National Origins Formula

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National Origins Formula is an umbrella term for a series of qualitative immigration quotas in America used from 1921 to 1965, which restricted immigration from the Eastern Hemisphere on the basis of national origin. These restrictions included legislation and federal acts. Since there is no one formula that can account for each law or restriction across the decades, as the scale, variables, and demographic characteristics change per law, the concept of National Origins Formula is best described as a collection of quantitative data considerations in immigration and migration laws in the United States.[1]

History[edit]

Temporary measures establishing quota limits per country based on the makeup of the foreign-born population residing in the U.S. were introduced in 1921 (Emergency Quota Act) and 1924 (Immigration Act of 1924); these were replaced by a permanent quota system based on each nationality's share of the total U.S. population as of 1920, which took effect on July 1, 1929 and governed American immigration law until December 1, 1965 (when the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 abolished it). The National Origins Formula aimed to preserve the existing ethnic proportions of the population as calculated according to data from the 1920 Census of Population.[2][3][4]

The 1921 Emergency Quota Act restricted immigration to 3% of foreign-born persons of each nationality that resided in the United States in 1910.

The Immigration Act of 1924, also called the National Origins Act, provided that for three years the formula would change from 3% to 2% and the basis for the calculation would be the census of 1890 instead of that of 1910. After June 30, 1927, total immigration from all countries will be limited to 150,000, with allocations by country based upon national origins of inhabitants according to the census of 1920. The quota system applied only to non-Asian immigrants. It aimed to reduce the overall number of unskilled immigrants, to allow families to re-unite, and to prevent immigration from changing the ethnic distribution of the population. The 1924 Act also included the Asian Exclusion Act, which limited immigration to persons eligible for naturalization. As a result, East Asians and South Asians were effectively banned from immigrating. Africans were also subjected to severe restrictions.[5] Immigration from North and South America was not restricted.

Quota calculation formula[edit]

Under the Immigration Act of 1924, the Bureau of the Census and Department of Commerce estimated the National Origins of the White Population of the United States in 1920 in numbers, then calculated the percentage share each nationality made up. The National Origins Formula derived quotas by calculating the equivalent proportion of each nationality out of a total pool of 150,000 annual quota immigrants. This formula was used until the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 adopted a simplified formula limiting each country to a quota of one-sixth of one percent of that nationality's 1920 population count, with a minimum quota of 100.[6][3][4]

Country of origin Population count Percentage share
 Austria 843,000 0.942%
 Belgium 778,000 0.869%
 Czechoslovakia 1,715,000 1.916%
 Denmark 705,000 0.788%
 Estonia 69,000 0.077%
 Finland 339,000 0.379%
 France 1,842,000 2.058%
 Germany 15,489,000 17.305%
 Greece 183,000 0.204%
 Hungary 519,000 0.580%
 Ireland 10,653,000 11.902%
 Italy 3,462,000 3.868%
 Latvia 141,000 0.158%
 Lithuania 230,000 0.257%
 Netherlands 1,881,000 2.102%
 Norway 1,419,000 1.585%
 Poland 3,893,000 4.349%
 Portugal 263,000 0.294%
 Romania 176,000 0.197%
 Russia 1,661,000 1.856%
 Spain 150,000 0.168%
 Sweden 1,977,000 2.209%
 Syria/ Lebanon 73,000 0.082%
  Switzerland 1,019,000 1.138%
 Turkey 135,000 0.151%
 United Kingdom 39,216,000 43.814%
 Yugoslavia 504,000 0.563%
1920  USA Total (White) 89,507,000 100.000%

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, quotas were temporarily retained, but all unused quota spots each year were pooled and made available to other countries effective December 1, 1965. The National Origins Formula fully ended on July 1, 1968, replaced by simple broad numerical limitations of 120,001 from the Western Hemisphere and 170,000 from the Eastern Hemisphere, with no more than 20,000 from any one country, limits in place until the Immigration Act of 1990.[4]

Quotas by country under successive laws[edit]

Listed below are historical quotas on immigration from the Eastern Hemisphere, by country, as applied in given fiscal years ending June 30, calculated according to successive immigration laws and revisions from the Emergency Quota Act of 1921 to the final quota year of 1965. The 1922 and 1925 systems based on dated census records of the foreign-born population were intended as temporary measures; the full National Origins Formula based on the 1920 Census of the U.S. population took effect on July 1, 1929.[7][8][6][3][4][2]

Annual National Quota Act of 1921 Act of 1924 Act of 1952
1922[a] % 1925[b] % 1930[c] % 1965[d] %
 Albania 288 0.08% 100 0.06% 100 0.07% 100 0.06%
 Armenia 230 0.06% 124 0.08% 100 0.07% 100 0.06%
 Austria 7,451 2.08% 785 0.48% 1,413 0.92% 1,405 0.89%
 Belgium 1,563 0.44% 512 0.31% 1,304 0.85% 1,297 0.82%
 Bulgaria 302 0.08% 100 0.06% 100 0.07% 100 0.06%
 Czechoslovakia 14,357 4.01% 3,073 1.87% 2,874 1.87% 2,859 1.80%
 Danzig 301 0.08% 228 0.14% 100 0.07%
 Denmark 5,619 1.57% 2,789 1.69% 1,181 0.77% 1,175 0.74%
 Estonia 1,348 0.38% 124 0.08% 116 0.08% 115 0.07%
 Finland 3,921 1.10% 471 0.29% 569 0.37% 566 0.36%
 Fiume 71 0.02%
 France 5,729 1.60% 3,954 2.40% 3,086 2.01% 3,069 1.94%
 Germany 67,607 18.90% 51,227 31.11% 25,957 16.89% 25,814 16.28%
 Greece 3,294 0.92% 100 0.06% 307 0.20% 308 0.19%
 Hungary 5,638 1.58% 473 0.29% 869 0.57% 865 0.55%
 Iceland 75 0.02% 100 0.06% 100 0.07% 100 0.06%
 Ireland [e] 28,567 17.35% 17,853 11.61% 17,756 11.20%
 Italy 42,057 11.75% 3,854 2.34% 5,802 3.77% 5,666 3.57%
 Latvia 1,540 0.43% 142 0.09% 236 0.15% 235 0.15%
 Lithuania 2,460 0.69% 344 0.21% 386 0.25% 384 0.24%
 Luxembourg 92 0.03% 100 0.06% 100 0.07% 100 0.06%
 Netherlands 3,607 1.01% 1,648 1.00% 3,153 2.05% 3,136 1.98%
 Norway 12,202 3.41% 6,453 3.92% 2,377 1.55% 2,364 1.49%
 Poland 31,146 8.70% 5,982 3.63% 6,524 4.24% 6,488 4.09%
 Portugal 2,465 0.69% 503 0.31% 440 0.29% 438 0.28%
 Romania 7,419 2.07% 603 0.37% 295 0.19% 289 0.18%
 Russia /  Soviet Union [f] 24,405 6.82% 2,248 1.37% 2,784 1.81% 2,697 1.70%
 Spain 912 0.25% 131 0.08% 252 0.16% 250 0.16%
 Sweden 20,042 5.60% 9,561 5.81% 3,314 2.16% 3,295 2.08%
  Switzerland 3,752 1.05% 2,081 1.26% 1,707 1.11% 1,698 1.07%
 Turkey 2,388 0.67% 100 0.06% 226 0.15% 225 0.14%
 United Kingdom [e] 77,342 21.62% 34,007 20.65% 65,721 42.76% 65,361 41.22%
 Yugoslavia 6,426 1.80% 671 0.41% 845 0.55% 942 0.59%
 Australia and  New Zealand 359 0.10% 221 0.13% 200 0.13% 700 0.44%
Total from Europe 356,135 99.53% 161,546 98.10% 150,591 97.97% 149,697 94.41%
Total from Asia 1,066 0.30% 1,300 0.79% 1,323 0.86% 3,690 2.33%
Total from Africa 122 0.03% 1,200 0.73% 1,200 0.78% 4,274 2.70%
Total from all Countries 357,803 100.00% 164,667 100.00% 153,714 100.00% 158,561 100.00%
  1. ^ Quota per country limited to 3% of the number of foreign-born persons of that nationality residing in the U.S. in the 1910 census (FY 1922-1924)
  2. ^ Quota per country limited to 2% of the number of foreign-born persons of that nationality residing in the U.S. in the 1890 census (FY 1925-1929)
  3. ^ Quota per nationality limited to a percentage share of 150,000 in a ratio proportional to the number of U.S. inhabitants of that national origin as a share of all U.S. inhabitants in the 1920 census (FY 1930-1952)
  4. ^ Quota per nationality limited to one-sixth of 1% of the number of U.S. inhabitants of that national origin in the 1920 census (FY 1953-1965)
  5. ^ a b From 1921 to 1924, quota for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland encompassed all of Ireland; after 1925, only Northern Ireland, with a separate quota created for the Irish Free State
  6. ^ U.S.S.R. excluding regions falling under the Asiatic Barred Zone while in effect

Relaxation and abolition[edit]

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 retained but relaxed the National Origins Formula. It modified the ratios to be based on the 1920 census and eliminated racial restrictions, but retained restrictions by national origin. President Harry Truman vetoed it because of its continued use of national quotas, but the Act was passed over his veto. The quotas were in addition to 600,000 refugees admitted from Europe after World War II.[9]

The National Origins Formula was abolished by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which marked a significant change in American immigration policy. It replaced the system with two quotas for the Western and Eastern hemispheres.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Milestones: 1921–1936 - Office of the Historian". history.state.gov. Retrieved 2022-03-31.
  2. ^ a b Beaman, Middleton (July 1924). "CURRENT LEGISLATION: The Immigration Act of 1924". American Bar Association Journal. American Bar Association. 10 (7): 490–492. JSTOR 25709038. Retrieved August 10, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c "Statistical Abstract of the United States: 1931" (PDF) (53rd ed.). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce. August 1931: 103–107. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 29, 2021. Retrieved August 10, 2021. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ a b c d "Statistical Abstract of the United States: 1966" (PDF). Statistical Abstract of the United States ... : Finance, Coinage, Commerce, Immigration, Shipping, the Postal Service, Population, Railroads, Agriculture, Coal and Iron (87th ed.). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Bureau of the Census: 89–93. July 1966. ISSN 0081-4741. LCCN 04-018089. OCLC 781377180. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 28, 2021. Retrieved August 9, 2021.
  5. ^ "Who Was Shut Out?". Archived from the original on 2015-12-16. Retrieved 2014-10-05.
  6. ^ a b "Statistical Abstract of the United States: 1930" (PDF) (52nd ed.). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce. July 1930: 102–105. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 26, 2021. Retrieved August 9, 2021. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ "Statistical Abstract of the United States: 1922" (PDF) (45th ed.). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce. July 1923: 100–101. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 29, 2021. Retrieved August 10, 2021. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ "Statistical Abstract of the United States: 1924" (PDF) (47th ed.). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce. July 1925: 83. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 28, 2021. Retrieved August 10, 2021. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. ^ David M. Reimers, Unwelcome Strangers (1998), 26

Further reading[edit]

  • Michael Lemay and Elliott Robert Barkan, eds., U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Laws and Issues: A Documentary History Greenwood Press, 1999
  • John Lescott-Leszczynski, The History of U.S. Ethnic Policy and Its Impact on European Ethnics Westview Press, 1984