“The Anti-Chinese Wall — The American Wall Goes Up as the Chinese Original Goes Down.” Cartoon by Friedrich Graetz, published in Puck in 1882. (Library of Congress).

South Asian Americans are an understudied demographic in American history from the late nineteenth century to the twentieth century. During a period that introduced and implemented numerous legislation against non-Western European immigrants coming to the United States. Scholarship on South Asian immigration during this period, like most other Asian immigration, has often been shadowed by the study of European ethnic groups as seen in the historiography of immigration studies. Legislation like the Barred Zone act (1917) and the United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind (1923) case demonstrates how discrimination and denial of citizenship affected the identity, community, and transnationalism of South Asians in America.

The government  actions that affected the immigration of our cases can be seen through:

-Barred Zone (1917): This legislation restricted immigration by imposing literacy tests and created new categories of inadmissible persons for inspectors. In addition, it also barred immigration from the Asia-Pacific zone.

-National Origins Quota Act (1924): This law also severely restricted immigrants by establishing a national quota system that discriminated against immigrants from southern and eastern Europe and Asians. This legislation stayed in effect until the 1960s.

-United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind (1923): This Supreme Court case had decided that Bhagat Thind, an Indian Sikh man, was racially ineligible for US naturalized citizenship

The South Asian Immigrant Experience In The Early 20th CenturyNext Page