Immigration Policies

An overview of 20th century American immigration policies.

This paper looks at how, as more and more people of different races and cultures enter the United States, and how, as the ethnic composition of the country changes, immigration becomes a more intensely debated issue. It examines how some Americans favor tighter immigration restrictions and argue that immigrants take jobs away from U.S. citizens, drain social services, and resist learning English, and how others, however, point to America’s historic commitment to immigration and believe that immigrants keep the nation strong, economically competitive, and culturally rich. It provides a timeline of policies from the purchase of Ellis Island in 1808 to the 1994 Proposition 167 in California, which would deny illegal aliens all public social services, public non-emergency health care based on financial needs, and public education.
During the later part of the twentieth century, U.S. immigration policy has addressed specific modern-day problems. In some instances, the federal government has set limits on the number of immigra who are allowed to reside in the country. The Refugee Act of 1980 legally defined a refugee as someone who flees a country because of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion (U.S. Immigration Policy 1995). The act allows the president to admit refugees in a time of emergency and also places a limit on the number of refugees allowed to enter.”