Chinese Exclusion Act

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The Chinese Exclusion Act, signed into law on May 6, 1882, by President Chester A. Arthur, was an act of the Congress which effectively terminated Chinese immigration for ten years and prohibited the Chinese from becoming U.S. citizens. All Chinese persons - except travelers, merchants, teachers, students, and those born in the United States - were barred from entering the United States; and Chinese residents, regardless of how long they legally worked in the United States, were ineligible to become naturalized citizens. The law was repealed by the Magnuson Act in 1943 during World War II. However, until the Immigration Act of 1965 numerous laws continued to have a restrictive impact on Chinese immigration.

[Last updated in May of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team