The History of U.S. Immigration Reform and Border Security Essay

2596 Words 11 Pages
Throughout U.S. history, varying degrees of immigration control have dictated whom and how individuals are able to enter and gain citizenship to this country. For centuries, people from all over the world have immigrated here with the hopes of living a more prosperous and independent life. Beginning at the turn of the 17th century, European settlers started colonizing parts of the east; a movement which has since been followed by more than four-hundred years of exponential growth. Like most other foreign and domestic matters, public policy has been created, altered, and adapted to better regulate immigration into the U.S. and further develop the means by which we secure our borders; a highly debatable and complex topic which falls under …show more content…
This nationwide push for equal rights was responsible for bringing to light the notion that an immigration quota system based on nationality and race was not only discriminatory but unjust. In 1965, the Immigration and Nationality Act, also known as the Hart-Cellar Act, helped to abolish the national origins quota system which had structured U.S. immigration Policy since 1921 (Starkweather, 2007). The agendas set by many of the civil rights advocates played a large role in encouraging government action. Although signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, his predecessor, John F. Kennedy was primarily responsible for its manufacture; once referring to such a quota system as “nearly intolerable” (Ludden, 2006). According to the Center for Immigration Studies (1995), provisions of the act allocated 170,000 visas to countries lying in the Eastern Hemisphere (capped at 20,000 per country) and 120,000 to those in the Western which ultimately increased the annual immigrant ceiling to 290,000. Immigrants who were excluded from the count included minors, spouses, and parents of U.S. citizens over the age of 21. This new system was also preferential to close relatives of American citizens and permanent resident aliens, individuals possessing desirable occupational skills, and refugees (FAIR, 2006)

During the mid to late 70s, refugee-related matters became the prevailing congressional concern;

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