How U.s. Immigration Laws Have Changed Through History

Thứ Hai, 21 Tháng Mười Hai 201510:43(Xem: 10845)
How U.s. Immigration Laws Have Changed Through History

Two hundred and twenty five years ago, in 1790, the US Congress passed its first naturalization law, limiting citizenship to free whites of “good moral character” who had lived in the U.S. for at least two years.

Starting in 1875, Congress added a series of restrictions on immigration. Some of these restrictions were aimed at Asians, starting with limiting migration from China and later banning immigration from most Asian countries. There were also restrictions on some Asians in some states. In California, for example, non-citizen Asians were not allowed to own land.

In 1932, President Roosevelt shut down immigration during the Great Depression. Immigration numbers went from 236,000 in 1929 to 23,000 in 1933.

In 1952, legislation began to allow for a limited number of visas for Asians. In 1965, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), created a new system of immigration that favored family reunification and skilled immigrants instead of just a quota for each country. Since 1965, immigration has been dominated by people born in Asia and Latin America, rather than Europe.

The INA also ended the system of immigration based on country of origin. And, because
of the family preferences put into immigration law, immigration is now mostly "chain immigration". That means recent immigrants who are already here sponsor their relatives.

After 1965, several laws have focused on refugees. These laws allowed the immigration of Indochinese refugees fleeing war violence in the 1970’s, and later for other nationalities, including Chinese, Nicaraguans and Haitians.

In 1986, Congress enacted another major law – the Immigration Reform and Control Act – that granted legalization to millions of illegal immigrants, mainly from Latin America.

In 2012, President Obama took executive action to allow young adults who had been brought to the country illegally to apply for deportation relief and a work permit. In 2014, he expanded that program (known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA) and set up a new program to offer similar benefits to some unauthorized-immigrant parents of U.S.-born children. The DACA expansion and the new program (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA) are now on hold until the Supreme Court makes a decision in 2016.

Immigrant visa limits set by Congress remain at 700,000 for the combined categories of employment, family preference, and immediate family members.

Illegal immigration was estimated at over 1 million per year around the year 2000 but after that it declined to about 500,000 per year. Of the eleven million illegal immigrants now in the US, 40% of them entered as visitors, students or temporary workers and remained in the US after their visas expired.
Q.1. Can we expect to see any changes in the immigration law during 2016?
A.1. The Supreme Court will announce a decision about DACA and DAPA in June 2016.
Q.2. Will Congress pass any major immigration reform next year?
A.2. It will not be possible for members of Congress to agree on major immigration changes during 2016. They will be focusing on the elections at the end of 2016. If there are changes, they will come in 2017.
Q.3. When we look at the refugee crises in the Middle East and we see terrorist acts in so many places, does the world seem like a better place now compared to hundreds of years ago?
A.3. Hundreds of years ago, the life expectancy was about 35 years, and infant mortality was at a very high level. Today, most countries report a life expectancy of around 75 years. So, we are living longer, but what about the quality of life nowadays? There have been great advances in medicine and in living standards, but in many countries, these advances may be offset by the increase in civil unrest and lack of the basic freedoms that we enjoy in America.

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