Evolv­ing stan­dards:

San Francisco Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - Sources: Statue of Lib­erty-El­lis Is­land Foun­da­tion; U.S. Cit­i­zen­ship and Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vices; David Reimers, “Un­wel­come Strangers: Amer­i­can Iden­tity and the Turn against Im­mi­gra­tion;” Philip Martin, UC Davis; Mi­gra­tion Pol­icy In­sti­tute; Pew Re­search Cent

How im­mi­gra­tion laws have changed.

The United States has al­ways at­tracted large num­bers of im­mi­grants, of­ten driven by eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal events at home and abroad. Large ex­pan­sions are usu­ally fol­lowed by re­stric­tions and re­trench­ment. U.S. laws of­ten have led to unan­tic­i­pated changes in the na­ture and com­po­si­tion of im­mi­gra­tion flows.

Open bor­ders: From the found­ing un­til the 1880s, bor­ders were open un­der the Nat­u­ral­iza­tion Act of 1790 that said, “Any alien, be­ing a free white per­son, may be ad­mit­ted to be­come a cit­i­zen of the United States.” The Ir­ish Potato Famine of the 1840s and 1850s and the Cal­i­for­nia Gold Rush in 1849 drew many. From 1820 to 1880, Ger­many sent 3 mil­lion, Ire­land 2.8 mil­lion and Bri­tain 2 mil­lion. Chi­nese la­bor­ers be­gan to ar­rive through San Fran­cisco in the 1850s to build the rail­roads. The Great Wave of Euro­pean mi­gra­tion peaked from 1900 to 1910, be­fore the out­break of World War I. From 1880 to 1930, 4.6 mil­lion ar­rived from Italy, 4 mil­lion from the Aus­tro-Hun­gar­ian Em­pire, 3.3 mil­lion from Rus­sia, 2.8 mil­lion from Ger­many, 2.3 mil­lion each from Canada and Bri­tain, and 1.1 mil­lion from Swe­den.

Im­mi­gra­tion Act of 1882:

Along with the 1907 Gen­tle­men’s Agree­ment with Ja­pan and the Alien Con­tract La­bor laws of 1885 and 1887, this law banned Asian la­bor­ers from the United States. Congress also en­acted a 50-cent head tax on all im­mi­grants and banned en­try of “any con­vict, lu­natic, id­iot, or any per­son un­able to take care of him or her­self with­out be­com­ing a pub­lic charge.”

Na­tional ori­gins quo­tas, 192464:

These re­stric­tions were en­acted dur­ing an iso­la­tion­ist pe­riod af­ter World War I and a back­lash to the Great Wave of South­ern and Eastern Euro­pean mi­gra­tion. Quo­tas for each na­tion­al­ity were set at 2 per­cent of the num­ber of for­eign-born per­sons of that na­tion­al­ity re­sid­ing in the United States in 1890. All but 14 per­cent of the quo­tas went to North­ern and Western Europe. The Western Hemi­sphere was ex­empt. Many Mexican la­bor­ers en­tered dur­ing this time to ex­pand and main­tain the rail­roads. The ban on im­mi­grants from the “Asia-Pa­cific Tri­an­gle” con­tin­ued un­til China be­came a U.S. ally in World War II. In 1952, many coun­tries in Asia and Africa were given to­ken al­lot­ments of 100 visas.

Bracero pro­gram, 1942-64:

In­tended to meet farm la­bor short­ages dur­ing World War II, the pro­gram lasted 22 years and brought in 4.5 mil­lion work­ers from Mex­ico. It reached an an­nual peak of 450,000 work­ers in 1956. It proved un­wieldy as well as harsh, and is widely be­lieved to have laid the foun­da­tion for il­le­gal Mexican im­mi­gra­tion. It also gave birth to Ce­sar Chavez's United Farm Work­ers of Amer­ica. Im­mi­gra­tion and Na­tion­al­ity Act of 1965:

En­acted shortly af­ter the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Vot­ing Rights Act in an era of lib­er­al­iza­tion, it abol­ished the na­tional-ori­gins quo­tas. The Civil Rights Act in­cludes the phrase “na­tional ori­gin” as a pro­hib­ited class of dis­crim­i­na­tion. Ini­ti­ated by Pres­i­dent John Kennedy, who wrote the pam­phlet, “A Na­tion of Im­mi­grants,” it was car­ried to en­act­ment af­ter his as­sas­si­na­tion by his younger brother, Mas­sachusetts Sen. Ed­ward Kennedy. The act cre­ated the struc­ture of today's im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem based on pref­er­ences for fam­ily re­uni­fi­ca­tion and to a lesser ex­tent job skills. It also es­tab­lished the first quo­tas on Western Hemi­sphere im­mi­gra­tion. Spon­sors ex­pected the mea­sure's fam­ily uni­fi­ca­tion pro­vi­sions to open im­mi­gra­tion to Ital­ians, Poles and other Euro­peans ex­cluded by the na­tion­alo­ri­gins sys­tem. In­stead, im­mi­gra­tion shifted to Asia and Latin Amer­ica. Refugees:

They were used as a for­eign pol­icy tool dur­ing the Cold War and in re­sponse to wars. Pres­i­dent Dwight Eisen­hower ap­plied his pa­role power to ad­mit 30,000 Hun­gar­ian refugees in 1956. Pres­i­dent Lyn­don John­son wel­comed Cubans upon sign­ing the 1965 act the same day he said, “The days of un­lim­ited im­mi­gra­tion are over.” Pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan spurned refugees from El Sal­vador and Gu­atemala, where Marx­ist rebels were bat­tling pro-U.S. gov­ern­ments, but wel­comed Ira­ni­ans. Af­ter the Viet­nam War, more than 1 mil­lion Viet­namese, Lao­tians and Cam­bo­di­ans were ad­mit­ted. In 2016, nearly 85,000 refugees were ad­mit­ted, with the largest num­bers com­ing from the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo, Syria, Myan­mar and Iraq.

Im­mi­gra­tion Re­form and Con­trol Act of 1986:

Backed by Pres­i­dent Rea­gan, this law was in­tended to re­duce the num­ber of un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants, whose pop­u­la­tion had reached 5 mil­lion, through a com­bi­na­tion of amnesty and sanc­tions against em­ploy­ers who hired them. De­bate ex­tended over a decade. Em­ployer sanc­tions soon failed be­cause of ram­pant doc­u­ment fraud and a gen­eral un­will­ing­ness to en­force them. A spe­cial, looser amnesty for agri­cul­ture pro­vided five times more le­gal­iza­tions than an­tic­i­pated. Many of the farm­worker ap­pli­ca­tions were be­lieved to be fraud­u­lent, but im­mi­gra­tion agents were too over­whelmed to check. No al­lowance was made for fu­ture flows, lead­ing to fur­ther il­le­gal en­tries. Many fam­i­lies re­mained in a “mixed sta­tus,” partly le­gal im­mi­grants and partly those who had en­tered the U.S. il­le­gally. Congress ex­tended the amnesty in 1990 to in­clude im­mi­grants' fam­ily mem­bers.

Im­mi­gra­tion Act of 1990:

The act amounted to a sig­nif­i­cant over­haul that in­creased le­gal im­mi­gra­tion by about 40 per­cent, adding sev­eral em­ploy­ment-based visas while keep­ing fam­ily pref­er­ences largely in­tact. Many of today’s well known work visas such as the H-1B for the tech­nol­ogy in­dus­try were cre­ated by this law.

Di­ver­sity lot­tery:

An ob­scure pro­vi­sion of the 1990 over­haul, the “di­ver­sity visa” was in­tended to cor­rect the ex­clu­sion of Ir­ish and Ital­ians by the 1965 act. By the time the law passed, how­ever, Ital­ians had lost in­ter­est in em­i­grat­ing. The day it took ef­fect, the Mer­ri­field Post Of­fice in Vir­ginia, where ap­pli­ca­tions were sent, re­ceived 1 mil­lion ap­pli­ca­tions for 55,000 slots. A few years later, the Ir­ish also lost in­ter­est as their econ­omy boomed. Now used mainly by im­mi­grants from Africa and Cen­tral Asia, the pro­gram works on a ran­dom lot­tery lim­ited to coun­tries that do not send large num­bers of im­mi­grants through other pro­grams.

Il­le­gal Im­mi­gra­tion Re­form and Im­mi­grant Re­spon­si­bil­ity Act of 1996:

A tough bor­der crack­down ini­ti­ated by the Repub­li­can-led Congress and signed by Demo­cratic Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, the 1996 law was a back­lash to the amnesty en­acted 10 years ear­lier. Spend­ing on bor­der en­force­ment soared. Com­bined with 1986 bor­der mea­sures, bor­der en­force­ment spend­ing rose from $1 bil­lion to nearly $5 bil­lion a year. Spend­ing for de­ten­tion and re­moval grew more than 750 per­cent. Bar­ri­ers were erected in San Diego and El Paso, Texas. The law had the unan­tic­i­pated re­sult of in­ter­rupt­ing cir­cu­lar mi­gra­tion pat­terns and trap­ping Mexican im­mi­grants in the United States. Il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion con­tin­ued to rise un­til the Great Re­ces­sion in 2008. Since then, unau­tho­rized im­mi­gra­tion from Mex­ico has de­clined, while in­creas­ing from other re­gions of the world, es­pe­cially Cen­tral Amer­ica and Asia, leav­ing the over­all level roughly un­changed. Se­cure Fence Act of 2006: Passed with over­whelm­ing bi­par­ti­san sup­port, the law added about 700 miles of fenc­ing and walls to ear­lier phys­i­cal bar­ri­ers con­structed in San Diego. Crit­ics said the law mil­i­ta­rized the south­ern bor­der and frag­mented habi­tats, while mi­grants skirted the fence by us­ing more danger­ous desert routes or by breach­ing, tun­nel­ing un­der or scaling the bar­ri­ers.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.