Immigration Act of 1917

The Immigration Act of 1917 (also known as the Literacy Act and less often as the Asiatic Barred Zone Act) was a United States Act that aimed to restrict immigration by imposing literacy tests on immigrants, creating new categories of inadmissible persons, and barring immigration from the Asia-Pacific zone. The most sweeping immigration act the United States had passed until that time, it followed the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 in marking a turn toward nativism. The 1917 act governed immigration policy until it was amended by the Immigration Act of 1924; both acts were revised by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952.

Immigration Act of 1917
Other short titlesAsiatic Barred Zone Act
Long titleAn Act to regulate the immigration of aliens to, and the residence of aliens in, the United States.
Enacted bythe 64th United States Congress
Public lawPub.L. 64–301
Statutes at Large39 Stat. 874
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the House as H.R. 10384 by Robert Lee Henry (DTX)
  • Passed the House on 307-87 (March 30, 1916)
  • Passed the Senate on 35-17 (July 31, 1916)
  • Reported by the joint conference committee on January 8, 1917; agreed to by the House on January 8, 1917 (Agreed) and by the Senate on January 8, 1917 (56-10)
  • Vetoed by President Woodrow Wilson on December 14, 1916
  • Overridden by the House on February 1, 1917 (287-106)
  • Overridden by the Senate and became law on February 5, 1917 (62-20)