- from Ellis Island
There had always been Americans who objected to immigration, but after World War I, their numbers grew. Senseless arguments were made that certain “races” were inferior. These “races” were the very groups that had entered in large numbers before the war.
In 1921, the U.S. passed its first quota law restricting immigration. The law said that in any one year, the number of people who could enter from a given country could be no more than 3 percent of the number of people from that country who had been living in the U.S. in 1910. Three years later, a new law changed the numbers to 2 percent of the people here in 1890. The laws favored northern Europeans. They kept out southern and eastern Europeans, such as Jews, Italians, and Slavs. More restrictions were passed in 1921. These said that, before they sailed, immigrants had to show that they were qualified to enter at a U.S. consulate in their own country. Fewer and fewer immigrants passed through Ellis Island, though it was still used for other purposes. The 1921 quota system lasted until 1965.