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History of U.S. immigration policy (2 of 2)

Welcome back. As we began discussing in the last post, United States immigration policy can be complex and difficult to understand. But one way to understand it better is by looking at how the laws have evolved throughout history.

A recent article from ABC News highlighted "23 defining moments" that have shaped United States immigration policy. We began discussing some of the early significant landmarks in the last post, and we continue here with more recent developments in immigration law.

The Immigration Act of 1882 - This Act created the nation's first immigration service.

The Immigration Act of 1924 - A quota system for immigration was introduced to limit the number of immigrants coming from a certain nation. Western and Northern European nations were favored.

The Displaced Persons Act of 1948 - This was the first law aimed at providing relief to refugees. Hundreds of thousands of displaced Europeans were allowed to enter the United States following the war.

The McCarran-Walter Act (1952) - Racial and ethnic discrimination over naturalization was banned, allowing Asians to naturalize. Deportation was allowed for immigrants who broke the law. Immigration preference was still given to certain countries like Great Britain.

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 - Essentially overhauled and liberalized the immigration system by abolishing the quota system and moving to a system based on family unity and worker skills.

Plyler V. Doe (1982) - The Supreme Court held that undocumented immigrant children have a constitutional right to a public education.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act (1986) - Close to three million immigrants were granted citizenship, but it also became illegal to knowingly hire an undocumented worker.

The Immigration Act of 1990 - The president was given the power to grant "temporary protected status" to children of war-torn or natural disaster-stricken countries.

The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 - A ten-year ban was imposed for entering the country illegally and staying for more than one year.

Creation of Homeland Security (2002) - The department of Homeland Security was created in the wake of 9/11.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals 2012 - President Obama temporarily halted the deportation of young illegal immigrants who meet certain qualifications. They are also given work visas.

As you can see, the immigration laws in the United States have been continually changing for hundreds of years. It will be interesting to see what is next to come for immigration reform in the United States.

Source: ABC News, "23 Defining Moments in Immigration Policy History," Ted Hesson, Nov. 27, 2012

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