Major Immigration Laws 1790- Naturalization Act restricted naturalization to "free white persons" of "good moral character" who had resided in the country for two years and had kept their current state of residence for a year. 1795 Naturalization Act increased the naturalization requirement to five years residence and three years after notice of intent to apply for citizenship 1798 Naturalization Act increased the naturalization requirement to 14 years residence and five years notice of intent. 1868 Fourteenth Amendment grants citizenship to all children born in the U.S. via the phrase: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” In 1898 this was interpreted by the Supreme Court in U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark as covering everyone born in the U.S. regardless of the parents citizenship, with the exception of the children of diplomats. 1870 the law was broadened to allow African Americans to be naturalized. Asian immigrants were excluded from naturalization but not from living in the United States. Some states had significant restrictions against some Asians; in California, for example, non-citizen Asians were not allowed to own land. 1882- Chinese Exclusion Act ended further Chinese immigration to the U.S. It specifically excluded Chinese laborers from immigrating to the United States for ten years. It was the first immigration law passed by Congress that targeted a specific ethnic group. 1882- Congress banned entry of "lunatics" and infectious disease carriers. 1884 Amendments to the Chinese Exclusion Act allowed previous immigrants to leave and return, and clarified that the law applied to ethnic Chinese regardless of their country of origin. It was renewed in 1892 (the Geary Act) for another ten years, and in 1902 with no terminal date. 1901- After President William McKinley was assassinated by an anarchist of immigrant parentage, the Anarchist Exclusion Act was passed to exclude known anarchist agitators. 1907- Gentleman’s Agreement with Japan (never ratified by Congress) whereby Japan would stop allowing immigration to the US and the US would recognize Japan’s action. Japan actually continued to grant passports for immigration to the Territory of Hawaii where many Japanese resided. Once in Hawaii, they could easily continue to the west coast. Between 1901 to 1910 about 129,000 Japanese (80% men) came to the US under 5 year work contracts; 117,000 more came from 1911-1930. About half are thought to have returned. “Postcard” wives were sent for until the 1920s when the Japanese government finally quit issuing passports to Hawaii for single women. 1917- Immigration Act of 1917 (also known as the Asiatic Barred Zone Act) was passed over President Wilson’s veto. It added to the number of undesirables banned from entering the country, including “idiots”, “feeble-minded persons”, "criminals", “epileptics”, “insane persons”, alcoholics, “professional beggars”, all persons “mentally or physically defective”, polygamists, and anarchists. It also barred all immigrants over the age of sixteen who were illiterate. The most controversial part of the law was that it designated an “Asiatic Barred Zone”, which included much of eastern Asia and the Pacific Islands. It therefore added most Asians to the banned list, from which only the Chinese had been banned. 1921- “Emergency Quota Act” set quotas on immigration to 3% of the number living in the country in 1910; no limits were set on immigration from Latin America 1923- In U.S. v. Bhagat Singh Thind, Asian-Indians are classified as non-white. 1924- The “National Origins Quota Act” (aka Johnson-Reed Act) reduced the quota on immigration to 2% of the number living in the country in 1890 (specifically aimed to reduce the number of southern and eastern immigrants who came in droves after 1890). The Act also barred specific origins from the Asia-Pacific Triangle, including Japan, China, U.S. controlled Philippines, Siam (Thailand), French Indochina (Laos, Vietnam,and Cambodia), the British colony of Singapore, Korea, the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), Burma (Myanmar), India, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Malaysia. Based on the Naturalization Act of 1790, people from these countries were not eligible for naturalization, but now those that were forbidden to naturalize were forbidden to even enter the U.S. 1929 immigration law favored nationalities who were already established in the U.S. by restricting immigration to 150,000 a year based on national origin quotas. 1932- FDR and the State Department limited immigration; it went from 236,000 in 1929 to 23,000 in 1933. It was accompanied by voluntary repatriation to Europe and Mexico, and coerced repatriation and deportation of between 500,000 and 2 million Mexican Americans, mostly citizens, in the Mexican Repatriation. Iimmigration between 1931 to 1940 averaged less than 53,000 a year. 1943- The Chinese Exclusion Act is repealed. Large scale Chinese immigration did not occur until 1965. 1946- The Luce-Celler Act ended discrimination against Indian Americans and Filipinos, who were now given the right to naturalize, and allowed a quota of 100 immigrants per year. 1952- The “Immigration and Nationality Act” of 1952, known as the McCarran-Walter Act, revised the quotas again, basing them on the 1920 census. For the first time in American history, racial distinctions were omitted from the U.S. Code. Most of the quota allocation went to immigrants from Ireland, the United Kingdom and Germany who already had relatives in the United States. The law also altered the Immigration Act of 1917 by extending the privilege of naturalization to Japanese, Koreans, and other Asians. Finally, it also revised all previous laws and regulations regarding immigration, naturalization, and nationality, and collected into one comprehensive statute 1965- The Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments of 1965 (the Hart-Cellar Act) abolished the system of national-origin quotas. But there was, for the first time, a limitation on Western Hemisphere immigration (120,000 per year), with the Eastern Hemisphere limited to 170,000. Because of the family preferences put into immigration law, immigration is now mostly "chain immigration" where recent immigrants who are already here sponsor their relatives. 1975- Indochina Migration and Refugee Assistance Act was a response to the Fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War. Refugees from South Vietnam and Cambodia were allowed to enter the U.S. under a special status; Congress granted them special relocation aid. Humanitarian and church groups sponsored refuges and cared for them after they arrived. 1980- Refugee Act established policies for refugees (redefining "refugee" according to the UN definition). A target for refugees was set at 50,000 and the worldwide ceiling for immigrants was reduced to 270,000 annually. 1986- the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) created penalties for employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. The IRCA also contained an amnesty for about 3,000,000 illegal immigrants already in the U.S., and mandated the intensification of U.S. Border Patrol or INS (now part of Department of Homeland Security, DHS). 1990 Immigration Act- (IMMACT) modified and expanded the 1965 act by increasing the total immigration limit to 700,000; it also increased visas by 40 percent. Family reunification was retained as the main immigration criteria, with significant increases in employment-related immigration. 1996- The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) and Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) increased the categories of criminal activity for which immigrants, including green card holders, can be deported and imposed mandatory detention for certain types of deportation cases.
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