Major Issues, Events and Legislation Related to United States Immigration

By jechols
  • The Naturalization Act of 1790

    The Naturalization Act of 1790
    This act established a uniform rule of naturalization and a two-year residency requirement for aliens who were "free white persons" of "good moral character."
  • The Naturalization Act of 1795

    The Naturalization Act of 1795
    This legislation restricted citizenship to "free white persons" who had lived in the country for five years and renounced allegiance to their former countries.
  • Naturalization Act of 1798

    Naturalization Act of 1798
    Considered one of the Alien and Sedition Acts, the Naturalization Act of 1798 permitted Federalist President John Adams to deport foreigners deemed to be dangerous and increased the residency requirement to 14 years preventing immigrants, who predominantly voted for the Republican party, from becoming citizens.
  • Importation of Slavery Banned

    Importation of Slavery Banned
    The importation of slaves into the United States is officially banned, though it continued illegally long after the ban.
  • Irish Potato Famine

    Irish Potato Famine
    Crop failures in Germany, social turbulence triggered by rapid industrialization, political unrest in Europe, and the Irish potato famine led to a new period of mass immigration to the United States
  • Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

    Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
    The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the Mexican-American War and extended citizenship to the approximately 80,000 Mexicans living in Texas, California and the American Southwest.
  • 1850 United States Census

    1850 United States Census
    For the first time, the United States Census surveyed the "nativity" of citizens.
  • 1854 Elections

    1854 Elections
    The Know Knothings, a nativist political party seeking to increase restrictions on immigration, win significant victories in Congress, a sign of popular dissatisfaction with growing immigration from Catholic Ireland. Protestant Americans feared that a growing Catholic immigration would place American society under control of the Pope.
  • The Anti-Coolie Act

    The Anti-Coolie Act
    The original act was enacted by the state of California. Its proper title is "An act to protect free white labor against competiton with Chinese coolie labor, and to discourage the immigration of the Chinese into the state of California." The act exempted Chinese workers engaged in the production or manufacture of sugar, rice, coffee or tea. Federal legislation known by the same name was passed that same year.
  • The Homestead Act

    The Homestead Act
    The Homestead Act provided free plots of up to 160 acres of western land to settlers who agreed to develop and live on it for at least five years, thereby spurring an influx of immigrants from overpopulated countries in Europe seeking land of their own.
  • Transcontinental Railroad Spurs Immigration

    Transcontinental Railroad Spurs Immigration
    The Central Pacific hired Chinese laborers and the Union Pacific hired Irish laborers to construct the first transcontinental railroad.
  • New York City draft riots

    New York City draft riots
    Riots against the Federal draft in New York City involve many immigrants opposed to compulsory military service.
  • 15th Amendment

    15th Amendment
    The 15th Amendment when ratified granted voting rights to citizens, regardless of "race, color, or previous condition of servitude."
  • The Naturalization Act of 1870

    The Naturalization Act of 1870
    This Naturalization Act expanded citizenship rights to both whites and African Americans, though Asians were still excluded. Too late for Dredd Scott.
  • The Chinese Exclusion Act

    The Chinese Exclusion Act
    This Act restricted all Chinese immigration to the United States for a period of ten years.
  • Immigration Act of 1882

    Immigration Act of 1882
    The Immigration Act of 1882 levied a tax of 50 cents on all immigrants landing at US ports and made several categories of immigrants ineligible for citizenship, including "lunatics" and people likely to become public charges.
  • Alien Contract Labor Law

    Alien Contract Labor Law
    This law prohibited any company or individual from bringing foreigners into the United States under contract to perform labor. The only exceptions were those immigrants brought to perform domestic service and skilled workers needed to help establish a new trade or industry in the US.
  • Statue of Liberty Dedication

    Statue of Liberty Dedication
    The Statue of Liberty is dedicated in New York Harbor.The dedication was held on the afternoon of October 28, 1886, in a ceremony presided over by President Grover Cleveland. The Statue has become an enduring symbol of freedom and democracy. For many European immigrants it provided their first visual image of America.
  • The Geary Act

    The Geary Act
    The Geary Act etended the Chinese Exclusion Act for ten more years, added the requirement that all Chinese residents in the US carry permits, and excluded them from serving as witnesses in court and from bail in Habeus Corpus proceedings.
  • The Anarchist Exclusion Act

    The Anarchist Exclusion Act
    The Anarchist Exclusion Act was passed by the United States Congress in 1903 to prevent the immigration of and to allow the deportation of immigrants to the United States who subscribed to anarchist ideas. Officially titled, "An Act To regulate the immigration of aliens into the United States", the act followed the September 1901 assassination of U.S. President William McKinley by Leon Czolgosz, an American-born son of Polish immigrants.
  • Expatriation Act

    Expatriation Act
    The Act declared that an American woman who married a foreign national would lose her US citizenship.
  • Immigration Act of 1917

    Immigration Act of 1917
    Congress enacted a literacy requirement for immigrants by overriding President Woodrow Wilson's veto. The law required immigrants to be able to read 40 words in some language and banned immigration from Asia, except for Japan and the Philippines.
  • Jones-Shafroth Act

    Jones-Shafroth Act
    This law granted US citizenship to Puerto Ricans, provided that they could be recruited by the US military.
  • The Emergency Quota Act

    The Emergency Quota Act
    The Emergency Quota Act restricted immigration from a given country to 3% of the number of people from that country living in the US in 1910.
  • The Cable Act

    The Cable Act
    Also known as the "Married Women’s Independent Nationality Act", The Cable Act partially repealed the Expatriation Act, but declared that an American woman who marries an Asian still loses her US citizenship.
  • The Immigration Act of 1924

    The Immigration Act of 1924
    The Immigration Act of 1924, or Johnson–Reed Act, including the National Origins Act, Asian Exclusion Act limited annual European immigration to 2% of the number of people from that country living in the United States in 1890. The Act greatly reduced immigration from Southern and Eastern European nationalities that had only small populations in the US in 1890.
  • Tydings-McDuffie Act

    Tydings-McDuffie Act
    This law granted the Philippines independence from the United States, but stripped Filipinos of US citizenship and severely limited Filipino immigration.
  • Alien Registration Act

    Alien Registration Act
    Officially known as the Smith Act, this law required all aliens within to register and receive an Alien Registration Receipt Card (the predecessor of the "Green Card."
  • McCarran-Walter Act

    McCarran-Walter Act
    The McCarran-Walter Act created a quota system with limits on a country by country basis, established a preference system giving priority to family members and people with specific skills, liberalized Asian immigration, and increased the power of the government to deport illegal immigrants suspected of Communist sympathies.
  • Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965

    Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965
    This law discontinued quotas based on national origin, while giving prefernce to those having US relatives. For the first time, immigration from Mexico was restricted. Also known as the Hart-Cellar Act, it not only allowed more individuals from third world countries to enter the US, but also entailed a separate quota for refugees. The significance of this bill was that future immigrants were to be welcomed because of their skills or professions, not country of origin.
  • Immigration and Reform Control Act

    Immigration and Reform Control Act
    This legislation granted amnesty to illegal immigrants residing in the US prior to 1982, but made it a crime to hire an illegal immigrant. Ultra-conservative supporters of President Ronald Reagan protested against his signing the bill into law.
  • Immigration Act of 1990

    Immigration Act of 1990
    This legislation modified and expanded the Act of 1965. It was intended to help US businesses attract "skilled foreign workers" who could make "educational, professional, or financial contributions" to the US economy.
  • The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act

    The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act
    This Act strengthened border enforcement and made it more difficult for foreigners to gain asylum in the US. The law established income requirements for sponsors of illegal immigrants. with the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act. Congress made citizenship a condition of access to public benefits for most immigrants.
  • The USA Patriot Act

    The USA Patriot Act
    Among other security measures implemented after the 911 terrorist attacks, this law reorganized US immigration enforcement, replacing the Immigration and Naturalization Service with the Citizenship and Immigration Services under the newly formed Department of Homeland Security. It also required passports to be machine readable. The contrived acronym stands for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001.
  • The REAL ID Act

    The REAL ID Act
    The REAL ID Act of 2005 modified federal law pertaining to security, authentication, and issuance procedures and standards for state driver's licenses and ID cards as well as various immigration issues relating to possible terrorism.
  • Arizona Immigration Law

    Arizona Immigration Law
    Arizona's Senate Bill 1070 criminalizes illegal immigration by defining it as trespassing and allows law enforcement officials to stop and question persons they suspect of being undocumented.