Immigration papers of Koto Inoue Hirahara, 1924; courtesy the Anaheim Public Library/Shades of Anaheim
The Great Internal Migrations WWI – 1940s
From World War I through the end of the Second World War, Americans participated in many great internal migrations. Millions of those Americans chose California as their new home. Many of the groups that moved to California during this period, such as Southern blacks and Dust Bowl refugees, were motivated by desperate circumstances. In turn, they responded to their lot with great courage.
World War I and Immigration Restrictions
By the beginning of the First World War, European immigration had slowed to a trickle. Over the next five years, while Europe was engulfed in war, very few Europeans immigrated to the U.S. After the fighting ended, long-simmering hostilities between Anglo Americans and the largely Catholic and Jewish immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe came to the forefront.
In the midst of growing anti-immigration sentiment, Congress passed three important acts restricting immigration, in 1917, 1921 and 1924. The Immigration Act of 1924 was the most restrictive. It created quotas that severely limited the number of people who could enter the U.S. from countries outside of Western Europe. The Act also barred the immigration and naturalization of residents from all Asian nations not already excluded from entering the country. These included Japan, India, and Korea.