The Palmer Raids were a series of raids conducted by the United States Department of Justice to capture, arrest and deport radical leftists, especially anarchists, from the United States. The raids and arrests occurred in November 1919 and January 1920 under the leadership of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer. Though more than 500 foreign citizens were deported, including a number of prominent leftist leaders, Palmer’s efforts were largely frustrated by officials at the U.S. Department of Labor, which had authority for deportations and objected to Palmer’s methods.
The Palmer Raids occurred in the larger context of the Red Scare, the term given to fear of and reaction against communist radicals in the U.S. in the years immediately following World War I. There were strikes that garnered national attention, race riots in more than 30 cities, and two sets of bombings in April and June 1919, including one bomb mailed to Palmer’s home.