Immigration Laws In The United States

The United States has the highest number of immigrants in the world. Immigration has significant social-economic implications to a nation; hence, the U.S has established laws that ensure the best socioeconomic environment for all of her inhabitants. The Naturalization Act if 1790 would become the first federal law governing acquaintance of citizenship in the U.S. The act restricted citizenship to white aliens unless they had inhabited the land for two years. The 1970 immigration Act did not define the status of citizenship for non-white immigrants.

In 1882, the federal government enacted another immigration law that would define categories of persons viable for immigration. From 1790, immigration was open to all categories of people, but only whites who lived for more than two years could acquire citizenship. However, the 1882 Immigration Act established a flamework to delineate people deemed undesirable to inhabit the U.S. The Act reduced the number of women immigrants from Asia, and Chinese artisan laborers into California (Abramitzky, and Boustan 5).

Since the number of eligible immigrants was significantly large, even after the 1882 Immigration Act, Congress enacted the Immigration Act of 1924. The Act limited the number of eligible immigrants that would be allowed entry in the U.S. The Act established a flame for national origins quota, which validated two out of one hundred immigrants from a particular nation. Besides, persons over the age of sixteen would pass a literacy test to qualify for immigration. Also, congress hikes the immigration tax to discourage immigrants into the U.S.

In the year 1965, president Lydon did away with the immigration quota system. He signed a new law, Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which was a family reunification gateway, and to some extent, an employment-based immigration process. As a complement to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Immigration Act of 1965 made it possible for U.S immigrants to reunite with their families from abroad. Wolgin (par.3) explains that the 1965 immigration act made the U.S the most diverse multicultural nation in the world. Also, many immigrants found jobs in the U.S.

In the year 1986, congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. It was an amendment of the previously enacted Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which had allowed immigration for reunion or employment motives. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 criminalized hiring, recruitment, or employment referral to persons not eligible for immigration, or persons who were not eligible to work in the United States. Besides, immigrants who had inhabited the U.S for less than 18 months, and those who had migrated before January 1st, 1982, were regarded as temporary residents.

In1996, Congress enacted the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRAIRA), to supplement the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. IIRAIRA added punishment for undocumented immigration, or forgery of immigration documents. The Act improved border control and allowed the deportation of undocumented immigrants from the United States (Alpert 385). Also, the Act required that illegal immigrants who side for 180 to 360 days may receive a pardon after three years. Otherwise, they must remain outside the U.S for ten years.

As of now, there are strong critic and controversies concerning immigration laws in the United States. The subject is critical since there are too many immigrants, who have both socioeconomic and political beneficence and demerits. Besides, there are about 10.7 million illegal immigrants (Passel and Cohn par.3): A population that might cause economic implications in the United States if the government took legal actions. Notably, since 1790, immigration laws continue increasing strictness, but immigration rate increases. Hence, the government should readdress the immigration policies and allocate resources to research the best policies to combat uncontrolled immigration.

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Works Cited

Abramitzky, Ran, and Leah Boustan. “Immigration In American Economic History.” Journal Of Economic Literature, vol 55, no. 4, 2017, pp. 1311-1345. American Economic Association, doi:10.1257/jel.20151189. Accessed 14 Dec 2019.

Alpert, Joseph S. “On Immigration: Welcome To America!”. The American Journal Of Medicine, vol 130, no. 4, 2017, pp. 383-384. Elsevier BV, doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2016.11.032. Accessed 14 Dec 2019.

Passel, Jeffrey S., and D’Vera Cohn. “U.S. Unauthorized Immigration Total Lowest In A Decade.” Pew Research Center’s Hispanic Trends Project, 2019,

Wolgin, Philip E. “The Immigration And Nationality Act Of 1965 Turns 50 – Center For American Progress”. Center For American Progress, 2015,