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US immigration legislation online

1952 Immigration and Nationality Act, a.k.a. the McCarran-Walter Act (An act to revise the laws relating to immigration, naturalization, and nationality; and for other purposes)

H.R. 13342; Pub.L. 414; 182 Stat. 66.

82nd Congress; June 27, 1952.

You can find the full text of this law here or download the PDF.


Otherwise known as the McCarran-Walter Act, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 was meant to exclude certain immigrants from immigrating to America, post World War II and in the early Cold War. The McCarran-Walter Act moved away from excluding immigrants based simply upon country of origin. Instead it focused upon denying immigrants who were unlawful, immoral, diseased in any way, politically radical etc. and accepting those who were willing and able to assimilate into the US economic, social, and political structures, which restructured how immigration law was handled. Furthermore, the most notable exclusions were anyone even remotely associated with communism which in the early days of the Cold War was seen as a serious threat to US democracy. The main objective of this was to block any spread of communism from outside post WWII countries, as well as deny any enemies of the US during WWII such as Japan and favor “good Asian” countries such as China. The McCarran-Walter Act was a strong reinforcement in immigration selection, which was labeled the best way to preserve national security and national interests. President Truman originally vetoed the law, deeming it discriminatory; however there was enough support in Congress for the law to pass.

(Summary by Wade Johnson)



The McCarran-Walter Act: A Contradictory Legacy on Race, Quotas, and Ideology – A useful overview of the entire conflict of Immigration Nationality Act of 1952, providing information from the point of view of president Truman, Congressman Walter, Senator McCarran, and provides an informative evaluation of the legislation.

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (Walter-McCarran Act) – Describes the Act in detail historically, factually, socially, economically, politically and is useful in developing a substantive critique of the INA and its particular effects upon America and immigrants in general.

The Cold War at Home from GoogleBooks – First few sections of a book about the red scare in America which provides useful information about what started the red scare and how the McCarthy tactics were carried out.

Many thanks to Hein Online for document provision, and The University of Washington-Bothell Library, for arranging web hosting. If you have any questions about this site, please contact the course instructor, Sarah Starkweather, at sarah [dot] starkweather [at] gmail [dot] com.

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