Laws Harsh as Tigers: Chinese Immigrants and the Shaping of Modern Immigration Law

By Lucy E. Salyer | Go to book overview

EPILOGUE
Immigration Law in American Legal Culture

Administrative law . . . is an alien immigrant which not only comes to us without authentic letters of credence, but which brings with it suggestions of a questionable past if not of actual moral turpitude.

-- John Dickinson, 1928

The year 1924 marked the culmination of many of the events and movements set into motion in 1891. Nativists reached the pinnacle of their success with the passage of the act of 1924, which perfected the exclusion of Asians and severely curtailed the immigration of southern and eastern Europeans. The Bureau of Immigration had developed from a relatively small, nebulous body in 1891 into a powerful centralized agency by 1924. It had expanded and consolidated control over all phases of immigration, reaching into the immigrants' native lands for preembarkation investigations as well as into the aliens' lives after they settled in the United States. New federal judges staffed the San Francisco courts by 1924. William W. Morrow ended his long career on the federal bench in California in 1923, retiring as judge for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Maurice Dooling died the following year.

Most important, certain fundamental principles governing immigration regulation had been established between 1891 and 1924. The struggles over the enforcement of the Chinese exclusion and general immigration laws led policy makers to reshape government structures and to create new procedures. Courts and judicial methods were rejected in favor of an agency with broad discretion, operating according to summary administrative proceedings. Immigration law had developed its distinctive characteristics which would increasingly alienate it from other branches of public law.

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