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Hot Topic: Immigration

This guide explores and provides a starting point for your research on immigration law and the history of immigration

Background Information

History of Immigration Law: 

  • Naturalization Act of 1790 restricted citizenship to "any alien, being a free white person" who had been in the U.S. for two years.
  • Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882  prohibited the immigration of Chinese laborers for ten years.
  • Emergency Quota Act restricted the number of immigrants admitted from any country annually to 3% of the number of residents from that same country living in the United States as of the U.S. Census of 1910.
  • The main source of statutory law is the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), originally passed in 1952 and was replaced after 2001.Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 ( H.R. 2580; Pub.L. 89–236, 79 Stat. 911.)   was enacted June 30, 1968, also know as the Hart-Celler Act. This act change the way quotas were allocated by ending the National Origins Formula that had been in place in the United since the Emergency Quota act of 1921.  This created a new policy based on reuniting immigrant families and attracting skilled labor to the United States. Over the next four decades, the policies put into effect in 1965 would greatly change the demographic makeup of the American population, as immigrants entering the United States under the new legislation came increasingly from countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, as opposed to Europe.

  • .After September 11, 2001, the Homeland Security Act of 2002  created the Department of Homeland Security (Pub. L. No. 107-207, 116 Stat 2135).

  • The Department of Homeland Security has three agencies.

    • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services oversees lawful immigration to the United States. Individuals who wish to become U.S. citizens through naturalization submit their applications to USCIS. They determine eligibility, process the applications and, if approved, schedule the applicant for a ceremony to take the Oath of Allegiance. 
    • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) enforces federal laws governing border control, customs, trade and immigration to promote homeland security and public safety.
    • U.S. Customs and Border Protection, CBP, is one of the world's largest law enforcement organizations and is charged with keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S. while facilitating lawful international travel and trade.

Read more about Historical Immigration Policies.