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 Actrepealed 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
1962 -1965 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]