Immigration Act of 1917 - "Asiatic Barred Zone"


Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1917, which added to the number of undesirables banned from entering the country, including but not limited to, “idiots,” “feeble-minded persons,” “epileptics,” “insane persons,” alcoholics, “professional beggars,” all persons “mentally or physically defective,” polygamists, and anarchists. Furthermore, it barred all immigrants over the age of sixteen who were illiterate.


The most controversial part of the law was the section that designated an “Asiatic Barred Zone,” a region that included much of eastern Asia and the Pacific Islands from which people could not immigrate. Previously, only the Chinese had been excluded from admission to the country.