When the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 stopped immigration of the major source of labor on the west coast, Japanese became the primary immigrant group to fill the demand. Initially employed by railroad companies and factories, Japanese immigrants quickly started their own businesses and communities.

The National Origins Act of 1924 limited the number of immigrants who could be admitted from any country to 2% of the number of people from that country who were already living in the United States, according to the Census of 1890

The law was aimed at further restricting the Southern and Eastern Europeans who had begun to enter the country in large numbers beginning in the 1890s, as well as East Asians and Asian Indians, who were prohibited from immigrating entirely.