100 years and 16 presidents ago, a look at another anti-immigration act

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tags: immigration, Trump



Sunday marks the centennial of one of the darkest, most discriminatory immigration turns in American history: the passage of the Immigration Act of 1917. The law banned immigrants from the Asiatic Barred Zone, a new, massive region that included Saudi Arabia, most of China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.

Now, 100 years and 16 presidents later, some see that ugly history repeating itself.

Less than a week after moving into the White House, President Trump signed an order to increase deportations of an undocumented immigrant population that is 77% Hispanic and 15% Asian. He then instituted a temporary travel ban from countries that are 98% Muslim and suspended the admission of refugees who come mostly from Africa and the Middle East.

In some ways, the 1917 law serves as a reminder of how different the times were back then. It banned "idiots" and "imbeciles" and created a literacy test targeting immigrants from eastern Europe. But immigration historians see similarities in the hostility toward foreign settlers that's on display a century later.




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