Anti-Chinese Legislation and Court Cases

The Chinese Exclusion Act was the first federal law to restrict the immigration of a specific group based on nationality, and defined in legal terms who could not "become American." While European immigration surged, Chinese exclusion was extended indefinitely in 1904. It would be another 39 years before the Act would be repealed.
The Chinese were legally categorized as "aliens ineligible for citizenship" -- that is, perpetual foreigners. Although the language wasn't explicitly racial, the term was applied only to Chinese (and later other Asian) immigrants, effectively defining the color line among immigrants by extending "whiteness" to Europeans and opening the door for anti-Asian laws.
In resistance, the Chinese American community readily used the American court system to challenge each injustice. Such human rights cases continue to be cited in American constitutional law.