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A nation of Immigrants

  • 1790

    Congress passed a law defining who could become a citizen if a person was not born here. Citizenship was possible only for someone who was a “free white person.” This barred African and Asian immigrants from becoming citizens. After the civil war this was revised to allow people born in Africa to become citizens but still barred Asians.
  • Period: to

    1880 and 1920

    one of the heaviest periods of immigration when some 25 million immigrants came to the US. Most came from Southern and Eastern Europe, parts of the world that were unfamiliar to most Americans.
  • Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882

    Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882
    Chinese immigrants were taking gold in the California Gold rush so congress passed an act saying that no Chinese laborer could enter the US for ten years. This was renewed several times and stayed in force until WWII.
  • Quota Act of 1921

    Quota Act of 1921
    congress set up quotas favoring immigrants from northwestern Europe
  • Immigration Act of 1924

    Immigration Act of 1924
    this expanded the quota system. Immigration from any country is limited to two percent of its total numbers in the 1890 census. This favored groups that had been in the US longer.
  • Immigration Reform Act

    Immigration Reform Act
    this abolished the quota system based on national origin. Law was driven to reunite families and give priority to certain skills. Set up limits to 170,000 from eastern hemisphere and 120,000 from western hemisphere. Gave top priority to unmarried children of US citizens.
  • Immigration Reform and Control Act

    Immigration Reform and Control Act
    Immigration Reform and Control Act – Reagan made this to slow illegal immigration by punishing employers who knowingly hired undocumented workers and he wanted to offer a way for a long term undocumented immigrant to become legal. If they could show that they entered the US before January 1982 and lived here continuously, they could apply for amnesty.
  • Immigration Act of 1990

    Immigration Act of 1990
    said that no country could account for more than seven percent of total immigrants. The law also considered a person’s education and skills. In addition, it set up special categories for war refugees and for close relatives of American Citizens.
  • Immigration act of 1996

    Immigration act of 1996
    another law was passed to increase border patrol staff and stiffen penalties for creating false citizenship papers or smuggling undocumented workers.
  • 2007

    A bill was voted down that would fill short-term labor needs through a guest worker program and strengthen border control. It did not propose to track down and deport millions of undocumented workers who were already here. It would fine undocumented immigrants and require them to fulfill certain requirements before they could apply for citizenship. It was voted down because the penalties were not harsh enough.