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Evolution of the national citizenry

By rafatxn
  • U.S. Constitution

    The Constitution presumes that there is national and state citizenship but does not specify a rule to determine whether someone is a citizen or not.
  • The First Naturalization Act

    The Naturalization Act of 1790 grants national citizenship to any free, white, adult alien, male or female, who had resided within the limits and jurisdiction of the United States for a period of 2 years.
  • Different Interpretations

    Different views emerge before the Civil War: some people believe that state citizenship depended on national citizenship, meaning that only state citizens were American citizens. This excluded people born in the District of Columbia and in federal territories. Another view said that the federal law gave an implicit rule that citizenship by birth identified American citizens.
  • The Act of 1802

    The Act reaffirms that people naturalized in state and territorial courts were given the same rights as the ones naturalized in a district or circuit court of the United States.
  • Mexican-American War

    Following the Mexican War, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo extends citizenship to everyone living in the territory that was annexed to the United States.
  • Revision of the Act of 1802

    Citizenship is automatically granted to alien wives of U.S. citizens.
  • Dred Scott v. Sandford

    The Supreme Court rules that Dred Scott, a former slave who sued the executor of his master’s estate in federal court, was not a citizen of any state. The Republican Party and Congress, led by President Abraham Lincoln, strongly opposed this decision.
  • 13th Amendment

    The 13th amendment ends slavery but does not grant full rights of citizenship to the newly free black people.
  • Civil Rights Act

    Towards the end of the Civil War, Congress passes the Civil Rights Act declaring that everyone who was born or naturalized in the country was a citizen of the United States and of the state they lived in, not dependent on race.
  • 14th Amendment

    The 14th amendment is rectified and determines that all persons born or naturalized in the US and that are subject to the federal jurisdiction are national and state citizens. The jurisdiction clause was largely debated as a limiting clause since it was understood that children of foreign diplomats and of Indian tribes were not granted birthright citizenship.
  • Former African Slaves

    The Naturalization Act of 1870 extends citizenship to former African slaves that were not born in the United States.
  • Race-based immigration

    The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 for the first time bans immigration based on race or nationality.
  • Birthright Citizenship

    The Supreme Court rules that any child born in the United States is a citizen regardless of race or parents’ immigration status.
  • Mexican immigration

    New industries in the Southwest and the Mexican Revolution increased the flow of immigrants coming from Mexico. In 1920s, there were about 50,000–100,000 migrants per year, compared to 20,000 migrants per year during the 1910s. This flow intensifies during the rest of the 20th century and throughout the 21st century.
  • American Samoa

    The territory is annexed to the United States, but the population is considered “non-citizen nationals”. Later on, it is determined that those born in other US territories are considered citizens at birth. Those born in American Samoa, however, are left out and considered nationals and not citizens.
  • Puerto Rico

    Residents of Puerto Rico are granted US citizenship by the Jones-Shafroth Act.
  • Quota Law

    Based on the country of origin, the first quota law limits the annual number of immigrants.
  • Native Americans

    The Indian Citizenship Act extends citizenship to all Native Americans.
  • Race-based citizenship

    The Immigration and Nationality Act removed race as a bar to immigration or citizenship.
  • Work and family-based immigration

    The Hart-Celler Act replace the quota system with a system based on skills and family relationships.
  • Amnesty

    Millions of immigrants that entered the country before January 1, 1982, are granted amnesty by the Immigration Reform and Control Act.
  • Latin America Immigration

    Immigrants arriving in the United States in the 21st century are from roughly every country in Latin America.
  • Terrorism

    After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the USA Patriot Act enhances national security and immigration provisions related to terrorism. Discrimination toward Muslims, immigration, border security, and the route to citizenship become central points of concern across the country.
  • Government structure

    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) assumes responsibilities for the administration of immigration benefit applications.
  • DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)

    President Obama creates a program to protect young people who entered the United States illegally as children. Although DACA holders do not have a lawful permanent residence in the country or a pathway to citizenship, they are able to legally remain in the country, work, and drive.
  • From DACA to Citizenship

    President Biden introduces the American Dream and Promise Act to provide a pathway to citizenship to approximately 800,000 young immigrants. The bill is still in Congress.