Building Borders

The Aliens Act of 1905 created a new type of immigrant to the UK and a new way of dealing with them.

Italian ice-cream seller, London, early 1900s © Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Aliens Act of 1905 was the first attempt by the British Parliament to establish a system of controlled migration. As such it is seen by historians as a watershed moment, putting an end to the Victorian ‘golden age’ of migration, which, with its ever-decreasing transport costs and growing demand for labour, saw the movement of people reach unprecedented levels. The Act ushered in a new era of increasing border controls, seen as the main way to regulate whoever could enter the country.

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