07 July 2006

Immigration A History

Anyone seeking to discuss immigration both legal and illegal should be familiar with the various changes in the law since the inception of the United States shown below the main article. At various times there have been provisions of extreme prejudice against certain racial groups that at the current time have been pretty well done away with.

While my mother's family arrived before the revolutionary war. My father didn't arrive until 1926 which meant his parents had to comply with the law as it was written in 1924. Among the things they had to declare upon leaving the ship were: name, age, sex, marital status, education, occupation, address of last place of residence, immediate destination, long term destination and name of contact/sponsor, and amount of money they brought into the country. All members of the family were examined for evidence of disease so that they carried no communicable illnesses. Anyone who wants to know how this turned out can go to Finding Jessie.

When looking at that list of items the United States has a right to know before admitting anyone, it makes me very angry that our President seems to feel that none of this is really necessary or that it isn't a major problem that anywhere from 12 to 20 million people are here without the immigration service knowing so much as their names.

Almost daily Bush tries to terrify us with another "war on terror" horror story, but the one element that would do the most to protect us from terrorists (gaining control of our ports and borders) is something he just ignores and says we "can't do".

This is rediculous. I do not begrudge anyone wanting to work and raise their family, but is it too much to ask that they do it without violating our laws.

Protect our borders first. Fine the bejeesus out of any employer using illegal alien labor at least $10,000 per employee. If they don't get the message try jail time. I realize that the big employers tend to be GOP contributors, and I know George doesn't usually pay attention to what is good for the country when it comes into conflict with a big donor, but do it anyway.

Insist that anyone here currently illegal submit a request for right to abide from outside the country (This could be fast tracked for those with jobs and exceptions could be made for those who have refugee status of some sort.)

Anyone providing humanitarian services will not suffer any penalty, but they should be required to determine and report status.I wouldn't deny an education to a child who was here illegally through no fault of their own, but their parents or guardian must regularize their status.
No student should receive "in state" benefits for college unless their status has been cleared.

Any child born to someone in illegal status will be a U.S. citizen, but the parent will have the choice to return to the country of origin until the child is 18 when they can petition for entry on their own, or the parents can leave the child with a legal guardian until they attain their own legal status from outside the U.S.

These postions will make some of my gentler compatriots angry, but think about it: Someone shows up on your doorstep, walks in without your permission, takes up residence in one of your bedrooms, sends you all the bills for their education and medical care and then tells you it's okay because they will weed your garden and pay taxes on the salary you give them to do so. That is illegal immigration.

Our doors should be wide open to those simply seeking a better way of life and honest work to do, but have the courtesy to knock on the door and introduce yourself before moving in.


Naturalization Act of 1790 Stipulated that "any alien, being a free white person, may be admitted to become a citizen of the United States"

1848 - Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo - Settled questions of citizenship following War with Mexico.

1882 The Chinese Exclusion Act prohibited certain laborers from immigrating to the United States.

1885 and 1887 Alien Contract Labor laws which prohibited certain laborers from immigrating to the United States.

1891 The Federal Government assumed the task of inspecting, admitting, rejecting, and processing all immigrants seeking admission to the U.S.

1892 On January 2, a new Federal US immigration station opened on Ellis Island in New York Harbor. See the history of Ellis Island

1903 This Act restated the 1891 provisions concerning land borders and called for rules covering entry as well as inspection of aliens crossing the Mexican border.

1907 The US immigration Act of 1907 reorganized the states bordering Mexico (Arizona, New Mexico and a large part of Texas) into Mexican Border District to stem the flow of immigrants into the U.S.

1917 - 1924 A series of laws were enacted to further limit the number of new immigrants. These laws established the quota system and imposed passport requirements. They expanded the categories of excludable aliens and banned all Asians except Japanese.

1940 The Alien Registration Act required all aliens (non-U.S. citizens) within the United States to register with the Government and receive an Alien Registration Receipt Card (the predecessor of the "green card").

1950 Passage of the Internal Security Act which rendered the Alien Registration Receipt Card even more valuable. Immigrants with legal status had their cards replaced with what generally became known as the "green card" (Form I-151).

1952 Act Established the modern day US immigration system. It created a quota system which imposes limits on a per-country basis. It also established the preference system that gave priority to family members and people with special skills.

1968 Act Eliminated US immigration discrimination based on race, place of birth, sex and residence. It also officially abolished restrictions on Oriental US immigration.

1986 Act Focused on curtailing illegal US immigration. It legalized hundred of thousands of illegal immigrants. It also introduced the employer sanctions program which fines employers for hiring illegal workers. It also passed tough laws to prevent bogus marriage fraud.

1990 Act Established an annual limit for certain categories of immigrants. It was aimed at helping U.S. businesses attract skilled foreign workers; thus, it expanded the business class categories to favor persons who can make educational, professional or financial contributions. It created the Immigrant Investor Program.

USA Patriot Act 2001 : Uniting and Strengthening America by providing appropriate tools required to intercept and obstruct terrorismCreation of the USCIS2003 : As of March 1, 2003, the US immigration and Naturalization Service became part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The department’s new U.S. Citizenship and US immigration Services (USCIS) function is to handle US immigration services and benefits, including citizenship, applications for permanent residence, non-immigrant applications, asylum, and refugee services. US immigration enforcement functions are now under the Department's Border and Transportation Security Directorate, known as the Bureau of US immigration and Customs Enforcement (BICE)


AlanBoss said...

Jamie, Good article. It reinforces my belief that the answer to the problems of immigration is to enforce the existing laws.

Anonymous said...

Jamie: You are Gentlewoman and a scholar!

blueINdallas said...

Well said & exactly my view of the issue...but then, you already knew that.

Bear said...

Immigration is definitely a topic worthy of better debate than it is getting right now. I am still up in the air over it. Much of my family legally immigrated in the 1960's from Haiti. I can't help but think it was my grandfather's working for the US government that helped the process along. I have also known people who came here illegally. When you consider that all they were looking for was a better life for themselves and their families, I don't begrudge them one bit. They work hard and do whatever they can to assimilate to the local community.

I agree that we need to improve border security, but we need to do something to make it easier for people who want to legitimately be Americans, come here and be productive.

I do want to see an emphasis on English language study. While it is nice to have Spanish as a crutch, we should not have to cowtow to segments of the population that refuse to learn English. They should work to fit us, not the other way around.

Durward Discussion said...


That is a sensitive response and I agree that there needs to be an emphasis on English. No one can fully assimilate into a society without a facility in the language.

Green cards need to be fast tracked, but at present the easy availability of illegal labor is unfair to those living in fear of deportation and unfair to citizens who are seeing their wages depressed. The only winners are the businesses that take advantage of both.

eProf2 said...

Thanks, Jamie, for the chronology of immigration in the United States and provided your reader with some interesting propositions to control US borders today.

While you state the laws accurately, you left out the impact of US wars against Mexico and Native populations where mostly Anglos simply pushed aside the legitimate, native born populations occupying the lands now known as the US. Even US wars abroad have had an impact on population movements, i.e., the Vietnam war.

Wars and border shifts change a lot of immigration patterns. The period in US history known as "manifest destiny" is so readily accepted by the writers of US history that any similar patterns from migrants is then rejected as an assault on US prerogatives. I believe we in the US today are not only falling prey to the scare tactics of politicians who want to act tough on immigrants and national security for re-election purposes but also falling prey to fearing anything "foreign." There was wide-spread fear of the Irish, the Poles, the Italians, the Chinese, the Vietnamese, and, today, I suspect Mexicans, Arabs, Haitians, Indians, and many other migrants from places near and far.

As an advocate of humanity without borders, I have to reject your advocacy of sending people back to their homelands on national sovereignty grounds. Nationalism and sovereignty are losing out in 21st century politics to a global economy and global movement of peoples in search of peaceful pursuit of work and relative security in the context of democratic principles. Only authoritarian regimes will, and do, control their borders through fear and death.

Call me a dreamer but I can imagine a world of cooperation and peace. Decent people seeking decent work in order to provide for their families. Criminal behavior as defined by global standards should be pursued and enforced by punishments agreed to by all peoples. Capital crimes, robbery, slavery, et cetera, I'm sure, would have a common understanding of law breaking.

I watched the Discovery manuevers the other day while they were trying to dock to the international space station over Spain. You know what? I couldn't see any borders surrounding Spain or inside of Spain either. Interesting to view the earth from space and not see borders and to know that decent people everywhere are trying their best to survive.

I know, too, that we will not solve this issue by building bigger fences or by sending millions of people back to where they came from or where their parents or grandparents came from in the short term. So, I've reconciled my position to enjoy the fusion of cultures and find the good in people instead of living in fear of new people from different parts of the globe who are migrating here.

Again, thank you for the thought provoking post. I hope we can continue to agree to disagree and to continue to try and find common ground on this perplexing issue.

Durward Discussion said...


I appreciate your thoughts on the subject. You will note that I included the Treaty of Hidalgo in addition to those laws that were strictly about immigration. You make a valid point about "manifest destiny", throw in the war in Mexico and the "54/40 or fight" incursions to the north and you have a population moving west that was predatory in relation to the already settled inhabitants.

Our modern borders have been set for a long time. If all the idealists in the world could make their dreams come true, then there would be no nations only cooperative populations. Unfortunately this Utopian dream usually comes crashing down on the rocks of self interest. We have to deal with what is while trying to move towards a better world.

Without an improvement in the economies to our South or the Asian countries impacted by recent wars, there is no the flood will stop. That makes it imperative that we control our borders. With a half billion people to the South and more than that to the east, it is not a matter of prejudice to say there simply isn't room for everyone without destroying our own country. A better long term solution is the improvement of conditions world wide.

eProf2 said...

We are in agreement, aren't we? Economic conditions have to get better around the world. Political conditions have to get better around the world. And, someone has to dream big! Let it be me!