The War Against Chinese Restaurants

Event Date

Room 2100A | King Hall School of Law | UC Davis

Jack Chin pictureGabriel "Jack" Chin
Martin Luther King Jr. Professor, UC Davis School of Law

Professor Chin will be presenting the attached paper, which deals with immigrants, immigrant's rights, and immigration policy, notwithstanding the title.

The article identifies and explores a forgotten chapter in the saga of racial regulation in the United States. For roughly thirty years, in the last decade of the nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth, a national movement, driven primarily by unions, sought to eliminate Chinese restaurants from the United States. The main tool was innovative legislation. The effort failed; “there are more Chinese restaurants in the United States than McDonald’s, Burger King, and KFC restaurants combined.” But the campaign, unsuccessful in its immediate goal, helped propagate the idea of Chinese as morally dangerous, and contributed to the passage of the Immigration Acts of 1917 and 1924, which almost completely eliminated Asian immigration to the United States.

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