In this week’s episode of Parsing Immigration Policy, Roy Beck, founder of NumbersUSA, joins us to discuss the 100th anniversary of the 1924 Immigration Act. President Calvin Coolidge signed it into law on May 26, 1924, and Beck outlines how, despite the various and often invidious motivations of the Act’s supporters, its effect was overwhelmingly positive for Americans of all races.

Beck discusses how the 1924 Immigration Act built upon a similar bill from 1921, capping the number of immigrants that could enter each year and establishing a quota system based on national origins. He underscores how the bill was overwhelmingly supported by various sectors of society, including labor unions and Black leaders. Beck also notes that the bill’s sponsor emphasized that the main effect of the legislation was on restricting the numbers of immigrants who could enter rather than on the types of immigrants – how many, rather than who.

The act led to a significant decrease in immigration, which had both positive social and economic effects. The reduced flow of immigration allowed the millions of recent arrivals to assimilate more successfully into American society. And by tightening the labor market, the bill led to increased improved worker productivity and compensation and less economic inequality. Beck underscores how “between 1924 and 1970…Americans went from a working-class nation to a middle-class nation,” highlighting how the immigration restrictions contributed to improved economic conditions for American households. To elucidate this point, Beck describes how the immigration restrictions facilitated the Great Migration of Blacks from the South, enabling them to obtain jobs in Northern cities and vastly improve their economic conditions – preconditions for the success of the later Civil Rights Movement.

In his closing commentary, Mark Krikorian, the Center’s Executive Director and podcast host, discusses how Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is bringing back the Senate border bill for a vote this week. Given that the bill will not pass, Schumer’s action is little more than a political stunt designed to shift blame for the border crisis to his political opponents. Indeed, contrary to assertions by the administration and some in the media, opposition to the bill is clearly based on its substance, not simply on politics.


Mark Krikorian is the Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies.


Roy Beck is the founder of NumbersUSA.


Roy Beck’s Recent Book, Back of the Hiring Line: A 200-Year History of Immigration Surges, Employer Bias, and Depression of Black Wealth

Exploiting Mass Immigration to Displace Blacks

The Ineffective and Problematic Senate Border Bill Rises from the Dead

Trump Didn’t Kill the Senate Border Security Deal – the Deal’s Provisions Did

Intro Montage

Voices in the opening montage:

  • Sen. Barack Obama at a 2005 press conference.
  • Sen. John McCain in a 2010 election ad.
  • President Lyndon Johnson, upon signing the 1965 Immigration Act.
  • Booker T. Washington, reading in 1908 from his 1895 Atlanta Exposition speech.
  • Laraine Newman as a “Conehead” on SNL in 1977.
  • Hillary Clinton in a 2003 radio interview.
  • Cesar Chavez in a 1974 interview.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking to reporters in 2019.
  • Prof. George Borjas in a 2016 C-SPAN appearance.
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions in 2008 comments on the Senate floor.
  • Charlton Heston in “Planet of the Apes”.

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Published in: General