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Historical Timeline

History of Legal and Illegal Immigration to the United States

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1607 - Beginning of Colonial Immigration; English Settlers Arrive in America

"[T]he settlement on the James River in 1607 marked the beginning of a nation--a nation that was certainly English in its foundation, whatever may be said of the superstructure. Virginia, New England, Maryland, the Carolinas, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Georgia were begun by Englishmen; and New England, Virginia, and Maryland remained almost entirely English throughout the seventeenth century and well into the eighteenth. 'Foreigners' began early to straggle into the colonies. But not until the eighteenth century was well under way did they come in appreciable numbers, and even then the great bulk of these non-English newcomers were from the British Isles, of Welsh, Scotch, Irish, and Scotch-Irish extraction."

Immigration Restriction: A Study of the Opposition to and Regulation of Immigration into the United States, 1927

1619 - Importation of African Slaves Begins

"The continuous presence of persons of African descent on soil that became the United States begins in 1619 with the arrival of twenty Africans at Jamestown, Virginia, aboard a Dutch warship from the West Indies. Their arrival was a part of the trans-Atlantic slave trade; lasting almost four centuries (1501-1873). Although the twenty Africans... arrived by virtue of the slave trade, they actually became indentured servants, Thus, they eventually gained their freedom, and some later actually owned slaves themselves... By the end of the colonial period, blacks numbered about five hundred thousand and constituted their largest proportion of the total American population ever, nearly 20 percent."

Larry A. Greene and Lenworth Gunther, The New Jersey African- American History Curriculum Guide: Grades 9 to 12, 1997

1637 - Massachusetts Requires Permission to Host Aliens

In May of 1637, the General Court of Massachusetts ordered that no town or person in the colony should receive or host any alien without permission from the authorities. John Winthrop, Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, defended the 1637 court order as follows:

"If we heere be a corporation established by free consent, if the place of our cohabitation be our owne, then no man hath a right to come into us without our consent... If we are bound to keep off whatsoever appears to tend to our ruine or damage, then may we lawfully refuse to receive such whose dispositions suite not with ours and whose society (we know) will be hurtful to us."

"A Defence of an Order of the Court," in Emerson Edward Proper, Colonial Immigration Laws - A Study of the Regulation of Immigration by the English Colonies in America, 1900

1656 - Anti-Quaker Immigration Sentiments Popular but Quakers Still Immigrate

"Although most of the settlements were made by Englishmen, they nevertheless differed fundamentally in character and purpose, and pursued, in some instances, widely varying policies in the admission of new settlers... For a period of several years, beginning with 1656, the records of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and indeed of all of the New England Colonies, except Rhode Island, are filled with legislation designed to prevent the coming of the Quakers and the spread of their 'accursed tenets.' Whippings, imprisonment, banishment, and in a few instances capital punishment, were the order of the day.' To what extent these various laws restricted the immigration of this sect, it is, of course, impossible to ascertain. That they were not prohibitive, and consequently did not meet the expectations of the authorities, is painfully evident; for, in spite of the severe penalties, members of that sect continued to come."

Colonial Immigration Laws - A Study of the Regulation of Immigration by the English Colonies in America, 1900

1670 - 10,000 Indentured Servants Kidnapped from England and Sent to the Colonies

"[Most] indentured servants or redemptioners... were brought under compulsion; the others came voluntarily. The former consisted of convicted criminals and kidnaped persons... Boys and girls of the poorer classes were hustled on board ships and virtually sold into slavery for a term of years. Kidnaping or 'spiriting' became a fine art under Charles II. Slums and alleys were raked for material to stock the plantations... About 1670 no fewer than ten thousand persons were 'spirited' away from England in one year. One kidnaper testified in 1671 that he had sent five hundred persons a year to the colonies for twelve years and another testified that he had sent 840 in one year. The government was slow to strike at this infamous traffic... Ship masters made an enormous profit from this traffic."

Immigration Restriction: A Study of the Opposition to and Regulation of Immigration into the United States, 1927

1700 - 222,500 White and 27,500 Black Inhabitants Live in the Colonies

"In 1700, nearly a century after Jamestown, only about 250,000 white and black inhabitants populated the colonies... The vast majority of the white inhabitants were either born in England or descended from English immigrants. Only about 11 percent [27,500] of the non-Native American population were black."

Hopeful Journeys: German Immigration, Settlement, and Political Culture in Colonial America, 1717-1775, 1996

Mar. 12, 1700 - Massachusetts Prohibits "Lame, Impotent, or Infirm Persons" from Entering

"Colonial immigration laws... set precedents that were followed in subsequent national legislation. Colonial Americans, who viewed strangers as legitimate objects of suspicion, cautiously allowed settlers but were wary of those of religious difference (i.e., Catholics/Jesuits) or those who might become public charges. The influx of Germans and Quakers in the early 1700s led to specific provincial immigration laws... The [Mar. 12, 1700 Province Laws of Massachusetts], enacted nine years after the two Massachusetts Bay colonies unified into one province, demonstrates their economic concerns. Lame, impotent, or infirm persons were prohibited from entering without providing security that the town into which they settled would not be charged with their support. That first major provincial law was amended in 1722 [Province Laws, Massachusetts, June 29, 1722] to increase the bond to secure that no immigrant would become a public charge and specifying the requirement of masters of ships to submit their list to town selectmen or the town treasurer."

Michael C. Lemay and Elliott R. Barkan, PU.S. Immigration and Naturalization Laws and Issues: A Documentary History, 1999

1717-1769 - 36,000 British Convicts Transported to America after Passage of Transportation Act of 1717

"The late 17th and 18th centuries saw a decline in the 'older' punishments in favour of fines, prison and, a new solution to the problem: transportation. From the Transportation Act of 1717 up to 1769, 36,000 convicts were sent to British colonies in America. 70% of offenders at the Old Bailey in London in this period were transported... Under the 'Bloody Code,' courts were looking for a punishment which was not as extreme as hanging, but tougher than a fine. In the absence of proper prisons, transportation seemed the answer and was used for over a hundred years. In the 18th century convicts were transported to America. After US independence in 1776, however, this option was closed and the British government looked for another destination... Australia."

"Crime and Punishment: Transportation," (accessed July 17, 2009)

Sep. 17, 1717 - Pennsylvania Enacts Oath of Allegiance for German Immigrants

At a Sep. 17, 1717 meeting, Williams Keith, Governor of Pennsylvania, said that foreigners from Germany settled in Pennsylvania without any certificates demonstrating their identity, origin and intention. Thus, he and the provincial Council ordered that those aliens take the following oath of allegiance: "We the subscribers, natives and late inhabitants of the Palatinate upon the Rhine and places adjacent, having transported ourselves into this Province of Pennsylvania, a colony subject to the Crown of Great Britain, in hopes and expectation of finding a retreat and peaceable settlement therein: Do solemnly promise and engage that we will be faithful and bear true allegiance to his present Majesty king George II, and his successors, and will be faithful to the Proprietors of this Province; and that we will demean ourselves peaceably to all his said Mejesty's subjects, and strictly observe and conform to the laws of England and of this Province to the utmost of our power and best of our understanding."

"Province of Pennsylvania's Oath of Allegiance," Colonial Immigration Laws - A Study of the Regulation of Immigration by the English Colonies in America, 1900

Sep. 21, 1727-1729 - Pennsylvania’s Immigration Law Ignored by Ship Masters; New Tax and Health Inspections Imposed on Immigrants

"[A]n act was passed September 21, 1727, in Pennsylvania at the suggestion of the colonial governor, who feared that the peace and security of the province was endangered by so many foreigners coming in, ignorant of the language, settling together and making a separate people... It seems that although this law remained in force for a while, it was virtually a dead letter, for the ship masters did not get the required license to bring in the immigrants, and yet the latter were always admitted... [A] tax of forty shilling was laid on each immigrant by a law passed in 1729 which is quite an early instance of the use of a head tax as a restrictive measure... In order to prevent sick and diseased persons (there were many of them) from entering the colony, a law was passed requiring all ships to anchor a mile from the city until inspected by the port physician."

Immigration Restriction: A Study of the Opposition to and Regulation of Immigration into the United States, 1927

1740 - British Parliament Enacts the Plantation Act, Which Serves as Model for Future US Naturalization Acts

"In 1740 the British Parliament passed an act which came to be known as the Plantation Act --meaning the colonies--that sought to regularize the naturalization process. As such, it was also intended to encourage immigration to the American colonies. Under British law at the time, aliens could not engage in British commerce without severe penalties. This aspect was not rigorously enforced in the colonies, but nonetheless such British law made it advantageous for immigrants of the colonies to become naturalized citizens. In England itself, the naturalization process required a profession of Christian faith and proof that an individual had taken the Sacrament in a Protestant church. As noted in this law for the colonies, exception was made for Quakers and Jews but specifically not for Roman Catholics (referred to in the law as Papists). This law, although British... governed all the English colonies until Independence, and furthermore... it was the model upon which the first U.S. naturalization act, with respect to time, oath of allegiance, process of swearing before a judge, and the like, was clearly based."

Michael C. Lemay andElliott R. Barkan, U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Laws and Issues: A Documentary History, 1999

1773 - England Stops Emigration to the Colonies; Fines Imposed upon Emigrants and Ship Masters Violating the Law

"[F]rom the time of James II to the accession of George III, the British authorities generally were active in fostering foreign immigration... After 1773, all naturalization was abruptly stopped, and in the next year, heavy financial burdens were imposed upon emigrants and shipmasters who violated the law--a change in policy that was not overlooked by the American Revolutionists when they compiled their grievances against George III in the Declaration of Independence."

We Who Built America: The Saga of the Immigrant, 1939

1781-1788 - Articles of Confederation Kept Citizenship and Naturalization of Immigrants under Individual States' Control

"Under the Articles of Confederation [Enacted in 1781 and Replaced by the Constitution in 1788], the question of citizenship and the naturalization of immigrants remained with the individual states. Pennsylvania allowed any foreigner of 'good character,' who took an oath of allegiance to the state, to acquire property and after one year's residency become a citizen entitled to 'all the rights of a natural born subject of this state.' New York followed Pennsylvania's model and added a requirement for foreigners to renounce all allegiance to any foreign prince. Maryland's naturalization law required a declaration of 'belief in the christian religion' and an oath of allegiance. In South Carolina, full naturalization required at least two years of residency and a special act of the legislature."

"From Pluribus to Unum: Immigration and the Founding Fathers," Policy Review, Winter, 1994

Mar. 26, 1790 - First Alien Naturalization Act Enacted by the Newly Created US Government

"The original [1790 Alien Naturalization Act] provided the first rules to be followed by all of the United States in the granting of national citizenship. At that time and by that law naturalization was limited to aliens who were 'free white persons' and thus left out indentured servants, slaves, and most women, all of whom were considered dependents and thus incapable of casting an independent vote. The 1790 Act also limited naturalization to persons of 'good moral character.' And the law required a set period of residence in the United States prior to naturalization, specifically two years in the country and one year in the state of residence when applying for citizenship. When those requirements were met, an immigrant could file a Petition for Naturalization with 'any common law court of record' having jurisdiction over his residence asking to be naturalized. Once convinced of the applicant’s good moral character, the court would administer an oath of allegiance to support the Constitution of the United States. The clerk of court was to make a record of these proceedings, and 'thereupon such person shall be considered as a citizen of the United States.' It is from this structure of steps and requirements that U.S. naturalization evolved."

"This Month in Immigration History: March 1790," (accessed May 3, 2007)

Jan. 24, 1795 - Naturalization Act of 1795 Adds Rules to the Citizenship Process

"The act of January 29, 1795 (1 Stat. 414) increased the period of residence required for citizenship from 2 to 5 years. It also required applicants to declare publicly their intention to become citizens of the United States and to renounce any allegiance to a foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty 3 years before admission as citizens. Immigrants who had ‘borne any hereditary title, or been of the order of nobility’ were also required to renounce that status. These actions could be taken before the supreme, superior, district, or circuit court of any State or Territory, or before a Federal circuit or district court of the United States."

"Background History of the United States Naturalization Process,", June 18, 2003

June-July 1798 - Alien and Sedition Acts Enacted; US President Given Power to Punish and Deport Immigrants; Residency Requirement for Naturalization Increases to 14 Years

"Signed into law by President John Adams in 1798, the Alien and Sedition Acts consisted of four laws passed by the Federalist-controlled Congress as America prepared for war with France. [An Act to Establish an Uniform Rule of Naturalization, An Act Concerning Aliens, An Act Respecting Alien Enemies, and An Act for the Punishment of Certain Crimes against the United States] These acts increased the residency requirement for American citizenship from five to fourteen years, authorized the president to imprison or deport aliens considered 'dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States' and restricted speech critical of the government. These laws were designed to silence and weaken the Democratic-Republican Party. Negative reaction to the Alien and Sedition Acts helped contribute to the Democratic-Republican victory in the 1800 elections. Congress repealed the Naturalization Act in 1802, while the other acts were allowed to expire."

"Primary Documents in American History: Alien and Sedition Acts," US Library of Congress (accessed Aug. 10, 2009)


1800 - Congress Reduces Naturalization Residency Requirements to Five Years

"[T]he Alien Act was not without effect, causing protests among various ethnic groups, especially the Irish. When he was elected president in 1800, due in no small part to the immigrant vote, Jefferson wanted to get rid of the residency requirement. Congress, believing residency was still a key element of citizenship, only lowered the requirement to the previous length of five years."

"From Pluribus to Unum: Immigration and the Founding Fathers," Policy Review, Winter 1994

1808 - Foreign Slave Trade Becomes Illegal; 50,000 Slaves Become First "Illegal Aliens" in the US

"[T]he authors of the Constitution... protected the foreign slave trade, a major source of immigration, by prohibiting interference with it for twenty years (Article 1, Section 9). When that period expired, Congress, at President Jefferson's invitation, promptly made that trade illegal, but did not interfere with either the domestic slave trade or slavery itself. The approximately 50,000 slaves smuggled into the United States after 1808 became the first illegal immigrants."

Guarding the Golden Door, American Immigration Policy and Immigrants Since 1882, 2004

1814-1850 - Native Americans Exempted from Naturalization and Forced from Tribal Land; Slave Populations in Ceded Land Increase Dramatically

"The [1790] Naturalization Act excluded from citizenship not only nonwhite immigrants but also a group of people already here - Indians. Though they were born in the United States, they were regarded as members of tribes, or as domestic subjects; their status was considered analogous to children of foreign diplomats born here. As domestic 'foreigners,' native Americans could not seek naturalized citizenship, for they were not 'white.' ...Tribe after tribe in the south was forced to cede their lands to the federal government and move west of the Mississippi River. Eleven treaties of cession were negotiated with these tribes between 1814 and 1824; from these agreements the United States acquired millions of acres of land... Sales of Indian lands were followed by increases in the slave population: between 1820 and 1850 the number of slaves jumped from 42,000 to 343,000 in Alabama, 33,000 to 310,000 in Mississippi, and 69,000 to 245,000 in Louisiana."

A Different Mirror, A History of Multicultural America, 1993

1816 - Irish Immigration to US Begins along with Anti-Irish Sentiments in US

"In the century after 1820 [Irish immigration started in 1816], 5 million Irish immigrants came to the United States. Their presence provoked a strong reaction among certain native-born Americans, known as nativists, who denounced the Irish for their social behavior, their impact on the economy, and their Catholic religion... Nativists launched a sustained attack on Irish immigrants because of their Catholicism. In 1834 a mob burned down the Ursuline convent in Charlestown, Massachusetts. In 1836 nativists in New York published the Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk. An emotionally troubled young woman, Monk claimed to have witnessed debauchery and infanticide during her stay in a convent. The book became a huge best-seller. In 1844 nativist rioters burned two Catholic churches in the Philadelphia suburbs [including St. Michael's Church shown here] in a dispute over which Bible to teach in public schools, the Catholic one or the Protestant King James version."

"Irish Immigrants in the United States,", Feb. 13, 2008

1830 - 1847 - American "Nativists" Gain Political Power and Advocate 21-Year Residence Requirement for Naturalization

"By the 1830's, local nativist political parties appeared in New York and elsewhere on the Eastern seaboard, usually in close alliance with the Whigs... In 1844, a nativist mayor was elected in New York, with strong Whig support, Several members of Congress were claimed by the nativists, and, in 1845 and 1847, national native-American conventions were held to advocate a 21-year residence requirement for naturalization, the limitation of officeholding to native Americans, the restriction of immigration, and educational reforms."

We Who Built America: The Saga of the Immigrant, 1939

1837 - Supreme Court Rules in New York v. Miln That States May Take Precautionary Measures Against the Importation of "Paupers, Vagabonds, Convicts, and Infectious Articles"

"The New York laws were challenged in New York v. Miln (1837). The defendant, a ship's master, argued that the New York laws obstructed interstate and foreign commerce. The Supreme Court, however, sustained the laws as a legitimate exercise of the state's police power. Justice Philip P. Barbour stated that it was as competent and necessary for a State to provide precautionary measures against the moral pestilence of paupers, vagabonds, and possibly convicts, as it is to guard against the physical pestilence which may arise from unsound or infectious articles imported, or from a ship, the crew of which may be laboring under an infectious disease."

"Immigration," The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States , 2005

1840s - Naturalizations of Germans and Irish Are Expedited and Offered Free of Charge During Election Time

"The buying of votes in local elections was easy where large groups of immigrants could be mobilized by their leaders to march to the polls... naturalization papers could be obtained before election, free of charge and without too many questions asked, from friendly judges. In the 1840's, it was the general practice to advertise in the German papers of New York just before Election Day that all Germans wishing to be naturalized should apply to the German committee of Tammany Hall, where they would receive their citizenship papers gratis. Irish immigrants landing in the morning might be voters by nightfall."

We Who Built America: The Saga of the Immigrant, 1939

Feb. 2, 1848 - Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo Results in United States Acquiring Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, California, and Parts of Utah and Nevada

The Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo ended the Mexican-American War allowing the United States to acquire Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, California, and parts of Utah and Nevada from Mexico. 80,000 Mexicans living in the territory are allowed to remain and receive citizenship. By 1849, the English-speaking population of California reached 100,000 compared to 13,000 of Mexican ancestry.

A Different Mirror, A History of Multicultural America, 1993

Feb. 7, 1849 - Supreme Court Rules That Congress Alone Can Regulate Immigration

"Massachusetts and New York passed laws taxing and otherwise impeding immigrants. These were appealed to the Supreme Court, which struck them down in the 'Passenger Cases' of 1849 [both cases had a 5-4 vote], ruling that: 1) although the Constitution said nothing about immigration directly, it was clearly 'foreign commerce,' which the Constitution explicitly reserved to Congress; and 2) Congress's jurisdiction was preemptive so that even in the absence of any federal legislation, state governments could not regulate immigration."

Guarding the Golden Door, American Immigration Policy and Immigrants Since 1882, 2004

1849 - Know-Nothing Party Forms and Pushes for Major Restrictions on Immigrants

"In 1849, some organized into an anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant political group famously called the 'Know-Nothings,' which derived its name from the secrecy of its members. [They] believed that native-born Americans were superior to the newly arrived immigrant groups on the basis that Irish and German immigrants tended to be poorer and Catholic, which Know-Nothings took as traits of cultural and economic backwardness."

"In national politics, the Know-Nothing movement reached its climax in 1856... The KnowNothings demanded an end to pauper and criminal immigration, the repeal of state laws which permitted foreigners to vote before they had completed the naturalization process, and the repeal of Congressional land grants to unnaturalized foreigners. They opposed the 'aggressive policy and corrupting tendencies' of the Roman Catholic Church, favored filling public offices with Americans by 'birth, education, and training,' opposed exclusion of the Bible from the public schools, and advocated a 21-year residence requirement for naturalization."

US Library of Congress (USLOC), "Teacher Guide, Primary Source Set, Immigration Challenges for New Americans," (accessed June 29, 2009)

We Who Built America: The Saga of the Immigrant, 1939


1862 - Homestead Act of 1862 Passed to Encourage Westward Migration

"In 1862, the U.S. Congress offered to sell public lands to citizens and to immigrants at the cost of $1.25 per acre, or less. The law was designed to attract people to settle vast stretches of territory in the Midwest and West, and it was highly effective. The promise of land at a low price attracted hundreds of thousands of people from the East and from Europe. The offer greatly increased the numbers of people migrating westward."

"Homestead Act of 1862," U.S. Immigration and Migration Primary Sources, Ed. Sarah Hermsen, 2004

Feb. 1862 - President Lincoln Acts to Prohibit the "Coolie Trade"

"Lincoln signed 'An Act to Prohibit the 'Coolie Trade' by American Citizens in American Vessels' in February 1862. ...[T]he legislation simply outlawed any shipment of Chinese subjects 'known as 'coolies' abroad 'to be held to service or labor.' Virtually all Chinese subjects leaving China were known as 'coolies.' But another section of the law left the door open to Chinese migrations, proclaiming that 'any free and voluntary emigration of any Chinese subject' should proceed unabated so long as a U.S. consul attested to the voluntary status of the migrant through a written certificate."

"Outlawing 'Coolies':Race, Nation, and Empire in the Age of Emancipation," American Quarterly, Fall 2005

1863-1869 - Central Pacific Railroad Hires Chinese Laborers and the Union Pacific Hires Irish Laborers to Construct the First Transcontinental Railroad

"The Central Pacific hires Chinese laborers and the Union Pacific hires Irish laborers to construct the first transcontinental railroad, which would stretch from San Francisco to Omaha, allowing continuous travel by rail from coast to coast. The First Transcontinental Railroad [begins construction in 1863 and] is completed when the Central Pacific and Union Pacific lines meet at Promontory Summit, Utah (May 10, 1869)."

"Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930, Key Dates and Landmarks in United States Immigration History," Open Collections Program, (accessed June 30, 2009)

July 4, 1864 - First Congressional Attempt to Centralize Immigration Control; A Commissioner of Immigration Is Appointed by the US President

"First Congressional attempt to centralize control of immigration.
a. A Commissioner of Immigration was appointed by the President to serve under the authority of the Secretary of State.
b. Authorized immigrant labor contracts whereby would-be immigrants would pledge their wages to pay for transportation."

"Immigration Legal History Legislation from 1790-1900," (accessed June 3, 2009)

1868 - 20,000 to 30,000 Expedited Naturalizations before Elections in New York City

"As late as 1868, when the Scotchman William M. Tweed was mobilizing the Irish American vote for Tammany, between 20,000 and 30,000 were naturalized in New York City courts in the six weeks before election. Both Democrats and Republicans paid the necessary fees. One judge naturalized over 10,000 in two weeks."

We Who Built America: The Saga of the Immigrant, 1939

1870-1880 - Chinese Immigration to the United States Increases During the Gold Rush

"Chinese came to the country they called 'Gold Mountain' to participate in the California gold rush, and their numbers grew slowly. Between 1870 and 1880, 138,941 Chinese migrated to the United States (4.3% of all immigration); by 1880, the Chinese population totaled 105,465, 0.2% of the U.S. population of 50 million. This immigration was specifically authorized by the Burlingame Treaty, concluded between China and the United States in 1868."

"Chae Chan Ping and Fong Yue Ting: The Origins of Plenary Power," Immigration Law Stories, Ed. Devid Martin and Peter Schuck, 2005

July 14, 1870 - Naturalization Act of 1870 Extends Naturalization to Former Slaves

"The first Naturalization Act of 1790 limited the right of becoming a naturalized citizen to 'free white persons.' Subsequent enactments, legislated during the course of the nineteenth century, all included this racial condition. After the Civil War, the Naturalization Act of 1870 extended the right of naturalization to former slaves, making aliens of African birth and persons of African descent also eligible."

"Lessons on Judicial Interpretation: How Immigrants Takao Ozawa and Yick Wo Searched the Courts for a Place in America," OAH Magazine of History, Fall 1998

Mar. 1875 - Page Law Toughens Penalties for Transporting Asians to the United States

With the Page Law, anyone who imported Chinese prositutes and anyone who "shall take, or cause to be taken or transported, to or from the United States any subject of China, Japan, or any oriental country, without their free and voluntary consent, for the purpose of holding them to a term of service" was subject to a fine of up to $2,000 and up to one year in jail.

"Forbidden Families: Emigration Experiences of Chinese Women Under the Page Law, 1875-1882," Journal of American Ethnic History, Fall 1986

1875-1880 - State Immigration Laws Become Unconstitutional; Congress Begins to Bring Immigration Under Direct Federal Control for the First Time

"In Henderson v. Mayor of New York, the Court held [6-1] that all immigration laws of the seaboard states were unconstitutional because they usurped the exclusive power vested in Congress to regulate foreign commerce. In response to Henderson, states abolished their immigration commissions and port authorities. The entire burden of orienting foreigners and turning away the incapacitated fell to private, philanthropic organizations. Overwhelmed by the strain that immigration put on their resources, charity workers petitioned Congress to have the federal government assume the duties of regulating the influx... In the 1880s. Congress began to bring immigration under direct federal control for the first time. It could no longer rely on volunteerism or informal processes to manage this powerful social force."

"Immigration," The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States, 2005

1880 - Burlingame Treaty Is Revised; Chinese Immigration Is Suspended

"President Hayes did not object to the goal of limiting Chinese immigration... he raised the possibility of revising the Burlingame Treaty... In November [1880], the new treaty was signed which allowed the American government to suspend, but not prohibit, the immigration of Chinese laborers to the United States. The document reaffirmed the panoply of 'rights, privileges, immunities, and exemptions' enjoyed by the subjects of a most favored nation for Chinese laborers currently residing in the United States. The new treaty furthermore obliged the American government to formulate measures to ensure the protection of those rights and privileges."

"The Chinese-American Experience: 1857-1892," (accessed May 28, 2009)

1880's - First "Great Wave" of European Immigrants to the United States

"[T]he first great wave of European immigration did not come until the 1880s. Previous events such as the Irish potato famine of 1845, the Gold Rush in 1849 and failed revolutions in Germany and France in 1848 led to the immigration of more than one million people by the 1850s. Nevertheless, the 1880s saw a huge immigration explosion. The period between 1880 and 1924 witnessed an average of 560,000 immigrants per year, amounting to over 25 million immigrants over a 44 year period.This period saw a large increase in Jewish immigration to the US, largely due to repressive laws enacted in Russia and Prussia. Additionally, large numbers of Italians fleeing the economic and political climate of their homeland found a new home in America."

"History of American Immigration," (accessed Aug. 4, 2009)

1880s - Anti-Chinese Riots Spread over the Northwestern States; Oregon's Constitution Prevents Chinese from Owning Land

"In the 1880s, an economic depression on the West Coast put many people out of work. Some chose to blame the Chinese immigrants for their economic problems. They attacked Chinese businesses and drove entire Chinese communities out of town. Anti-Chinese rioting was especially bad in Tacoma and Seattle, Washington. Many Chinese Americans moved to Oregon at that time to escape the violence in other Northwest states. Oregon did not experience the violence that other states did. However, Oregon had its share of anti-Chinese sentiment. A riot was planned to force all the Chinese out of Portland, but it was stopped at the last minute by local officials. Oregon legislators supported the national anti-Chinese immigration laws. They also included language in the Oregon constitution so that no Chinese could buy or own land."

"Chinese Traditions of Oregon," START website (accessed July 31, 2009)

1882 - Immigration Exclusion Act Prohibits Immigration of Criminals, Poor, and Mentally Ill

"The 1882 Act to Regulate Immigration prohibited entry to ‘any person unable to take care of himself or herself without becoming a public charge’. The law was designed to exclude immigrants whose undesirable conditions might prove costly to society – including convicted criminals, the poor, and the mentally ill."

"Eugenics Laws Restricting Immigration," (accessed Apr. 15, 2013)

May 6, 1882 - Chinese Exclusion Act Passes and Immigration Exclusion Era Begins

"In the beginning Congress created the Chinese Exclusion Act... That May 1882 statute, which has long been treated as a minor if somewhat disreputable incident, can now be seen as a nodal point in the history of American immigration policy. It marked the moment when the golden doorway of admission to the United States began to narrow and initiated a thirty-nine-year period of successive exclusions of certain kinds of immigrants, 1882-1921, followed by twenty two years, 1921-43, when statutes and administrative actions set narrowing numerical limits for those immigrants who had not otherwise been excluded. During those years a federal burocracy was created to control immigration and immigrants, a bureaucracy whose initial raison d'être was to keep out first Chinese and then others who were deemed inferior."

"In response to a remarkable intensity of complaint on the West Coast, which was increasingly expressed nationwide, Congress moved rapidly toward a historic reversal of the tradition of laissez-faire in immigration matters... [and] by wide margins passed the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, suspending the admission of Chinese laborers for ten years... It was the first sharp curtailment of immigration to America and was extended with minor adjustments for sixty years... A new tradition of restricting U.S. immigration through federal policy had begun... The Chinese Exclusion Act, with its misleading, inept title and other flaws apparent to people living a century later, prevented what had been building as a massive and sustained immigration of Chinese laborers to Jinshan-'the Golden Mountain.'"

Roger Daniels, Guarding the Golden Door, American Immigration Policy and Immigrants since 1882, 2004

Unguarded Gates, A History of America’s Immigration Crisis, 2006

1885 - Alien Contract Labor Law Bans Immigration of Workers to Break Strikes

"The Knights of Labor replaced the NLU [National Labor Union] as the dominant labor organization in the 1880s. As immigration soared in the 1880s, nativists and labor unions, including the Knights, sought to ban Chinese immigration and to reduce the inflow of other immigrants… [I]n 1885, three bills banning contract labor worked their way through Congress. The first bill through the system was that of Congressman Foran, which is why the Alien Contract Labor Act was called the Foran Act. The law banned importation of workers to drive down wages or break strikes, which was enough to effectively end contract labor. The Foran Act also outlawed prepayment of passage and other assistance in return for the immigrant’s agreeing to work for a specific employer. Significantly, the Alien Contract Labor Law of 1885 barred indentured servitude. It exempted domestic workers and skilled labor needed in trades or industry. It also exempted actors, professional artists, and lecturers. It allowed relatives and friends to assist a would-be immigrant."

"Alien Contract Labor Act (Foran Act)," Anti-Immigration in the United States, A Historical Encyclopedia, Ed. Kathleen Arnold, 2011

1886 - Statue of Liberty Unveiled; "The Huddled Masses Yearning To Be Free" Invited to Immigrate

"[I]n 1886, the Statue of Liberty, on Bedloe's Island, was dedicated as a gift of the French nation to the American people and as a symbol of their eternal friendship. The statue was the work of Auguste Bartholdi... The funds needed to build a pedestal for the monument were raised by a campaign sponsored by the New York World, owned by Joseph Pulitzer, a Hungarian refugee, and it was Emma Lazarus who wrote the immortal lines for the tablet inside the pedestal, with their oft-quoted invitation to 'the tired, the poor, the homeless and the tempest-tost,' 'the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.'"

Immigration: An American Dilemma, 1953

[Editor’s Note: The following is the 1883 poem by Emma Lazarus titled “The New Colossus” engraved on the bronze plaque inside the statue’s pedestal:

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
‘Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!’ cries she
With silent lips. ‘Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!'”]

1887 - Chinese Immigration Lowers Dramatically

"The Chinese Exclusion Act worked. In 1882, before it took effect, over 39,000 Chinese came to America. In 1887, Chinese immigration bottomed out at 10! While America’s population more than doubled between 1880 and 1920, the population of Chinese ancestry declined by over a third."

"Chae Chan Ping and Fong Yue Ting: The Origins of Plenary Power," Immigration Law Stories, Ed. Devid Martin and Peter Schuck, 2005

1891 - Congress Establishes the First Federal Administrative Agency for the Regulation of Immigration

"In 1891 Congress established the first federal administrative agency for the regulation of immigration in the Treasury Department. Congress later refined and strengthened the control of immigration. Statutes that restricted immigration according to increasingly stringent standards of admissibility—terminating the period of free and unlimited immigration by the early twentieth century—were made possible by the Supreme Court's position that the exclusive constitutional power to regulate immigration resided in Congress."

"Immigration," The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States, 2005

Jan. 2, 1892 - Ellis Island Opens as Immigrant Entry Checkpoint

"From 1892 to 1954, over twelve million immigrants entered the United States through the portal of Ellis Island, a small island in New York Harbor. While the new immigration station on Ellis Island was under construction, the Barge Office at the Battery was used for the processing of immigrants. The new structure on Ellis Island, built of 'Georgia pine' opened on January 1, 1892; Annie Moore, a 15 year-old Irish girl, accompanied by her two brothers entered history and a new country as she was the very first immigrant to be processed at Ellis Island on January 2."

"Ellis Island - History," (accessed July 15, 2009)

May 18, 1896 - US Supreme Court Rules Due Legal Process Extends to Undocumented Immigrants

"In the 1896 case Wong Wing vs. US, the Supreme Court ruled that even an immigrant who had broken immigration law still had the right to make his case to a judge before being 'deprived of life, liberty, or property.' [The Supreme Court stated:] '[A]ll persons within the territory of the United States are entitled to the protection guarantied by those amendments, and that even aliens shall not be held to answer for a capital or other infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.' The court decision establishes that the US Constitution'' Fifth and Sixth amendments—which grant the right to a public trial and prohibit detention without due legal process—extend to all people on US soil."

"Do Undocumented Immigrants Have the Right to a Day in Court? The Supreme Court Answered in 1896,", June 25, 2018

Mar. 28, 1898 - Supreme Court Confirms That 14th Amendment Gives Citizenship to All Persons Born in the United States

"To hold that the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution excludes from citizenship the children, born in the United States, of citizens or subjects of other countries would be to deny citizenship to thousands of persons of English, Scotch, Irish, German, or other European parentage who have always been considered and treated as citizens of the United States... Whatever considerations, in the absence of a controlling provision of the Constitution, might influence the legislative or the executive branch of the Government to decline to admit persons of the Chinese race to the status of citizens of the United States, there are none that can constrain or permit the judiciary to refuse to give full effect to the peremptory and explicit language of the Fourteenth Amendment, which declares and ordains that 'All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.'"

United States v. Wong Kim Ark


1900 - Organic Act of 1900 Grants US Citizenship to Every Person Born in Hawaii before Its 1898 Annexation, Including People of Japanese and Chinese Ancestry

"The so-called Organic Act of 1900 declared that 'all persons who were citizens of the Republic of Hawaii on August twelfth, eighteen hundred and ninety eight, are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States and citizens of the Territory of Hawaii...' At the time of the annexation more than half of the islands' population was Japanese, and about a quarter was Chinese: few were citizens of Hawaii, but thousands of them, mostly Japanese, were enabled to migrate further east to California. In addition, of course, thanks to the Fourteenth Amendment, every person born in Hawaii after the annexation was a birthright citizen. So the United States would soon have tens of thousands of citizens of Asian ancestry."

Guarding the Golden Door, American Immigration Policy and Immigrants since 1882, 2004

1903 - Anarchist Exclusion Act Enacted; Exclusion of Immigrants Based on Political Ideology Begins

"[F]oreign-born political radicals stirred public concern. Beyond urban machine politics that relied on alien grist and rising religious differences between largely Protestant natives and Catholic immigrants, alien troublemakers -- anarchists -- were afoot on American soil... President William McKinley, who had campaigned on a platform of tariffs and 'big tent' themes directed at immigrants ('America for Americans, native and naturalized'), fell to an assassin's bullet in 1901. Leon Czolgosz, called 'an anarchist of American birth but obviously foreign extraction,' sparked congressional action to add anarchists to the exclusion list. The 1903 law provided for exclusion and deportation of alien anarchists -- those foreigners who believe in or 'advocate the overthrow by force of violence of the Government of the United States or of all governments or of all forms of law, or the assassination of public officials.' The 1903 Act also both bolstered public health exclusions and provided for limited exceptions for certain diseased aliens."

"Keeping Extremists Out: The History of Ideological Exclusion and the Need for Its Revival," Center for Immigration Studies, Sep. 2005

June 29, 1906 - Naturalization Act Creates Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization

"On June 27, 1906, Congress passed an act (34 Stat. 596) that expanded the existing Immigration Bureau to the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization and put it in charge of ‘all matters concerning the naturalization of aliens.’ Although the new Bureau was part of the Department of Labor and Commerce initially, and part of the Department of Labor from 1913 to 1940, most of its operations were directed by the Department of Justice, and, in 1940, the Bureau was made part of the Justice Department. Under the act of 1906, every petition for naturalization became a case for examination by Bureau officials.

This act also established the basic procedure for naturalization during the period 1906-52. The procedure began with the filing of a declaration of intention, which recorded the applicant's oath to the clerk of the court that it was his or her bona fide intention to become a citizen of the United States, to reside permanently therein, and to renounce all allegiances to other nations. Within a period of 2 to 7 years after filing the declaration, the applicant could petition the court for citizenship, presenting at this time the affidavits of two witnesses with personal knowledge of the applicant, stating that the applicant had resided in the United States for at least 5 years and possessed a good moral character. The petition then became the subject of an investigation and hearing before a judge. Officials of the Bureau conducted preliminary examinations and submitted findings and recommendations to the court. The hearing before a judge was the last step in the procedure, provided the judge found the findings and recommendation of naturalization officials favorable and satisfactory. If so, the applicant would take an oath of allegiance to the U.S. Constitution and laws and renounce all foreign allegiances, and the judge would issue an order of admission to citizenship and grant the applicant a certificate of citizenship. However, a judge could also order a continuance of the investigation or deny the petition, listing the reasons for the denial. A major change in this procedure occurred in 1952, when the filing of the declaration of intention was eliminated."

"Background History of the United States Naturalization Process,", June 18, 2003

Mar. 2, 1907 - Expatriation Act Revokes Citizenship of American Women Who Marry Foreigners

"The Expatriation Act, or "An Act in Reference to the Expatriation of Citizens and Their Protection Abroad, 1907," approved by Congress on Mar. 2, 1907, declared that 1. any US citizen who becomes a citizen of another country or has pledged allegiance to another country has expatriated him/herself; 2. any naturalized US citizen who returns to his/her home country and lives there for two years, or lives in any other foreign country for five years has expatriated him/herself; 3. "any American woman who marries a foreigner shall take the nationality of her husband," and will not be a US citizen but may resume her US citizenship if the marriage is terminated; 4. any foreign woman who marries an American man may retain her US citizenship after the marriage is terminated if she continues to live in the United States; 5. any child born in the United States to immigrant parents will be a US citizen if the parents become US citizens while the child is a minor and while the child lives in the United States permanently; and 6. any child born outside of the United States to US citizens is required to pledge allegiance to the United States when he/she turns 18-years-old. In 1922 Congress repealed most of the part of the Expatriation Act that expatriated women. Women who married immigrants not eligible for citizenship, mainly Chinese and Japanese men, forfeited their citizenship until the Magnuson Immigration Act of 1943 repealed the exclusion laws.

"This Should Never Happen Again,", Apr. 20, 2014

"An Act in Reference to the Expatriation of Citizens and Their Protection Abroad, 1907," American Society of International Law, Apr. 1907

1907 - United States and Japan Sign the "Gentlemen's Agreement" Allowing Japanese "Picture Brides" to Immigrate

"In 1907, amidst the anti-Japanese pressures in California, President Theodore Roosevelt and the Government of Japan reached an agreement stopping issuance of passports to Japanese laborers but continuing issuing passports to laborers who had been in the U.S. previously and also to parents, wives, relatives of those already in the U.S.

This essentially eliminated new Japanese laborers but thousands of wives (picture brides) came over. The purpose of this 'Gentlemen’s Agreement' was to stop Japanese immigration but it did not have the desired effect as thousands of 'picture brides' continued to arrive. It was euphemistically called 'The Gentlemen’s Agreement.' A halt to all Japanese immigration was achieved by law in 1924."

South Bay Chapter, "Chapter Newsletter: Euphemisms on Japanese Americans,", Jan. 2007

Oct. 5, 1909 - The Melting Pot Play Opens on Broadway; Its Title Becomes a Metaphor for the United States

"Israel Zangwill's play [The Melting Pot] about immigrants in America becomes one of the most successful productions in the history of Broadway. Zangwill updates the story of Romeo and Juliet. This time, instead of feuding families in a medieval Italian city, the lovers were from Russian Jewish and Russian Cossack families. Zangwill’s play emphatically claimed that America was a new country where the old hatreds had no place. For the new immigrants in America to try to keep alive their old hatreds and prejudices was pointless, evil, and probably impossible. God, Zangwill claimed, was using America as 'a crucible' to melt the 'fifty' barbarian tribes of Europe into a metal from which He can cast Americans... Zangwill was telling his audience that they were being molded in the fires of the Almighty into a new thing: the American. And they loved it... [He] had found exactly the right metaphor to translate the urban immigrant experience into American Exceptionalism. If they would but suffer to be melted in the pot, then they would become just as American as anyone else."

"The First Measured Century: Timeline, The Melting Pot," (accessed June 4, 2009)

1910 - Mexican Revolution Drives Thousands of Mexicans across the US-Mexican Border

"Development of mining and industry in northern Mexico, as well as building of north-south railroad lines, attracted large numbers of Mexicans to the northern part of the country in the late nineteenth century... At the same time, economic pressures were mounting. Many small landowners were losing their holdings to expanding haciendas, while farm workers were increasingly and systematically trapped into peonage by accumulating debts. Finally in 1910, political opponents of [Mexican] President Porfirio Diaz revolted. He was quickly overthrown, but replacement of his government did not end the Mexican Revolution which spread throughout the country and took on deep social and economic, rather than merely political ramifications. The resulting chaos drove thousands of Mexicans north. Beyond physical proximity, the United States offered jobs — in industry, in mines, on railroads, and in agriculture — and all at wage levels far higher than those in Mexico. World War I further increased the demand for Mexican labor."

Joseph A. Pitti, Antonia Castaneda, and Carlos Cortes, "Five Views: An Ethnic Historic Site Survey for California: Mexican Americans in California,", Nov. 17, 2004

1910 - Angel Island Immigration Station Opens

"In 1905, construction of an Immigration Station began in the area known as China Cove. Surrounded by public controversy from its inception, the station was finally put into operation in 1910. Although it was billed as the 'Ellis Island of the West,' within the Immigration Service it was known as 'The Guardian of the Western Gate' and was designed control the flow of Chinese into the country... By 1920, an estimated 6,000 to 19,000 Japanese 'picture brides' were processed through Angel Island... In 1940, the government decided to abandon the Immigration Station on Angel Island. Their decision was hastened by a fire that destroyed the administration building in August of that year."

"Immigration Station," (accessed July 21, 2009)

1911 - Dillingham Commission Report Recommends Limiting Admission of Immigrants Based on "Economic or Business Considerations"

"[US President Theodore] Roosevelt appointed a commission to study immigration... The Dillingham Commission (named after its chairman, Senator William P. Dillingham, R-Vt.) labored for three years and produced a forty-two-volume report... that had 'enormous influence on the future course of immigration policy.' Mountains of data were gathered on the economic and social characteristics and impacts of the new immigrants... [it] construed a picture... that the new immigrants from southern and eastern Europe tended to be less skilled, less literate... The commission affirmed that 'further general legislation concerning the admission of aliens should be based primarily upon economic or business considerations.'"

Unguarded Gates, A History of America's Immigration Crisis, 2006

1913 - Bureaus of Immigration and Naturalization Created and Moved to the Department of Labor

"The administrative changes first transferred the Bureau of Immigration from the Treasury to the newly created Department of Commerce and Labor (1903), expanded the functions of the Bureau into a Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (1906), and moved the Bureau to the Department of Labor when the latter was separated from Commerce and divided it into separate Bureaus of Immigration and Naturalization, each with its own commissioner (1913)."

Guarding the Golden Door, American Immigration Policy and Immigrants Since 1882, 2004

1914 - Eugenics Movement Influences Immigration Policy

"The Englishman Francis Galton coined the term eugenics, but the American zoologist Charles Davenport brought the movement to prominence when he founded the Eugenics Record Office (ERO) [in 1910] at Cold Spring Harbor, New York... Eugenicists contrasted pedigrees of families carrying superior traits – such as intelligence and musical ability – with those carrying 'dysgenic' traits – such as promiscuity and 'feeblemindedness...' Eugenicists feared that genes for feeblemindedness were insidiously ruining the American germ plasm from within, while allegedly inferior immigrants from southern and eastern Europe threatened from without."

“Beginning in 1914, the Surgeon General and a number of senior officers in the PHS [Public Health Service] became publicly aligned with the eugenics movement. They took prominent roles in eugenic organizations and published articles to support the eugenicists’ position in the immigration restriction debate."

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory "Image Archive of the American Eugenics Movement," (accessed Aug. 12, 2009)

“Eugenics Laws Restricting Immigration,” (accessed Aug. 12, 2009)

1915-1916 - US Congress Authorizes "Mounted Inspectors" Along the US-Mexico Border

"Mounted watchmen of the U.S. Immigration Service patrolled the border in an effort to prevent illegal crossings as early as 1904, but their efforts were irregular and undertaken only when resources permitted. The inspectors, usually called Mounted Guards, operated out of El Paso, Texas. Though they never totaled more than seventy-five, they patrolled as far west as California trying to restrict the flow of illegal Chinese immigration. In March 1915, Congress authorized a separate group of Mounted Guards, often referred to as Mounted Inspectors. Most rode on horseback, but a few operated cars and even boats. Although these inspectors had broader arrest authority, they still largely pursued Chinese immigrants trying to avoid the Chinese exclusion laws. These patrolmen were Immigrant Inspectors, assigned to inspection stations, and could not watch the border at all times. Military troops along the southwest border performed intermittent border patrolling, but this was secondary to 'the more serious work of military training.' Aliens encountered illegally in the U.S. by the military were directed to the immigration inspection stations. Texas Rangers were also sporadically assigned to patrol duties by the state, and their efforts were noted as 'singularly effective.'"

"Border Patrol History, The Origins of the Border Patrol," (accessed June 5, 2009)

1917 - Immigration Act of 1917 Denies Entry to Immigrants from Eastern Asia and the Pacific Islands

"Immigration Act of 1917 ('Asiatic Barred Zone Act'). Denies entry to immigrants from the 'Asiatic Barred Zone'--much of eastern Asia and the Pacific Islands. It also sets a literacy requirement for immigrants over 16 and a head tax for entry into the country; it bars entry by 'idiots,' 'feeble-minded persons,' 'epileptics,' 'insane persons,' alcoholics, 'professional beggars,' all persons 'mentally or physically defective,' polygamists, and anarchists."

Jane Guskin and David L. Wilson, The Politics of Immigration, 2007

1920 - Estimated 17,300 Chinese Entered the United States Illegally since the Passage of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act

"The Chinese exclusion laws greatly hindered Chinese immigration into the United States, but... they did not serve as the total barriers that exclusionists hoped they would. An estimated 17,300 Chinese immigrants entered the United States through the back doors of Canada and Mexico from 1882 to 1920. U.S. Bureau of Immigration reports and newspaper accounts indicate that they entered the country through Seattle, Washington; Buffalo, New York; San Diego, California; San Antonio and El Paso, Texas; and numerous other points along the northern and sothern borders of the United States."

At America's Gates, 2003

May 1921 - First Quota Act Becomes Law and Limits the Number of Immigrants from Certain Countries

"In May, 1921, the first of the quota or percentage laws was passed. Being sponsored by the American Legion and American Federation of Labor, it became a law over Wilson's veto... It limited the number of immigrants who could enter this country from Europe, Australia, Africa, New Zealand, Asiatic Turkey, Persia, and certain islands of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans to 3 percent of the number of foreign-born of such nationalities residing here when the 1910 census was taken... This law accomplished two things. (1) It reduced the total number of immigrants coming to this country... (2) It favored and stimulated the immigration of Protestant northwestern Europeans and excluded most of the Catholic southern and eastern Europeans."

Immigration and Assimilation, 1933

Nov. 13, 1922 - Ozawa v. US Supreme Court Decision Declares Japanese Ineligible for Citizenship

"The issue of U.S. citizenship eventually was decided by the 1922 Supreme Court decision [9-0] of Takao Ozawa v. United States, which declared that Japanese were ineligible for U.S. citizenship. 'Free white persons' were made eligible for U.S. citizenship by Congress in 1790. 'Aliens of African nativity and persons of African descent' were similarly designated by Congress in 1870. Due to some ambiguity about the term 'white,' some 420 Japanese had been naturalized by 1910, but a ruling by a U.S. attorney general to stop issuing naturalization papers to Japanese ended the practice in 1906. Ozawa had filed his naturalization papers in 1914. In 1922, the U.S. Supreme Court judged that since Ozawa was neither a 'free white person' nor an African by birth or descent, he did not have the right of naturalization as a Mongolian."

"A History of Japanese Americans in California: Discriminatory Practices,", Nov. 17, 2004

Feb. 19, 1923 - US Supreme Court Decides in United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind That Asian Indians Do Not Qualify for Naturalization because They Are Not Considered "White"

"Bhagat Singh Thind, a native of Punjab, immigrated to America in 1913. Working in an Oregon lumber mill he paid his way through University of California, Berkeley and enlisted in the United States Army in 1917, when the United States entered World War I. He was honorably discharged in 1918. In 1920 he applied for citizenship and was approved by the U.S. District Court. The Bureau of Naturalization appealed the case, which made its way to the Supreme Court. Thind's attorneys expected a favorable decision since the year before in the Ozawa ruling the same Court had declared Caucasians eligible for citizenship and Thind, as most North Indians, was clearly Caucasian. Now the Supreme Court found it necessary to qualify 'Caucasian' as being synonymous with 'white,' according to the understanding of the common man of the time... Because of the [9-0] Thind decision [United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind ], many Indians who were already naturalized had their citizenship rescinded. The Thind decision also meant that the Alien Land Law applied to the many Indian immigrants who had already purchased or leased land. After this ruling some landowners lost their property."

"Echoes of Freedom: South Asian Pioneers in California, 1899-1965," (accessed Aug. 18, 2009)

May 26, 1924 - Johnson-Reed Immigration Act Reduces Quotas

"[T]he Johnson-Reed Act of [May 26,] 1924 limited the total European immigration to 150,000 per year, and reduced each nationality's allowance to 2 percent of its U.S. population in 1890. Because significantly fewer Southern and Eastern Europeans were recorded in the 1890 census than in 1920, this effectively reduced immigration from these regions while making more room than was necessary for countries like Great Britain. In 1929, when the quota system was finalized, the ratio of immigrants admittable from northern and western Europe versus southern and eastern Europe was roughly five to one. In 1924, America had effectively shut its 'Golden Door.' Fewer than 350,000 Europeans immigrated to America during the 1930s, and a high percentage of these were political refugees, particularly from nazi Germany and, at the end of the decade, occupied Europe. In general, these immigrants came from a much higher socio-economic class than their predecessors."

"Tenement Encyclopedia - Chapter Nine - Immigration," (accessed Apr. 24, 2007)

May 28, 1924 - US Border Patrol Established with Labor Appropriation Act of 1924

"On May 28, 1924, Congress passed the Labor Appropriation Act of 1924, officially establishing the U.S. Border Patrol for the purpose of securing the borders between inspection stations. In 1925 its duties were expanded to patrol the seacoast. Officers were quickly recruited for the new positions. The Border Patrol expanded to 450 officers. Many of the early agents were recruited from organizations such as the Texas Rangers, local sheriffs and deputies, and appointees from the Civil Service Register of Railroad Mail Clerks. The government initially provided the agents a badge and revolver. Recruits furnished their own horse and saddle, but Washington supplied oats and hay for the horses and a $1,680 annual salary for the agents. The agents did not have uniforms until 1928." (accessed July 21, 2009)

June 2, 1924 - Indian Citizenship Act Grants Citizenship to All Native Americans Born in the United States

"Until the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, Indians occupied an unusual status under federal law. Some had acquired citizenship by marrying white men. Others received citizenship through military service, by receipt of allotments, or through special treaties or special statutes. But many were still not citizens, and they were barred from the ordinary processes of naturalization open to foreigners. Congress took what some saw as the final step on June 2, 1924 and granted citizenship to all Native Americans born in the United States."

June 1927 - US Labor Secretary Estimates That over 1,000,000 Mexicans Are in United States Illegally

"In 1900 there were only 100,000 Mexican immigrants in the United States... The Annual Report of the Commissioner General of Immigration of the United States Department of Labor for the year ending June, 1927, shows that nearly one-half of the immigrants come from countries in the Western Hemisphere, particularly Canada and Mexico, and that Mexico is far in the lead... The smuggling of Mexicans across the border, it is said, is an easy process, as much of the southern boundary is unguarded and the Rio Grande, which forms the greater part of it, is easily crossed. The Secretary of Labor says, 'We estimate that more than one million Mexicans are illegally in this country.' Some of those working with Mexicans say that for every one who enters legally there are three who enter illegally. From figures available by the United States Department of Labor, the five Southwestern states visited have a Mexican population estimated as follows: Texas, 555,000; California, 350,000; New Mexico, 180,000; Colorado, 70,000; Arizona, 60,000. No longer, however, can it be said that the Mexicans are confined to the Southwest. They are found in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, lowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Pennsylvania and even New York. They are in Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota. They are found in the South in Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi. There is hardly a state where they have not penetrated."

"Mexicans in the United States: A Report of a Brief Survey," National Catholic Welfare Conference, 1929

1929-1936 - Mexican “Repatriation Act” Forces Immigrants in the United States Back to Mexico

"USA TODAY reviewed hundreds of pages of documents, some provided by Dunn and MALDEF and others found at the National Archives. They cite officials saying the deportations lawfully focused on illegal immigrants while the exodus of legal residents was voluntary. Yet they suggest people of Mexican ancestry faced varying forms of harassment and intimidation: • Raids. Officials staged well-publicized raids in public places. On Feb. 26, 1931, immigration officials suddenly closed off La Placita, a square in Los Angeles, and questioned the roughly 400 people there about their legal status… • Jobs withheld. Prodded by labor unions, states and private companies barred non-citizens from some jobs… • Public aid threatened. County welfare offices threatened to withhold the public aid of many Mexican-Americans... Memos show they also offered to pay for trips to Mexico but sometimes failed to provide adequate food. An immigration inspector reported in a November 1932 memo that no provisions were made for 78 children on a train. Their only sustenance: a few ounces of milk daily… • Forced departures. Some of the deportees who were moved by train or car had guards to ensure they left the USA and others were sent south on a 'closed-body school bus' or 'Mexican gun boat,' memos show."

“U.S. Urged to Apologize for 1930s Deportations,”, Apr. 5, 2006

June 29, 1940 - Alien Registration Act Seeks to Undermine Left-Wing Political Groups by Registering 4,741,971 Immigrants

"The Alien Registration Act (also known as the Smith Act) was passed by Congress on 29th June, 1940, made it illegal for anyone in the United States to advocate, abet, or teach the desirability of overthrowing the government. The law also required all alien residents in the United States over 14 years of age to file a comprehensive statement of their personal and occupational status and a record of their political beliefs. Within four months a total of 4,741,971 aliens had been registered. The main objective of the act was to undermine the American Communist Party and other left-wing political groups in the United States. One of the first men to be arrested and imprisoned under the act was James Cannon, the national secretary of the Socialist Workers Party."

"Alien Registration Act," (accessed July 15, 2009)

Oct. 14, 1940 - Nationality Act Unifies Nationality and Naturalization Laws

"The enactment of the Nationality Act of 1940, which was approved and became law on October 14, 1940, represents the first attempt ever made since the founding of our Republic to codify and unify all the laws of the United States relating to the important subjects of nationality and naturalization."

George S. Knight, "Nationality Act of 1940," American Bar Association Journal, Dec. 1940

Feb. 19, 1942 - US President Franklin D. Roosevelt Signs Executive Order 9066 Sending Tens of Thousands of Japanese Americans (Among Others) to Internment Camps

"President Roosevelt, encouraged by officials at all levels of the federal government, authorized the internment of tens of thousands of American citizens of Japanese ancestry and resident aliens from Japan. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, dated February 19, 1942, gave the military broad powers to ban any citizen from a fifty- to sixty-mile-wide coastal area stretching from Washington state to California and extending inland into southern Arizona. The order also authorized transporting these citizens to assembly centers hastily set up and governed by the military in California, Arizona, Washington state, and Oregon. Although it is not well known, the same executive order (and other war-time orders and restrictions) were also applied to smaller numbers of residents of the United States who were of Italian or German descent. For example, 3,200 resident aliens of Italian background were arrested and more than 300 of them were interned. About 11,000 German residents—including some naturalized citizens—were arrested and more than 5000 were interned. Yet while these individuals (and others from those groups) suffered grievous violations of their civil liberties, the war-time measures applied to Japanese Americans were worse and more sweeping, uprooting entire communities and targeting citizens as well as resident aliens."

"Executive Order 9066: The President Authorizes Japanese Relocation," (accessed July 15, 2009)

1942-1945 - US Government Sends almost 900 Native Alaskans to Internment Camps

"In response to Japanese aggression in the Aleutians [Islands], U.S. authorities evacuated 881 Unangax [people native to Alaska] from nine villages. They were herded from their homes onto cramped transport ships, most allowed only a single suitcase. Heartbroken, Atka villagers watched as U.S. servicemen set their homes and church afire so they would not fall into Japanese hands."

“Aleutian World War II: Evacuation and Internment, 1942-1945,” (accessed Jan. 22, 2015)

1943-1944 - US Supreme Court Justifies Executive Order 9066 in Hirabayashi v. The United States and Korematsu v. The United States

"[T]he Supreme Court... was loath to interfere with what the [President Franklin D. Roosevelt] administration considered a necessary war measure [Executive Order 9066]. Three cases testing the constitutionality of the evacuation orders were heard by the Court. In the first case, Hirabayashi v. United States (1943), the Court sustained [9-0] the legitimacy of the curfew, but evaded ruling on the wider implications of relocation. In the second case, Korematsu v. United States [1944], the Court [6-3] could no longer ignore the core issue of whether loyal citizens could be summarily relocated to detention camps solely on the basis of their race. Although a majority of the Court agreed with Justice Black's view that military necessity justified the relocation, three members of the Court... dissented... On the same day, the Court unanimously authorized a writ of habeas corpus for Mitsuye Endo, a citizen whose loyalty had been clearly established."

"Basic Readings in U.S. Democracy," (accessed July 15, 2009)

1943 - Bracero Program Brings 5,000,000 Mexican Temporary Laborers to Work in US Farms and Railroads in a 22-Year Period

"World War II had drained enough US manpower to force Washington to look abroad for recruits to support a wartime economy. Bilateral talks resulted in a special program that allowed migrant laborers to work on US farms and railroads. Regulated by both governments, this agreement ended the system of private labor recruitment and introduced a new phase of negotiation. After having tried to dissuade Mexicans from migrating for half a century, the US government now began to organize and channel huge numbers of migrant workers—braceros—across its border. This phase, which lasted 22 years, molded a unique type of migrant: young, male temporary laborers from rural areas who went to live in the US and work in agriculture. Through tense, arduous annual negotiations, the 'Bracero' program established a 'binational collective labor agreement' that mobilized more than five million temporary workers."

"From Traitors to Heroes: 100 Years of Mexican Migration Policies," Migration Policy Institute, Mar. 2004

Dec. 17, 1943 - Magnuson Immigration Act of 1943 Allows Chinese to Become US Citizens

"After China became an ally during World War II, the exclusion laws proved to be an embarrassment and were finally repealed by the Magnuson Act in 1943. This bill made it possible for Chinese to become naturalized citizens and gave them an annual quota of 105 immigrants... As the annual quota of 105 immigrants indicates, America’s immigration policy was restrictive and particularly discriminatory against Chinese and other Asians."

"The Chinese-American Experience: An Introduction," (accessed June 8, 2009)

1945 - War Brides and Fiancées Acts Allow an Estimated 1,000,000 American Soldiers to Bring Their Foreign Spouses to America

"[B]etween the years 1942 and 1952, about one million American soldiers married foreign women from 50 different countries... War brides who could not enter the country due to the immigration quotas were stuck in their home countries without their husbands and often with babies or young children. In an effort to resolve the situation, the US Congress passed Public Law 271, the War Brides Act, in 1945. The act facilitated entrance to the United States for alien wives (or husbands), and minor children of US citizens who had been in active service during World War II, by granting them non-quota status. So, even if 150,000 immigrants had already entered the United States in a given year, they would still be accepted. The act remained in effect for three years. Six months later, Congress enacted Public Law 471, the Fiancées Act, which granted fiancées of US servicemen three-month visas as temporary visitors. If a couple did not wed during that three-month period, the fiancée would be returned home."

"War Brides," America in WWII, Aug. 2005

Aug. 9, 1946 - Asian Exclusion Repeal Act Gives Naturalization Rights to Filipinos and Indians

"World War II finally helped to usher in reforms to the Asian exclusion laws. In response to Japanese ridicule of China for supporting the United States—where the Chinese exclusion provisions were still in effect—Congress repealed the Chinese exclusion act in 1943. Similarly, in 1946, naturalization rights were extended to nationals of the Philippines and India [by the Asian Exclusion Repeal Act]—countries that were also U.S. allies. However, the national origins quota system that continued to severely restrict the number immigrant visas available to Asians was not repealed until 1965, when President Johnson followed through on President Kennedy’s push for a more egalitarian immigration system."

"Asian Exclusion Laws,", Aug. 4, 2007

1948 - Displaced Persons Act Allows People Uprooted by World War II to Immigrate to United States

"On May 14, 1948, the United States and the Soviet Union recognized the state of Israel. Congress also passed the Displaced Persons Act in 1948, authorizing 200,000 DPs to enter the United States. The law's stipulations made it unfavorable at first to the Jewish DPs, but Congress amended the bill with the DP Act of 1950. By 1952, over 80,000 Jewish DPs had immigrated to the United States under the terms of the DP Act and with the aid of Jewish agencies."

"Displaced Persons," Holocaust Encyclopedia,, May 11, 2012


1952 - McCarran-Walter Immigration Act Organizes All Immigration Statutes into One Body of Law

"The Immigration and Nationality Act, or INA, was created in 1952. Before the INA, a variety of statutes governed immigration law but were not organized in one location. The McCarran-Walter bill of 1952... collected and codified many existing provisions and reorganized the structure of immigration law. The Act has been amended many times over the years, but is still the basic body of immigration law. The INA is divided into titles, chapters, and sections. Although it stands alone as a body of law, the Act is also contained in the United States Code (U.S.C.)."

"Immigration and Nationality Act," (accessed Apr. 23, 2007)

Nov. 1954 - Ellis Island Closes

"In November of 1954 the last detainee, a Norwegian merchant seaman named Arne Peterssen was released, and Ellis Island officially closed. In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson declared Ellis Island part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument."

"Ellis Island - History," (accessed July 15, 2009)

1964 - Bracero Program Ends; Undocumented Laborers Continue to Arrive from Mexico

"In 1964, Washington cancelled [the Bracero] program unilaterally, and a new stage emerged. The Mexican government insisted on renewing the program. The US government was not interested because migrant laborers continued to arrive without papers and outside of negotiated agreements. Thus began the era of undocumented migration by 'irregular' migrants who worked temporarily under the threat of deportation... The Mexican side was a 'no-man's land' where criminals and human traffickers operated freely... In this phase, laissez-faire attitudes and policies reigned, though both governments would pay the costs 20 years later."

"From Traitors to Heroes: 100 Years of Mexican Migration Policies," Migration Policy Institute, Mar. 2004

1965 - Hart-Celler Immigration and Nationality Act Abolishes Immigration Criteria Based on Nation of Origin and Race

"In 1965, the United States passed the landmark Hart-Celler [Immigration and Nationality] Act, abolishing nation-of-origin restrictions. Effective June 30, 1968, immigration and naturalization exclusion on the basis of race, sex, or nationality was prohibited. Under the Hart-Celler Act, new immigration criteria was based on kinship ties, refugee status, and 'needed skills.' Between 1820 and 1960, 34.5 million Europeans immigrated to the U.S., while only one million Asians—mostly Chinese and Japanese—immigrated. An unintended, unanticipated, and highly evident effect of Hart-Celler was the burgeoning of Asian immigration. Between 1870-1965, a total of 16,013 Indians immigrated to the United States. In the first decade following the passage of the 1965 Hart-Celler Act, 96,735 Indians immigrated. For the most part, these new Indian immigrants entered under the needed skills preference of the 1965 law."

"Less Successful Than the Next: South Asian Taxi Drivers in New York City," SAGAR: South Asian Graduate Research Journal, Spring 1998

Oct. 24, 1968 - Armed Forces Naturalization Act Allows Veterans Who Served Active-Duty to Become Naturalized Citizens

The Armed Forces Naturalization Act gave US military veterans who served in active-duty capacity in Vietnam or other "military hostilities" the ability to become naturalized citizens.

"Public Law 90-633,", Oct. 24, 1968

May 23, 1975 - Indochina Migration and Refugee Assistance Act Admits Displaced Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotians

"The ill-fated war in Southeast Asia officially ended with the retreat of the United States in 1975. With this withdrawal, however, came immense responsibility for the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotians we had recruited in the war against communism. Indeed, many of them paid a fearful price when South Vietnam fell and American protection disappeared. In partial recompense, the United States began a refugee program to admit some of the populations [an estimated 130,000 people] displaced [into the United States]."

"Indochina Migration and Refugee Assistance Act, May 23, 1975," The Columbia Documentary History of the Asian American Experience, 2002

1976 - President Gerald Ford Repeals Executive Order 9066 Proclaming WWII Japanese Relocation a "National Mistake"

"After World War II, some Japanese Americans thought the U.S. government should officially recognize that it had denied their rights and unjustly incarcerated them. Beginning with a few individuals, these efforts grew into a national movement to obtain an apology and compensation from the U.S. government for wrongful actions taken against people of Japanese ancestry during World War II, and to help ensure that such injustices would never be allowed again. Japanese Americans and their supporters sought redress for injustice through all three branches of government, all of which had contributed to the denial of their constitutional rights... One successful effort resulted in President Gerald Ford's repeal of Executive Order 9066 in 1976, thirty-four years after it had been signed."

"Legacies of Incarceration: Redress," (accessed July 21, 2009)

1980 - Census Estimates 2 to 4 Million Immigrants in the United States Illegally with about Half from Mexico

"[T]he undocumented Mexican population in 1980 was in the 1-2 million range, with the total number from all countries falling in the range of 2-4 million... Of the undocumented present and counted in 1980, 941,000 entered during 1975-1980; 576,000 entered during 1970-1974; and 540,000 entered before 1970... Finally, the estimates for 1980 show a high proportion of recent arrivals, and very few who entered the United States prior to 1960."

Robert Warren and Jeffrey S. Passel, "A Count of the Uncountable: Estimates of Undocumented Aliens Counted in the 1980 United States Census," Demography, Aug. 1987

1980 - Cuba Allows 125,000 Cubans to Illegally Depart for the United States

"In 1980... the Cuban government allowed 125,000 Cubans to illegally depart for the United States from the port of Mariel, an incident known as the 'Mariel boatlift.' In 1984, the United States and Cuba negotiated an agreement to resume normal immigration, and to return to Cuba those persons who had arrived during the boatlift who were 'excludable' under U.S. law."

"Cuba: U.S.-Cuba Relations,", Jan. 20, 2001

1980 - Refugee Act of 1980 Allows Persecuted Individuals to Seek Asylum in United States

"The primary goal of the Refugee Act of 1980 was to bring U.S. law into compliance with the requirements of international law. Though domestic U.S. law has long contained provisions designed to protect certain persons fearing persecution, U.S. accession to the 1967 Refugee Protocol created certain specific legal obligations pursuant to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Years of controversy about these obligations led to the passage of the Refugee Act. The act contains a definition of the term 'refugee' derived from the 1951 convention. The definition includes, in brief, any person unable or unwilling to return to his or her country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion... In addition the act permits individuals within the United States and at the U.S. border to apply for 'asylum' or 'restriction on removal,' formerly known as 'withholding of deportation.'"

"Refugee Act of 1980," Dictionary of American History, 2003

June 15, 1982 - Plyler v. Doe Overturns Texas Law Disallowing State Funds for Non-Citizens

"A revision to the Texas education laws in 1975 allowed the state to withhold from local school districts state funds for educating children of illegal aliens. …[In Plyler v. Doe, decided [5-4] on June 15, 1982, t]he Court reasoned that illegal aliens and their children, though not citizens of the United States or Texas, are people ‘in any ordinary sense of the term’ and, therefore, are afforded Fourteenth Amendment protections. Since the state law severely disadvantaged the children of illegal aliens, by denying them the right to an education, and because Texas could not prove that the regulation was needed to serve a ‘compelling state interest,’ the Court struck down the law."

"Plyler v. Doe,", Apr. 19, 2013

Oct. 22, 1982 - Amerasian Immigration Act Gives Preferential Immigration Status to Children Fathered by American Troops in Southeast Asia

"The first U.S. legislative response to Amerasians was embodied in the 1982 'Amerasian Immigration Act' (PL 97-359). This law offers top priority U.S. immigration to chidren not only in Vietnam, but also in Korea, Laos, Cambodia or Thailand who are known to have been fathered by U.S. citizens."

"To Welcome the Amerasians: An MRS Staff Report,", 1988

1986 - Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) Grants Legal Status to Qualifying Immigrants Who Entered the US Illegally before Jan. 1, 1982

"The Attorney General shall adjust the status of an alien to that of an alien lawfully admitted for temporary residence if the alien meets the following requirements: ...The alien must establish that he entered the United States before January 1, 1982, and that he has resided continuously in the United States in an unlawful status since such date and through the date the application is filed under this subsection... In the case of an alien who entered the United States as a nonimmigrant before January 1, 1982, the alien must establish that the alien's period of authorized stay as a nonimmigrant expired before such date through the passage of time or the alien's unlawful status was known to the Government as of such date."

1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act - IRCA, The Simpson-Mazzoli Act

Dec. 1987 - Amerasian Homecoming Act Allows Children Fathered by American Troops in Vietnam to Immigrate to the United States

"One of the great tragedies of the Vietnam War is the story of the Amerasians–children of U.S. servicemen and Vietnamese women. There are tens of thousands of such children. In Vietnam, they were known as ‘children of the dust’ because they were considered as insignificant as specks of dust, and many (if not most) suffered discrimination, abuse, poverty, and homelessness. Although the fathers of these children were United States citizens, the children did not qualify to immigrate to the U.S. The situation was complicated by the absence of diplomatic relations between the government of the United States and the government of Vietnam… Congressman [Robert] Mrazek resolved to help these children. The result was the Amerasian Homecoming Act, which went into effect in early 1988 [and allowed these children to immigrate to the United States]."

"Amerasian Homecoming Act -- 25 Years Later,", Jan. 29, 2013

Nov. 29, 1990 - Immigration Act of 1990 Increases Limit on Legal Immigration and Revises Grounds for Exclusion and Deportation

"The Immigration Act of 1990 ...increased the limits on legal immigration to the United States, revised all grounds for exclusion and deportation, authorized temporary protected status to aliens of designated countries, revised and established new nonimmigrant admission categories, revised and extended the Visa Waiver Pilot Program, and revised naturalization authority and requirements."

"Immigration Act of 1990," (accessed Aug 20, 2009)

Oct. 1, 1991 - Armed Forces Immigration Adjustment Act Gives Special Immigration Status to Foreign Veterans Who Served in the US Armed Forces

"The Armed Forces Immigration Adjustment Act of 1991, Public Law 102-110 was enacted on October 1, 1991. Section 2 of this Act provided for special immigrant status… for certain foreign nationals who served honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces, or will serve, for a period of 12 years. These enlistees/veterans and their spouses and children may apply to become permanent resident aliens of the United States and also become immediately eligible to apply for naturalization as U.S. citizens."

"U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual Volume 9-- Visas,", Sep. 12, 2008

1994 - First Detailed National Count of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Estimates 3.4 Million Immigrants in United States Illegally

"In 1994, the INS [US Immigration and Naturalization Service] developed the first detailed national estimates of the unauthorized immigrant population residing in the United States. Those estimates indicated that the unauthorized resident population was 3.4 million as of October 1992."

US Immigration and Naturalization Service (USINS), "Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: 1990 to 2000,", Jan. 12, 2004

Nov. 8, 1994 - California's Proposition 187 Is Approved by Voters (and Later Rejected by US District Court)

"A U.S. District Court judge has declared most of California's Proposition 187 unconstitutional... Approved by voters in 1994 [Nov. 8, 1994], the proposition would have denied health care, education and welfare benefits to illegal immigrants. Almost immediately, Judge Mariana Pfaelzer granted its opponents' request for a restraining order, which prevented it from taking effect. In her final ruling, Pfaelzer rejected California's attempt to regulate immigration, which she said is the federal government's responsibility. Judge Pfaelzer's ruling strikes down portions of the initiative that would have required law enforcement, teachers, social service and health care workers to verify a person's immigration status. Under Proposition 187, they would have had to report illegals to authorities and to deny them social service, health care and education benefits."

"All Politics: Most Of California's Prop. 187 Ruled Unconstitutional,", Mar. 19, 1998

Apr. 24, 1996 - Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act Tightens Immigration to Protect against Terrorism

"The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 is the product of legislative efforts stretching back well over a decade and stimulated to passage in part by the tragedies in Oklahoma City and the World Trade Center... Title IV addresses immigration-related terrorism issues. It establishes or adjusts mechanisms to bar alien terrorists from the U.S., to remove from the U.S. any who are here, to narrow asylum provisions which allow terrorists to frustrate efforts to bar or remove them, and to expedite deportation of criminal aliens."

"Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996: A Summary," Federation of American Scientists, June 3, 1996

Aug. 22, 1996 - Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act Denies Most Forms of Public Assistance to Most Legal Immigrants

"On August 22, President Clinton signed into law 'The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, a comprehensive bipartisan welfare reform plan that will dramatically change the nation's welfare system into one that requires work in exchange for time-limited assistance... The law includes provisions that would deny most forms of public assistance to most legal immigrants for five years or until they attain citizenship. The President has said that legal immigrants who fall on hard times through no fault of their own and need help should get it, although their sponsors should take additional responsibility for them."

"HHS Fact Sheet: The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996," (accessed July 16, 2009)

Sep. 30, 1996 - Illegal Immigrant Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act Allows Some 300,000 Central Americans to Become Legal Residents

"In enacting the Illegal Immigrant Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) of 1996, Congress rewrote provisions in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that pertain to the circumstances under which certain aliens subject to expulsion from the United States may become legal residents. How aliens are affected by these statutory changes is being played out most vividly in the cases of Central Americans who first came to seek asylum the United States in the 1980s. As many as 300,000 Nicaraguans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans are potentially affected by these revisions."

"Central American Asylum Seekers: Impact of 1996 Immigration Law,", Nov. 21, 1997


Feb. 16, 2000 - AFL-CIO Labor Union Supports Amnesty for Immigrants in the United States Illegally

"Millions of hard-working people who make enormous contributions to their communities and workplace are denied basic human rights because of their undocumented status... The AFL-CIO supports a new amnesty program that would allow these members of local communities to adjust their status to permanent residents and become eligible for naturalization."

"The AFL-CIO Calls for Amnesty," AFL-CIO Executive Council, Feb. 16, 2000

Nov. 9, 2000 - Bring Them Home Alive Act Grants Refugee Status to Foreigners Who Return Living Vietnam or Korean War POWs or MIAs

"Directs the Attorney General to grant refugee status in the United States to any alien (and the parent, spouse, or child of such alien) who: (1) is a national of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, China, or any of the independent states of the former Soviet Union; and (2) personally delivers into U.S. custody a living American Vietnam War POW or MIA. Requires the granting of the same status to any alien (and parent, spouse, or child) who is a national of North Korea, China, or any of the independent states of the former Soviet Union and who personally delivers a living American Korean War POW or MIA."    

"S.484 (106th): Bring Them Home Alive Act of 2000, Library of Congress Summary," (accessed Apr. 22, 2013)

Dec. 21, 2000 - Section 245(i) of the Legal Immigration Family Equity (LIFE) Act Grants Legalization to Qualifying Immigrants in the US Illegally

"Adjustment of status under Section 245(i) is one of several immigration benefit provisions created by the Legal Immigration Family Equity Act and LIFE Act Amendments (LIFE Act) enacted on December 21, 2000... Section 245(i) allows certain persons who have an immigrant visa immediately available but entered without inspection or otherwise violated their status and thus are ineligible to apply for adjustment of status in the United States—to apply if they pay a $1,000 penalty... This is an important benefit for eligible individuals. Without Section 245(i), many individuals who entered illegally or violated their status are restricted from filing for adjustment in the United States and must obtain their immigrant visas overseas... The LIFE Act also... Creates a new temporary 'V' non-immigrant status to allow the spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents... to be admitted to and work in the United States while they are waiting for a visa number."

"INS Implements Section 245(i) Provision of the LIFE Act,", Mar. 23, 2001

2000 Legal Immigration Family Equity (LIFE) Act

Sep. 11, 2001 - Terrorist Attacks Prompt US Department of Defense to Expand Military Support along the Borders

"The military generally provides support to law enforcement and immigration authorities along the southern border. Reported escalations in criminal activity and illegal immigration, however, have prompted some lawmakers to reevaluate the extent and type of military support that occurs in the border region... Addressing domestic laws and activities with the military, however, might run afoul of the Posse Comitatus Act [U.S. Code, Title 18, § 1385], which prohibits use of the armed forces to perform the tasks of civilian law enforcement unless explicitly authorized... After the attacks of September 11, 2001, military support was expanded to include counterterrorism activities. Although the DOD [Department of Defense] does not have the 'assigned responsibility to stop terrorists from coming across our borders,' its support role in counterdrug and counterterrorism efforts appears to have increased the Department’s profile in border security."

Congressional Research Service (CRS), "Border Security and Military Support: Legal Authorizations and Restrictions,", Mar. 23, 2006

May 14, 2002 - Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act Updates Immigration Databases and Travel Document Requirements

"Approximately eight months after the terrorist attacks of September 11, on May 14, 2002, President George W. Bush signed the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002. …It represents the most comprehensive immigration-related response to the continuing terrorist threat America faces.

The Border Security law contains several provisions that are critical to our ability to control our border. Among the most important are:
A requirement that the immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) make interoperable all its internal databases, so that all information about a particular alien may be accessed with a single search;

A requirement that federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies share data on aliens with the INS and the State Department; and

A requirement that all travel and entry documents, including visas, issued to aliens by the United States be machine-readable and tamper-resistant and include a standard biometric identifier."

"The Enhanced Border Security and Visa Reform Act of 2002, H.R. 3525,", June 2002

Oct. 1, 2004 - "Minuteman Project" Begins Recruiting Civilians to Patrol the US-Mexico Border

"In Arizona, a group calling itself the Minuteman Project has stationed scores of men and women along the Mexican border in a controversial effort to track down undocumented immigrants. The Minutmen take their name from a militia group during the American Revolutionary War. The group’s founder, James Gilchrist, says the project [since Oct. 1, 2004] has attracted some 450 volunteers from around the country. On Monday, Gilchirst said they aided in the arrest of 146 undocumented immigrants. The Minutemen have staked out across a 23-mile stretch of border northeast of Nogales for the month-long action. Many use binoculars and night-vision goggles. Some are armed with guns. Over 20 pilots with aircraft are also surveying the area. Organizers call their effort a peaceful protest over the government’s failure to secure its borders. Both the Mexican government and the Bush administration have described them the Minutemen as vigilantes. Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union has sent observers to keep tabs on the Minutemen to ensure they don’t take the law into their own hands."

"Vigilantes or Civilian Border Patrol? A Debate on the Minuteman Project,", Apr. 5, 2005

May 11, 2005 - REAL ID Act Expands Laws for Asylum and Deportation of Foreigners for Terrorist Activity

"[T]he major provisions of the REAL ID Act, as enacted, which inter alia, (1)modifies the eligibility criteria for asylum and withholding of removal; (2) limits judicial review of certain immigration decisions; (3) provides additional waiver authority over laws that might impede the expeditious construction of barriers and roads along land borders, including a 14-mile wide fence near San Diego; (4) expand the scope of terror-related activity making an alien inadmissible or deportable, as well as ineligible for certain forms of relief from removal; (5) requires states to meet certain minimum security standards in order for the drivers’ licenses and personal identification cards they use to be accepted for federal purposes; (6) requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to enter into the appropriate background information of any person convicted of using a false driver’s license for the purpose of boarding an airplane; and (7) requires the Department of Homeland Security to study and plan new ways to improve U.S. security and improve inter-agency communications and information sharing, as well as establish a ground surveillance pilot program."

"Immigration: Analysis of the Major Provisions of the READ ID Act of 2005,", May 25, 2005

Nov. 2, 2005 - President Bush’s Secure Border Initiative Announced

"The Secure Border Initiative (SBI) is a comprehensive multi-year plan to secure America's borders and reduce illegal migration. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has announced an overall vision for the SBI which includes:
  • More agents to patrol our borders, secure our ports of entry and enforce immigration laws;
  • Expanded detention and removal capabilities to eliminate 'catch and release' once and for all;
  • A comprehensive and systemic upgrading of the technology used in controlling the border, including increased manned aerial assets, expanded use of UAVs, and next-generation detection technology;
  • Increased investment in infrastructure improvements at the border – providing additional physical security to sharply reduce illegal border crossings; and
  • Greatly increased interior enforcement of our immigration laws – including more robust worksite enforcement."

"Fact Sheet: Secure Border Initiative,", Nov. 2, 2005

Oct. 26, 2006 - Secure Fence Act Authorizes Fencing along the US-Mexican Border

"The Secure Fence Act was signed into law on October 26, 2006. The Act authorizes the construction of [700] hundreds of miles of double-layered fencing along the nation's Southern border. It also directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to take action to stop the unlawful entry of undocumented immigrants, terrorists, and contraband into the U.S. using both personnel and surveillance technology. The Secretary is further instructed to evaluate U.S. Customs and Border Protection training and equipment. Finally, the Act requests a study on the feasibility of constructing an improved security system along the Northern border."

"2007 Edition: Principles for an Immigration Policy to Strengthen and Expand the American Middle Class,", 2007

Jan. 2007 - US Department of Homeland Security Estimates 11.8 Million Unauthorized Immigrants in US with 59% from Mexico

"[A]n estimated 11.8 million unauthorized immigrants were living in the United States in January 2007 compared to 8.5 million in 2000. Between 2000 and 2007, the unauthorized population increased 3.3 million; the annual average increase during this period was 470,000. Nearly 4.2 million (35 percent) of the total 11.8 million unauthorized residents in 2007 had entered in 2000 or later. An estimated 7.0 million (59 percent) were from Mexico."

US Department of Homeland Security, "Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: January 2007,, Sep. 2008

Jan. 2008 - Estimated Number of Unauthorized Immigrants Decreases to 11.6 Million

"[T]he number of unauthorized immigrants living in the United States declined from 11.8 million in January 2007 to 11.6 million in January 2008 [a 1.7% decrease]. The 2008 estimate marks the first time since 2005 when DHS began producing annual estimates that there was not a year-to-year increase in unauthorized residents. During the 2000-2008 period, the unauthorized immigrant population increased by 37 percent."

US Department of Homeland Security, "Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: January 2008,", Feb. 2009

Apr. 23, 2010 - Controversial Arizona Bill (SB 1070) Signed into Law, Expanding the State's Authority to Combat Illegal Immigration

"Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law Friday [April 23] the most restrictive immigration bill in the country [SB 1070], setting the stage for a showdown with the Obama administration and reigniting a divisive national debate less than seven months before congressional midterm elections... Under Arizona's new law, to take effect in 90 days, it will be a state crime to be in the country illegally, and legal immigrants will be required to carry paperwork proving their status. Arizona police will generally be required to question anyone they 'reasonably suspect' of being undocumented -- a provision that critics argue will lead to widespread racial profiling, but that supporters insist will give authorities the flexibility to enforce existing immigration laws."

Anne E. Kornblut and Spencer S. Hsu, "Arizona Governor Signs Immigration Bill, Reopening National Debate,", Apr. 24, 2010

July 28, 2010 - Judge Blocks Key Parts of Arizona's Anti-Illegal Immigration Law

"A federal judge Wednesday temporarily blocked key parts of Arizona's new immigration law on the eve of implementation...

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton granted the Obama administration's request for a preliminary injunction on the grounds that immigration enforcement is the responsibility of the federal government, not states...

...[Judge Bolton] blocked a requirement that police check the immigration status of people stopped for such routine infractions as traffic violations, if police suspect they are in the U.S. illegally... [and] a section that required law enforcement to detain individuals until their legal status was clarified...

She also blocked a section that required foreigners to carry documents proving they had permission to be in the U.S., and another provision that banned illegal immigrants from seeking work in Arizona."

"Judge Blocks Arizona Law,", July 29, 2010

Sep. 1, 2010 - Inflow of Unauthorized Immigrants in 2007-2009 Decreased by Two-Thirds from 2000-2005

"The annual inflow of unauthorized immigrants to the United States was nearly two-thirds smaller in the March 2007 to March 2009 period than it had been from March 2000 to March 2005, according to new estimates [released Sep. 1, 2010] by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center."

"Hours after the report was released, the Obama administration credited its tough enforcement measures for the decline, citing its crackdown on employers, stepped-up deportations and plentiful staffing of the Border Patrol. Analysts of migration patterns, however, say the single largest factor is probably the economy."

Pew Research Center "US Unauthorized Immigration Flows Are Down Sharply Since Mid-Decade,",, Sep. 1, 2010

Los Angeles Times   "A Window for Immigration Reform,", Sep. 3, 2010

Jan. 14, 2011 - Secure Border Initiative Canceled

"Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Friday canceled the controversial virtual fence along the U.S. border with Mexico, citing technical problems, cost overruns and schedule delays since its inception in 2005. The Secure Border Initiative-network, a high-tech surveillance system to reduce border smuggling, so far has cost taxpayers almost $1 billion for two regions in Arizona, covering just 53 miles overall on the 2,000-mile border, according to a homeland security report."

"Homeland Security Chief Cancels Costly Virtual Border Fence,", Jan. 14, 2011

May 26, 2011 - US Supreme Court Upholds Arizona Law Penalizing Businesses That Hire Undocumented Immigrants

"The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld an Arizona law that imposes sanctions against businesses that hire illegal immigrants.

The court, on a 5-3 vote, said federal immigration law does not bar Arizona from suspending or revoking the licenses of businesses that employ unauthorized aliens...

Then-Gov. Janet Napolitano signed the Arizona law in 2007, saying that while immigration is a federal responsibility, Arizona had been forced to deal with the issue because the demand for cheap, undocumented labor in the state was contributing to illegal immigration.

Numerous organizations, including the Chamber of Commerce, argued the state's law was preempted by the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which forbids states from imposing sanctions for hiring illegal immigrants...

Several states have enacted measures that seek to penalize employers for hiring illegal workers, while others are considering legislation similar to Arizona's."

Brent Kendall and Stephanie Gleason, "US High Court Upholds Arizona Immigration Law Targeting Employers,", May 26, 2

June 15, 2012 - President Obama Signs Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to Allow Some Undocumented Immigrants Who Came to the United States as Children to Stay in the Country

"Hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children will be allowed to remain in the country without fear of deportation and able to work, under an executive action the Obama administration announced on Friday. Administration officials said the president used existing legal authority to make the broad policy change, which could temporarily benefit more than 800,000 young people. He did not consult with Congress, where Republicans have generally opposed measures to benefit illegal immigrants... "They are Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper,” President Obama said in announcing the new policy in the White House Rose Garden on Friday... Under the change, the Department of Homeland Security will no longer initiate the deportation of illegal immigrants who came to the United States before age 16, have lived here for at least five years, and are in school, are high school graduates or are military veterans in good standing. The immigrants must also be under 30 and have clean criminal records..."

Julia Preston and John H. Cushman Jr., "Obama to Permit Young Migrants to Remain in U.S.,", June 15, 2012

June 25, 2012 - US Supreme Court Upholds Centerpiece of 2010 Arizona Immigration Law, Rejects Other Provisions

"The Supreme Court on Monday delivered a split decision on Arizona's tough 2010 immigration law, upholding its most hotly debated provision but blocking others on the grounds that they interfered with the federal government's role in setting immigration policy.

The court unanimously sustained the law's centerpiece, the one critics have called its 'show me your papers' provision, though they left the door open to further challenges. The provision requires state law enforcement officials to determine the immigration status of anyone they stop or arrest if they have reason to suspect that the individual might be in the country illegally.

The justices parted ways on three other provisions, with the majority rejecting measures that would have subjected illegal immigrants to criminal penalties for activities like seeking work.

The ruling is likely to set the ground rules for the immigration debate, with supporters of the Arizona law pushing for 'show me your papers' provisions in more states and opponents trying to overturn criminal sanctions for illegal immigrants."

Adam Liptak, "Blocking Parts of Arizona Law, Justices Allow Its Centerpiece,", June 25, 2012

Mar. 7, 2013 - Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act Adds Immigrants to Protected Classes

"[T]he VAWA [Violence Against Women Act] provides a temporary visa and creates a pathway to legalization for undocumented immigrants who are the victims of domestic abuse. The idea being that immigrants who are subject to domestic violence don’t report it for fear of being deported or are abused though the threat of deportation. As a result, VAWA has been a useful tool for undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows by both speaking out against their abusers and securing legal status."

"Gendered Laws: VAWA, IRCA, and the Future of Immigration Reform,", Mar. 7, 2013

Nov. 20, 2014 - President Obama Announced Executive Action to Prevent Deportation of Millions of Immigrants in the United States Illegally

"President Barack Obama imposed the most sweeping immigration reform in a generation on Thursday, easing the threat of deportation for some 4.7 million undocumented immigrants and setting up a clash with Republicans who vow to fight his moves. In a White House speech, Obama rejected Republican arguments that his decision to bypass Congress and take executive action was tantamount to amnesty for illegal immigrants… With 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, Obama's plan would let some 4.4 million who are parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents remain in the country temporarily, without the threat of deportation. Those undocumented residents could apply legally for jobs and join American society, but not vote or qualify for insurance under the president's healthcare law. The measure would apply to those who have been in the United States for at least five years. An additional 270,000 people would be eligible for relief under the expansion of a 2012 move by Obama to stop deporting people brought illegally to the United States as children by their parents."

"Obama Unveils U.S. Immigration Reform, Setting up Fight with Republicans,", Nov. 21, 2014

June 23, 2016 - Supreme Court Deadlocked in 4-4 Vote on Challenge to Obama's Immigration Executive Actions

"The 4-4 tie leaves in place a lower court ruling that put the Obama administration's DAPA program on hold. If you remember, back in 2014, President Obama announced that he was expanding his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which shielded young people, commonly referred to as 'dreamers,' who were brought into the country illegally by their parents. That program shielded some 1.1 million immigrants from deportation, while the expansion of that program and the creation of another — called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) — would have shielded some 4 million others."

"With High Court Evenly Split, Obama's Immigration Actions Remain on Hold,", June 23, 2016

Jan. 25, 2017 - President Trump Signs Executive Orders to Increase Border Patrol Forces and Begin Plans to Build Border Wall

"Trump signed two executive orders directing the construction of a wall on the US-Mexico border, boosting border patrol forces and increasing the number of immigration enforcement officers who carry out deportations. The orders also call for stripping sanctuary cities of federal grant funding and announced sweeping new criteria that could make many more undocumented immigrants priorities for deportation... The executive orders Trump signed Wednesday call for boosting the ranks of Border Patrol forces by an additional 5,000 agents as well as for 10,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers to carry out deportations. The orders noted that the increases were subject to Congress's appropriation of sufficient funds... Trump also outlined new criteria for determining which undocumented immigrants should be prioritized for deportation, putting hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions more people at the top of the federal government's list of people to deport. Any undocumented immigrant convicted or simply charged with a crime that hasn't been adjudicated could be deported under the Trump administration's new policy... New priorities for deportation under Trump also include any undocumented immigrants who abuse public benefits, or simply those considered 'a risk to public safety or national security... in the judgment of an immigration officer.'"

"Trump Orders Construction of Border Wall, Boosts Deportation Force,", Jan. 25, 2017

Jan. - Mar. 2017 - President Trump Signs Two Immigration Executive Orders Suspending Entry of People from Several Predominantly Muslim Countries and all Refugees

"US President Donald Trump signed a new executive order Monday [Mar. 6, 2017] that bans immigration from six Muslim-majority countries, dropping Iraq from January's previous order, and reinstates a temporary blanket ban on all refugees. The new travel ban comes six weeks after Trump's original executive order [Jan. 27, 2017] caused chaos at airports nationwide before it was blocked by federal courts. It removes out language in the original order that indefinitely banned Syrian refugees and called for prioritizing the admission of refugees who are religious minorities in their home countries. That provision drew criticism of a religious test for entry and would have prioritized Christians over Muslims fleeing war-torn countries in the Middle East. The new ban, which takes effect March 16, also explicitly exempts citizens of the six banned countries who are legal US permanent residents or have valid visas to enter the US -- including those whose visas were revoked during the original implementation of the ban, senior administration officials said... The new measures will block citizens of Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from obtaining visas for at least 90 days. The order also suspends admission of refugees into the US for 120 days, directing US officials to improve vetting measures for a program that is already widely regarded as extremely stringent."

"US President Donald Trump Signs New Travel Ban, Exempts Iraq,", Mar. 7, 2017

July 24, 2017 - Massachusetts Court Rules Law Enforcement Officials Cannot Comply with ICE Detainers

"The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled Monday that local and state law enforcement officers do not have the authority to arrest and hold a person solely on the basis of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer... While many states and municipalities issue guidance to local law enforcement authorities, the Massachusetts ruling goes one step further. In essence, it means that officers do not have the authority under state law to administer ICE detainers. An ICE detainer is issued on an undocumented person who has been arrested on local criminal charges when ICE believes there is probable cause to remove the person from the United States, according to the ICE website. If a local law enforcement agency complies with the request, when the person is released from local custody, ICE immediately takes the person into custody."

Sarah Jorgensen, "Massachusetts Court: State Officers Canot Hold Immigrants for ICE,", July 24, 2017

Sep. 5, 2017 - Trump Administration Announces End to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program

"The Trump administration Tuesday formally announced it will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — also called DACA — putting an expiration date on the legal protections granted to roughly 800,000 people known as 'DREAMers,' who entered the country illegally as children. Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke said the administration, facing legal challenges to the program, 'chose the least disruptive option,' letting the program wind down in six months, and placing the onus on a sharply divided Congress to enact former President Barack Obama's executive action into law... Duke said no current beneficiaries will be affected before March 5 of next year. But she said, 'No new initial requests or associated applications filed after today will be acted on.' Trump signaled the decision earlier on Tuesday [Sep. 5], tweeting, 'Congress, get ready to do your job - DACA.'"

"Trump Ends DACA, Calls on Congress to Act,", Sep. 5, 2017

Sep. 25, 2017 - Trump Administration Announces New Travel Restrictions

"The Trump administration has unveiled new travel restrictions on certain foreigners from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen as a replacement to a central portion of its controversial travel ban signed earlier this year. The new restrictions on travel vary by country and include a phased-in approach beginning next month... Individuals with that 'bona fide' exception -- such as a foreign grandparent of a US citizen -- can still apply for visas until October 18. After that date, the new restrictions on travel will begin. The revised travel ban effecting those from six-Muslim majority countries officially expired earlier Sunday, and Sudan was removed from the list of affected countries. The new list of countries notably includes several non-Muslim majority nations, including North Korea and Venezuela. In most instances, travel will be broadly suspended, while in other cases, travelers will have to undergo enhanced screening and vetting requirements. For instance, foreign nationals from North Korea are banned, but a student from Iran will be allowed in, subject to 'enhanced screening and vetting requirements.'"

Laura Jarrett and Sophie Tatum, "Trump Administration Announces New Travel Restrictions,", Sep. 25, 2017

Oct. 5, 2017 - California Becomes Sanctuary State

"Gov. Jerry Brown signed landmark 'sanctuary state' legislation Thursday, vastly limiting who state and local law enforcement agencies can hold, question and transfer at the request of federal immigration authorities.

Senate Bill 54, which takes effect in January, has been hailed as part of a broader effort by majority Democrats in the California Legislature to shield more than 2.3 million immigrants living illegally in the state. Weeks before Brown's signature made it law, it was met with swift denunciations from Trump administration officials and became the focus of a national debate over how far states and cities can go to prevent their officers from enforcing federal immigration laws...

The new law will largely prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies from using either personnel or funds to hold, question or share information about people with federal immigration agents unless those individuals have been convicted of one or more offenses from a list of 800 crimes outlined in a 2013 state law.

Federal immigration authorities will still be able to work with state corrections officials — a key concession Brown had demanded — and will be able to enter county jails to question immigrants. But the state attorney general's office will be required to publish guidelines and training recommendations to limit immigration agents' access to personal information. And all law enforcement agencies will have to produce annual reports on their participation in task forces that involve federal agencies, as well as on the people they transfer to immigration authorities.

The new law doesn't specify what happens if local law enforcement agencies don't comply with the new rules. But the attorney general has broad authority under the state Constitution to prosecute police and sheriff's agencies that don’t comply."

Jazmine Ulloa, "California Becomes 'Sanctuary State' in Rebuke of Trump Immigration Policy,", Oct. 5, 2017

Feb. 27, 2018 - US Supreme Court Rules Undocumented Immigrants Can Be Detained Indefinitely

"The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday [Feb. 27, 2018] that people held in immigration detention, sometimes for years, are not entitled to periodic hearings to decide whether they may be released on bail...

The Ninth Circuit had ruled that bond hearings are required after six months to determine whether detainees who do not pose flight risks or a danger to public safety may be released while their cases proceed. The court based its ruling on an interpretation of the federal immigration laws, not the Constitution, though it said its reading was required to avoid constitutional difficulties...

The vote was 5 to 3, with the court's more conservative members in the majority. Justice Stephen G. Breyer summarized his dissent from the bench, a rare move signaling intense disagreement."

"No Bail Hearings for Detained Immigrants, Justices Rule,", Feb. 27, 2018

June 26, 2018 - US Supreme Court Upholds Trump Travel Ban and Overturns 1944 Justification of Detention Camps

"President Trump acted lawfully in imposing limits on travel from several predominantly Muslim nations, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday.

The vote was 5 to 4, with the court's conservatives in the majority.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said that Mr. Trump had ample statutory authority to make national security judgments in the realm of immigration... He concluded that the proclamation [travel ban], viewed in isolation, was neutral and justified by national security concerns...

Even as it upheld the travel ban, the majority took a momentous step. It overruled Korematsu v. United States, the 1944 decision that endorsed the detention of Japanese-Americans during World War II...

Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch joined the majority opinion.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor delivered a searing dissent from the bench in which she accused the court's majority of upholding an 'openly discriminatory policy motivated by animus' to a religious minority... Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined Justice Sotomayor's dissent.

In a second, milder dissent, Justice Stephen G. Breyer, joined by Justice Elena Kagan, questioned whether the administration could be trusted to enforce what he called 'the proclamation's elaborate system of exemptions and waivers.'"

Adam Liptak and Michael D. Shear, "Supreme Court Upholds Trump's Travel Ban,", June 26, 2018

June 7, 2019 - United States and Mexico Sign Joint Deal on Immigration

"A U.S.-Mexico Joint Declaration was announced Friday [June 7, 2019] evening, and Trump backed off on his threat to impose additional tariffs on Mexico. Trump had threatened to impose additional on tariffs on the country if it did not take additional actions to curb migration to the U.S.-Mexico border. The proposed tariffs were set to take effect on Monday [June 10, 2019], beginning at a 5% tariff on all Mexican goods and gradually increasing to 25% by October.

As part of the agreement, Mexico will do two main things. First, Mexico will take 'unprecedented steps to increase [immigration] enforcement,' including by deploying the National Guard throughout the country and 'giving priority to its southern border,' where migrants from Central America typically enter the country. Second, Mexico will participate in an expanded implementation of the Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as Remain in Mexico, which requires those seeking asylum in the United States to be returned to Mexico, where they will wait until a decision has been made on their case."

Adrienne Masha Varkiani, "Trump Makes Big Claim about His Mexico Deal That Isn't Backed Up on Paper,", June 8, 2019

June 21, 2019 - SCOTUS Rules Undocumented Immigrants Charged with Possessing Firearms Must Know Their Unlawful Immigration Status to Be Convicted

"In a little-noticed case [Rehaif v. United States], the Supreme Court on Friday [June 21, 2019] held 7–2 that undocumented immigrants charged with possessing firearms must know their unlawful [immigration] status to be convicted of a crime…

The facts of the case are as follows: Hamid Rehaif came to Florida, flunked out of school, and overstayed his student visa. Then he went to a firing range and shot two guns. The federal government tried him for 'possessing firearms as an alien unlawfully in the United States,' which carries up to a 10-year sentence for those who 'knowingly' violate it…

Notably, this issue won't just apply to people who are currently charged. Typically, decisions like these also apply retroactively to people who are on direct appeal from their convictions. That means many people currently languishing in federal custody may have an opportunity to challenge their convictions… This case may not resonate solely at the federal level. Many states model their statutes on federal law, and may find themselves bound to follow the Supreme Court's interpretation where the language is identical."

Andrew Fleishman, "The Supreme Court Just Showed a Way Forward on Criminal Justice Reform,", June 21, 2019

July 9, 2019 - California Becomes First State to Extend Medicaid to Undocumented Immigrant Young Adults

"California has become the first state to extend health care coverage to some undocumented young adults through its Medicaid program.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday [July 9, 2019] signed SB-104, which extends health care benefits to individuals 19 to 25 years of age, regardless of their immigration status... It is expected to cover some 90,000 low-income residents between the ages of 19 and 25 and to cost the state $98 million in its initial year. The coverage would take effect in 2020, according to the legislation.

The federal Medicaid program prohibits payment to a state for medical assistance furnished to an undocumented immigrant who is not lawfully admitted for permanent residence or otherwise permanently residing in the United States under color of law, according to the bill."

Devan Cole and Sarah Moon, "California Gov Signs Health Care Bill Extending Coverage to Some Undocumented Residents,", July 10, 2019

Dec. 12, 2019 - American Samoans Ruled US Citizens by Birth

"A federal judge in Utah said Thursday that American Samoans are US citizens and should be issued new passports reflecting that.

'This court is not imposing 'citizenship by judicial fiat.' The action is required by the mandate of the Fourteenth Amendment as construed and applied by Supreme Court precedent,' wrote Judge Clark Waddoups in the US District Court for the District of Utah...

It's unclear whether Waddoups' order applies to American Samoans beyond Utah...

American Samoa has been a US territory since 1900. Those born in the other US territories -- Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam and the Northern Marianas -- all get citizenship at birth, but that was determined by statute in Congress. No such law exists for American Samoa.

American Samoans living in Utah brought the suit in 2018, arguing that being 'non-citizen nationals,' instead of US citizens closed the door to some employment opportunities and didn't allow them to vote, among other rights afforded to US citizens.

Their passports also include a disclaimer that reads: 'The bearer is a United States national and not a United States citizen.'"

Priscilla Alvarez, "Federal Judge Rules American Samoans Are US Citizens by Birth,", Dec. 12, 2019

Mar. 2020 - US Immigration Policy Adjusted in Response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic

In Mar. 2020, in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the Trump administration changed some immigration rules, including:
        • Mar. 10: The Office of Refugee Resettlement temporarily stopped placing immigrant children in Washington state or California.
        • Mar. 13: Travel from China and Iran was restricted earlier in the year and 26 European countries were added to the list in March. Green card holders and immediate family members must face additional health screenings to enter the US.
        • Mar. 13: Social visitation to all ICE detention facilities was temporarily stopped.
        • Mar. 16: Travel restrictions were extended to include Ireland and the UK.
        • Mar. 17: A day after Guatemala closed its borders, an asylum agreement between the country and the US was suspended.
        • Mar. 17: ICE (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement) will reschedule in-person appointments for immigrants who are not in detention and recent arrivals will be required to check in at 60 days after arrival instead of 30.
        • Mar. 17: US Citizenship and Immigration Services suspended all in-person services, including naturalization ceremonies.
        • Mar. 18: ICE suspends deportation flights to China, Italy, and South Korea.
        • Mar. 18. Refugee admissions were paused after the International Organization for Migration, the organization that books flights, suspended resettlement travel.
        • Mar. 18: Nonessential travel between Canada and the US has been paused by mutual agreement.
        • Mar. 18: The DOJ (Department of Justice) closed more immigration courts and postponed all hearings for immigrants who are not in detention.
        • Mar. 18: ICE dialed back operations, focusing on undocumented immigrants who are “subject to mandatory detention based on criminal grounds.”
        • Mar. 20: The US and Mexico announced a joint effort to restrict non-essential travel between the two countries.
        • Mar. 22: Trump announced undocumented immigrants could be tested for COVID-19 (coronavirus) without fear of arrest or deportation.

Priscilla Alvarez, "12 Changes to the US Immigration System during the Coronavirus Pandemic,", Mar. 18, 2020

Brett Samuels, "Trumps Says Undocumented Immigrants Can Get Tested for Coronavirus without Fear of Deportation,", Mar. 22, 2020

Brett Samuels, "US Announces Travel Restrictions with Mexico, Citing Coronavirus,", Mar. 20, 2020

Apr. 22, 2020 - No COVID-19 Student Federal Aid or Stimulus Checks for Undocumented Immigrants and Spouses

Guidance issued on Apr. 21, 2020 by the Education Department bars undocumented students from receiving federal COVID-19 stimulus aid. The aid is meant to pay for expenses including food, housing, and childcare due to the unavailability of college services because of COVID-19 (coronavirus) school closures. $6 billion in aid was distributed to colleges and universities for the institutions to grant to students.

Education Department Spokesperson Angela Morabito stated, "The CARES Act makes clear that this taxpayer funded relief fund should be targeted to U.S. citizens, which is consistently echoed throughout the law."

The CARES Act also provides $1,200 stimulus checks to American citizens earning up to $75,000 and an additional $500 per child. However, undocumented immigrants are excluded, even those in the process of obtaining legal status. And American citizens who are married to undocumented immigrants and file taxes jointly will not receive stimulus checks. Over one million Americans are estimated to not receive stimulus checks because they are married to an undocumented immigrant.

Tal Axelrod, "DeVos Blocks Undocumented College Students from Receiving Emergency Aid amid Pandemic,", Apr. 21, 2020

Jennie Jarvie, "These U.S. Citizens Won't Get Coronavirus Stimulus Checks - Because Their Spouses Are Immigrants,", Apr. 22, 2020

Apr. 22, 2020 - Trump Halts Immigration during COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic

On Apr. 20, 2020, President Trump tweeted, "In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!"

Trump signed the executive order on Apr. 22, 2020, officially suspending immigration for people who are outside the US, do not have an immigrant visa, and do not have official travel documents other than visas. The order is expected to prevent thousands from immigrating.

The executive order is in effect for 60 days, but may be renewed or modified before it expires.

Trump stated, "This order will ensure that unemployed Americans of all backgrounds will be first in line for jobs as our economy reopens."

Exceptions to the order include: healthcare workers; US military members, their spouses, and children; the spouses and minor children of US citizens; people entering for national security or law enforcement reasons; investor visas; and Iraqi and Afghan nationals who have worked for the federal government.

Priscilla Alvarez, "What Trump's New Executive Order on Immigration Covers,", Apr. 23, 2020

Betsy Klein, Priscilla Alvarez, and Kevin Liptak, "Trump Claims He Will Temporarily Suspend Immigration into US due to Coronavirus Fears,", Apr. 21, 2020

Barbara Sprunt, "READ: Trump Signs Proclamation Temporarily Suspending Immigration,", Apr. 22, 2020, Apr. 20, 2020

May 7, 2020 - Illegal Border Crossings from Canada to US Increased 184% from 2016 to 2019

Illegal border crossings from Canada to the United States increased from 558 people in 2016 to 1,586 people in 2019, according to data obtained by the Associated Press (AP) and published on May 7, 2020.

Though illegal immigration via the northern border has increased, the total is less than 1% of the illegal crossings at the US/Mexico border.

In 2016, 3.6% of people crossing the northern border illegally were Mexican. That percentage jumped to 28% in 2019. Romanians, including many ethnic Roma, Haitians, and Indians were among other nationalities crossing the border illegally.

Wilson Ring, "US Northern Border Illegal Crossings Rise; Many Are Mexicans,", May 7, 2020

June 15, 2020 - Supreme Court Declines to Hear Sanctuary Policy Case

The Supreme Court declined to review United States v. California, No. 19-532. As a result, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruling stands, allowing California's sanctuary policy to remain in effect. The lower court ruling stated that the policy "may well frustrate the federal government’s immigration enforcement efforts... [But] whatever the wisdom of the underlying policy adopted by California, that frustration is permissible, because California has the right."

The Trump administration petitioned the Supreme Court for review of the lower court ruling, arguing that sanctuary policies conflicted with federal law and posed a public safety risk. The petition stated, "When officers are unable to arrest aliens — often criminal aliens — who are in removal proceedings or have been ordered removed from the United States, those aliens instead return to the community, where criminal aliens are disproportionately likely to commit crimes."

Adam Liptak, "Supreme Court Won’t Hear Case on California Sanctuary Law,", June 15, 2020

June 18, 2020 - Supreme Court Blocks Effort to End DACA

On June 18, 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration had not given adequate justification for ending the program, leaving DACA in place. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the opinion, "The dispute before the Court is not whether [Department of Homeland Security] may rescind DACA. All parties agree that it may. The dispute is instead primarily about the procedure the agency followed in doing so."

John Kruzel, "Supreme Court Blocks Trump Plan to End DACA Program,", June, 18, 2020

Aug. 3, 2020 - Some Immigrations Fees to Increase

According to the Aug. 3, 2020 Federal Register, the Department of Homeland Security will raise some immigration and naturalization fees beginning on Oct. 2, 2020. Online naturalization application fees will increase from $640 to $1,160. The US will join only three other countries (Australia, Fiji, and Iran) that charge a fee for asylum seekers with a $50 charge. A proposed $275 DACA renewal fee was scrapped and genealogy fees will be lowered.

Department of Homeland Security, "U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Fee Schedule and Changes to Certain Other Immigration Benefit Request Requirements," federal, Aug. 3, 2020

Geneva Sands, "US to Raise Naturalization Application Fees by $500,", July 31, 2020

[Editor’s Note: Judge Jeffrey White, US District Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, blocked the fee increase on Sep. 30, 2020. He wrote, “Plaintiffs persuasively argue that the public interest would be served by enjoining or staying the effective date of the Final Rule because if it takes effect, it will prevent vulnerable and low-income applicants from applying for immigration benefits, will block access to humanitarian protections, and will expose those populations to further danger… Plaintiffs also cite comments and research that argue the public at large would be harmed if the Final Rule goes into effect because it will negatively impact tax revenues and would delay individuals seeking to naturalize from participating in essential civic activities like voting, service in public office, and jury service. Defendants do not counter those arguments.”

Source: Priscilla Alvarez, “Federal Judge Blocks Attempt to Hike Naturalization Fees by 80%,”, Sep. 30, 2020]

Nov. 3, 2020 - Colorado and Florida Vote to Amend Constitutions to Include Citizenship Requirement for Voting

Colorado and Florida voters passed Amendment 76 and Amendment 1 respectively to amend the state constitutions to include a citizenship requirement for voting. Both constitutions are expected to be amended to state that "only a citizen" who is 18 years of age or older may vote.

Ballotpedia, "Colorado Amendment 76, Citizenship Requirement for Voting Initiative (2020)," (accessed Nov. 4, 2020)

Ballotpedia, "Florida Amendment 1, Citizen Requirement for Voting Initiative (2020)," (accessed Nov. 4, 2020)

Dec. 1, 2020 - Trump Administration Updates Citizenship Test

The citizenship test now requires applicants to answer 12 questions of 20 correctly, as opposed to six of 10. Applicants now must study a list of 128 potential questions, as opposed to 100 potential questions.

18 possible questions were removed (11 that had simple answers), and were replaced with more nuanced, complicated questions that could have subjective answers such as "Why did the United States enter the Vietnam War?" and "Supreme Court Justices serve for life. Why?"

Other questions' answers were revised. For example, the answer to "Who does a US Senator represent?" used to be "all people of the state." Now the correct answer for the test is "citizens in the state."

Critics say the test is now unnecessarily difficult, requires a higher level of English fluency, and accuse the administration of limiting citizenship for political reasons. President-elect Biden can reverse the changes when he takes office in 2021.

Gina Pollack, "The U.S. Citizenship Test Just Got Harder. Would You Pass?,", Dec. 2, 2020

Simon Romero and Miriam Jordan, "New U.S. Citizenship Test Is Longer and More Difficult,", Dec. 3, 2020

Dec. 4, 2020 - Federal Judge Orders DACA Restoration

US District Court Judge Judge Nicholas Garaufis ordered the Trump administration to restore DACA to the terms "prior to the attempted rescission of September 2017," and to reinstate two-year permits.

As of July 2020, there are an estimated 300,000 people eligible for DACA who are waiting to apply, including 55,000 who have become of eligible age in the last three years.

Vanessa Romo, "Judge Orders Trump Administration to Restore DACA as It Existed under Obama,", Dec. 4, 2020

Jan. 20, 2021 - Biden Pauses Most Deportations for 100 Days

In an inauguration day memo (Jan. 20, 2021), the Department of Homeland Security was directed to halt most deportations for 100 days. The action is being taken "to ensure we have a fair and effective immigration enforcement system focused on protecting national security, border security, and public safety,” according to a DHS press release. The moratorium excludes those suspected of terrorism or espionage, those whose deportation is needed to protect national security, those who have crossed the border after Nov. 1, 2020, and those who have been convicted of an aggravated felony and pose a threat to public safety.

Priscilla Alvarez, “DHS Pauses Some Deportations for 100 days,”, Jan. 20, 2021

David Pekoske, “Review of and Interim Revision to Civil Immigration Enforcement and Removal Policies and Priorities,”, Jan. 20, 2021

Jan. 20, 2021 - Biden Revokes Travel Bans from Primarily Muslim and African Countries

On Jan. 20, 2021, President Joe Biden signed an executive order rescinding Trump’s entry bans on those from primarily Muslim and African countries. Biden’s order stated, “The United States was built on a foundation of religious freedom and tolerance, a principle enshrined in the United States Constitution. Nevertheless, the previous administration enacted a number of Executive Orders and Presidential Proclamations that prevented certain individuals from entering the United States — first from primarily Muslim countries, and later, from largely African countries. Those actions are a stain on our national conscience and are inconsistent with our long history of welcoming people of all faiths and no faith at all.”

Joseph R. Biden, Jr., “Proclamation on Ending Discriminatory Bans on Entry to The United States,”, Jan. 20, 2021

Jan. 20, 2021 - Biden Orders Census to Count All Residents, Including Undocumented Immigrants

On inauguration day (Jan. 20, 2021), President Biden signed an executive order to ensure the Census Bureau counted all residents, including undocumented immigrants. The order stated, “At no point since our Nation’s Founding has a person’s immigration status alone served as a basis for excluding that person from the total population count used in apportionment.” President Trump had pushed to have undocumented immigrants not counted as residents, presumably to reapportion House seats away from states with high numbers of undocumented immigrants.

Joseph R. Biden, “Executive Order on Ensuring a Lawful and Accurate Enumeration and Apportionment Pursuant to the Decennial Census,”, Jan. 20, 2021

Jan. 20, 2021 - Biden Ends Declaration of Emergency at US Southern Border and Halts Border Wall Construction

In a Jan. 20, 2021 executive order, Biden stated, “the declaration of a national emergency at our southern border in Proclamation 9844 of February 15, 2019... was unwarranted” and “building a massive wall that spans the entire southern border is not a serious policy solution. It is a waste of money that diverts attention from genuine threats to our homeland security. My Administration is committed to ensuring that the United States has a comprehensive and humane immigration system that operates consistently with our Nation’s values... It shall be the policy of my Administration that no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall. I am also directing a careful review of all resources appropriated or redirected to construct a southern border wall.”

Joseph R. Biden, “Proclamation on the Termination Of Emergency With Respect To The Southern Border Of The United States And Redirection Of Funds Diverted To Border Wall Construction,”, Jan. 20, 2021

Jan. 20, 2021 - Biden Extends DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) Protections

On inauguration day (Jan. 20, 2021), President Biden signed an executive order instructing the Homeland Security Secretary to “preserve and fortify DACA.”

Joseph R. Biden, “Preserving and Fortifying Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA),”, Jan. 20, 2021

Jan. 26, 2021 - Biden Justice Department Ends Zero Tolerance Policy

The Biden administration ended Trump's zero tolerance immigration policy. The policy required the prosecution of all adults crossing the southern border illegally, which resulted in children being held separately from their parents in detention centers.

Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson stated the policy "was inconsistent with the Department's longstanding principle that we exercise judgment and make individualized assessments in criminal cases. Today's action restores to prosecutors their traditional discretion to make charging decisions based on a careful review of the particular facts and circumstances of individual immigration cases."

Jaclyn Diaz, "Justice Department Rescinds Trump's 'Zero Tolerance' Immigration Policy,", Jan. 27, 2021

July 16, 2021 - Federal Judge Rules DACA Illegal

On July 16, 2021, US District Judge Andrew Hanen of the Southern District of Texas ruled DACA was illegal and put a hold on all new applications. Existing enrollees were allowed to remain in the program while the ruling allowed time for the government to consider changes to the program and continue litigation. President Biden has said the federal government will appeal the ruling, which is at odds with a Dec. 2020 federal ruling that required the federal government to process new applications.

Priscilla Alvarez and Tierney Sneed, "What to Know about DACA Being Ruled Illegal,", July 17, 2021

Aug. 2, 2021 - Biden Administration Will Maintain Trump Policy of Turning away Migrants during Pandemic

The policy, called Title 42 and used to turn away about 100,000 migrants at the southern border, will remain in place during the pandemic.

In the announcement of the extension, the CDC stated: "introduction of such noncitizens, regardless of their country of origin, migrating through Canada and Mexico into the United States creates a serious danger of the introduction of COVID-19 into the United States."

The ACLU will move forward with a lawsuit against the policy. ACLU lawyer Lee Gelernt stated: "The administration made repeated public statements that it just needed some time to build back the asylum system the Trump administration depleted. We gave them seven months. Time is up."

Joseph Choi, "Biden Administration to Keep Trump-Era Rule of Turning away Migrants during Pandemic,", Aug. 2, 2021

Oct. 2021 - Highest Number of Illegal Border Crossings Recorded since 1960s

Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020, saw the highest number of illegal border crossings since at least 1960, when the government began tracking the crossings.

Most of those apprehended (1.1 million, or 64% of the total) were individuals. Children traveling without parents of guardians, nearly 147,000, arrived in the largest numbers since 2008 when the government began tracking unaccompanied kids. The number of migrant families dropped about 48,000 from the last surge in 2019.

Though people from Mexico represented the largest portion of migrants, agents detained people from more than 160 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Eileen Sullivan and Miriam Jordan, "Illegal Border Crossings, Driven by Pandemic and Natural Disasters, Soar to Record High,", Oct. 22, 2021

Mar. 11, 2022 - Immigration Arrests Drop under Biden Administration

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) made more than 74,000 administrative immigration arrests in fiscal year 2021, down from over 100,000 yearly under the Trump administration. Deportations also dropped from 185,884 in 2020 to about 59,000 in 2021. The decreases are likely due in part to policy changes under the Biden administration that focused immigration enforcement efforts on national security, public safety and border security risks.

Priscilla Alvarez and Geneva Sands, "Immigration Arrests in the US Plunge under Biden Administration, Data Show,", Mar. 11, 2022

June 30, 2022 - US Supreme Court Rules Biden Administration May End Trump-Era "Stay in Mexico" Policy

In a 5-4 decision, the US Supreme Court ruled the Biden administration may end the "Stay in Mexico" policy first enacted in 2019 by the Trump administration. The policy required non-Mexicans seeking asylum to stay in Mexico while moving through their court proceedings in the United States.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing the majority opinion joined by Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, stated: "Congress conferred contiguous-territory return authority in expressly discretionary terms." Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote a concurring opinion, while Justices Samuel Alito and Amy Coney Barrett wrote dissenting opinions and were joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.

Tierney Sneed and Priscilla Alvarez, "Supreme Court Says Biden Can End Trump-era 'Remain in Mexico' Immigration Policy,", June 30, 2022

Oct. 24, 2022 - Record Number of Migrant Apprehensions at US Southern Border

During the 2022 fiscal year (Oct. 01, 2021 to Sep. 30, 2022), US Customs and Border Patrol apprehended a record 2.3 migrants at the southern US border, surpassing the 1.7 million apprehended in FY2021 by 37%. Almost 70% were adults on their own, almost 25% were families, and about 6% were unaccompanied children.

Juliana Kim, "The U.S. Set a New Record for Apprehensions at the Southern Border,", Oct. 24, 2022

US Customs and Border Patrol, "CBP Enforcement Statistics Fiscal Year 2022,", Oct 21, 2022

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