chinese exclusion act of 1882

Cultural Dictionary

Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 definition


A federal law passed in response to complaints by workers on the West Coast that competition from Chinese immigrants was driving down their wages and threatening white “racial purity.” It suspended Chinese immigration for ten years and declared Chinese immigrants ineligible for naturalization as American citizens. The law was renewed in 1892 for another ten years, and in 1902 Chinese immigration was permanently banned. Chinese immigrants did not become eligible for citizenship until 1943.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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