War Brides Act

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The War Brides Act (Public Law 271) was enacted on December 28, 1945 to allow the non-Asian spouses, natural children, and adopted children of United States military personnel to enter the U.S. after World War II.[1] More than 100,000 entered the United States under this Act and its extensions and amendments[2] until it expired in December 1948.[3]

The 1945 Act only exempted military spouses and dependents from the quotas established by the Immigration Act of 1924 and the mental and health standards otherwise in force. The complete exclusion of Asians established in the Page Act of 1875 and later legislation remained in force. Therefore, the Japanese wives of American soldiers were not permitted into the United States until later legislation because of the prior laws banning them.[4] Rose Villazor explains that the reason that the United States government had laws forbidding immigrants married to citizens from entering the country is to "promote White supremacy." [4] The Alien Fiancées and Fiancés Act of June 19, 1946, and the Soldier Brides Acts of 1946 and July 22, 1947, extended the deadlines set in the War Brides Act and modified its provisions.[5] The 1947 Act temporarily lifted the ban on Asian immigration to allow Asian spouses of military personnel–but not their children–to immigrate to the U.S. if the marriage occurred no later than 30 days after the law's enactment.[6]

An act passed on August 15, 1950, extended the War Brides Act again to cover all military spouses and minor children, with a form of expiration established by the restriction that the marriage had to occur before March 19, 1952.[3]

Otherwise the ban on Asian immigration and the quotas on European immigration that had been established by the Immigration Act of 1924 remained in force until the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 removed race as a limiting factor in immigration and made possible the entry of military spouses and children from South Korea after the Korean War without legislation specific to military spouses and children.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in Lutwak v. United States (1953), considered the case of the fraudulent use of the War Brides Act. It upheld the convictions of parties to a conspiracy to arrange for the immigration of three Polish refugees on the basis of marriages celebrated in France that were never consummated, nor did the parties to the marriages ever live together.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Reimers, David M. (1981). "Post-World War II Immigration to the United States: America's Latest Newcomers". Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 454 (March): 1–12. doi:10.1177/000271628145400102. 
  2. ^ David M. Reimers, Still the Golden Door: The Third World Comes to America (NY: 1992), 21-2
  3. ^ a b Nancy K. Ota, "Private Matters: Family and Race and the Post-World-War-II Translation of 'American'," in Lex Heerma van Voss, ed., Petitions in Social History (University Press, Cambridge), 215-6
  4. ^ a b Villazor, Rose C. [“The Other Loving: Uncovering the Federal Government’s Racial Regulation of Marriage”], New York University Law Review, 2011, retrieved September 24, 2013
  5. ^ Simpson, Caroline Chung (1998). "Out of an obscure place: Japanese War Brides and Cultural Pluralism in the 1950s". Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 10 (3): 47–81. Retrieved August 21, 2012. 
  6. ^ Robert Lee, Orientals: Asian Americans in Popular Culture (Temple University Press, 1999), 162
  7. ^ Lutwak v. United States, February 9, 1953, accessed November 29, 2012

Further reading[edit]

  • Susan Zeiger, Entangling Alliances: Foreign War Brides and American Soldiers in the Twentieth Century (New York University Press, 2010)