimilate into American culture.
Although the Immigration Act of 1882 shared the principle of immigration restriction utilizing the two aforementioned acts, it had been different in a fundamental way. Unlike the Chinese Exclusion act, the Immigration Act of 1882 will never limit all immigration from a certain country or region. Certain European immigrants were considered extremely desirable, so to limit by region would deny desirable immigrants as well. Instead, to limit immigration predicated on excluding certain forms of people who were deemed “undesirable”, there necessary to be a bit of legislation effective at adhering to an even more comprehensive, exclusionary approach that would be administered through a federal government agency with federal policy.