1871 October 24 – Chinese Massacre in Los Angeles

On the evening of Oct. 24, 1871, a Latino police officer and a white resident Robert Thompson entered Chinatown to break up a gun fight between members of rival Chinese tongs. Whether by anger or accident, Thompson was shot to death. Shortly thereafter, a mob of 500 Angelenos entered Chinatown and assaulted every Chinese person they saw. Chinese homes and businesses were also looted. Eleven men, including Sheriff James Burns and prominent Los Angeleno Robert Widney, attempted to protect the Chinese and stop the violence, but they were ignored. After five hours, the vigilantes had tortured, shot and hanged 17 Chinese men and 1 boy. This incident drew national attention and provoked a grand jury investigation. Eight men were held responsible and was sentenced to Sam Quentin. Their convictions were overturned by the California Supreme Court on a technicality a year later and all the convicted killers were released. http://www.scpr.org/programs/offramp/2016/10/21/52801/commemorating-la-s-chinese-massacre-possibly-the-w/

1875 March – Page Act of 1875

The Page Act of 1875 is usually characterized as an anti-prostitution law that helped pave the way for the infamous Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Most scholars also describe the Page Act as an example of lawmaking restraint, as Congress refrained from broader immigration restrictions out of respect for the existing Burlingame Treaty with China. This Article suggests that such an understanding is inaccurate or at best, questionable. Though the Page Act’s text may be focused on the protection of American morals, a review of newspaper articles, legislative debates, and other historical records indicate that the true driving force was the protection of American labor. Furthermore, while the text maybe have complied with the Burlingame Treaty, the Act’s application was a de facto violation of Chinese immigration protections. The focus on prostitution was thus a strategic victory: the emphasis on morality successfully masked what would otherwise be questionable restrictions on Chinese immigration. The Page Act is thus an early example of legislation purposefully couched in the name of morality in order to avoid legal or political backlash. It should be remembered not as a footnote to the Chinese Exclusion Acts, but as an important episode in the development of both immigration and foreign treaty law. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1577213

1882 May 6 – Chinese Exclusion Act

In the spring of 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed by Congress and signed by President Chester A. Arthur. This act provided an absolute 10-year moratorium on Chinese labor immigration. For the first time, Federal law proscribed entry of an ethnic working group on the premise that it endangered the good order of certain localities. https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=47

1892 May 5 – Geary Act

The Geary Act extended the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act for an additional 10 years, and required persons of Chinese descent to acquire and carry identification papers. http://library.uwb.edu/Static/USimmigration/1892_geary_act.html

1893 May 15 – Fong Yue Ting v. United States

Upholding the constitutionality of the Geary Act of 1892, the controversial Fong Yue Ting decision recognized that the U.S. Congress had almost unlimited discretion to establish all aspects of the nation’s immigration policy, including the rules and procedures for alien registration and deportation. http://immigrationtounitedstates.org/503-fong-yue-ting-v-united-states.html


1943 December 17 – Magnuson Act

This act repealed the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, established quotas for Chinese immigration, and allowed Chinese nationals in the U.S. to become naturalized citizens. Furthermore, due to the establishment of the quota, an increase of Chinese immigration became allowable. Chinese were allowed to enter the United States and Hawaii in numbers calculated according to Section 11 of the Immigration Act of 1924. https://library.uwb.edu/Static/USimmigration/1943_magnuson_act.html