Immigration 101: History of Immigration Law and Current Situation

Author: Alexx | Category: Society | Lifestyles | Human Interest | Politics National | Education | Date: 11-13-2019


First, a few key historical facts about Immigration in the U.S.:

  1. Until 1965, American immigration law has always been racist, starting with the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act:  The Western Hemisphere, or European immigrants, have always had much higher quotas than immigrants from Asia, South America, Africa, and those from the Eastern Hemisphere..
  2. In 1965, the Immigration and Nationality Act mitigated the extreme racist quota system somewhat in that it gave first preference to relatives of U.S. citizens and permanent residents.  The racist quota system was still maintained in that the Eastern Hemisphere, where the population was much higher and from where many more people have sought to immigrate to the U.S., had a per country quota of  just $20,000 per year.  It was not until 1978 that the separate quotas for Eastern and Western Hemispheres were combined into a global limit of 290,000 per year. 
  3. 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act:  The key provisions of this comprehensive reform effort were the following: (1) gave legal status to illegal aliens who had lived in the United States since January 1, 1982, (2) created a new category of temporary agricultural worker and gave them a path to permanent residency. (3) established a visa waiver pilot program allowing the admission of certain nonimmigrants from friendly nations to enter the U.S. without visas.
  4. 1990:  Establishment of current immigration category system:  Key Provisions:  (1) Increased total immigration quota under an flexible cap of 675,000 (2) created distinct categories such as family-sponsored, employment-based, etc. (3) revised all rules for exclusion and deportation, significantly rewrote the political and ideological principles undergirding immigration decisions. , 
  5. Minor immigration acts through the 1990s and 2000s:  There were a series of Acts that gave preference to certain     groups of persecuted aliens (e.g. Haitians) and most     significantly, H1-B (educated workers that are sponsored by     employers) caps were removed and permitted renewals that did     not count under the cap.
  6. DACA    
  7. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), is an executive order signed by President Obama in 2012 that gives some undocumented people who came to this country as children permission to receive renewable 2-year permits to work legally.  This executive order defers deportation for eligible people who have applied for DACA status.  To be eligible for the program, recipients cannot have felonies or serious misdemeanors on their records and must be born after June 15, 1981. DACA is NOT  a path to citizenship for recipients, known as Dreamers.

The Trump administration has been planning to scrap the DACA program but these plans are now on hold by court order and the case is likely to be heard by the Supreme Court sometime in 2020.

Current Major Immigration Issues:

  • What should be done about DACA (see above)?
  • What should be done about the migrants streaming in from the southern border (mostly from Mexico)?
  • What should be done about people who have overstayed their visas and are now undocumented?
  • Should overall immigration be reduced, increased, or stay the same?
  • How should America set priorities for people (refugees, asylum seekers, family members, economic migrants, skilled workers) seeking entry                       



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