Immigration Law History | Immigration Lawyer | Immigration Attorney

The United States has a total estimated population of over 310,000,000 people.  In fact, the American population more than tripled during the 20th century, at a growth rate of 1.3 % each year, from 76 million in 1900, to 281

million in 2000, to 300 million in 2006.  This growth can be attributed, in part, to the number of immigrants that were welcomed to the country over the past several decades.  As the United States immigrant trends and demographics shifted with the times, so has the Federal Immigration Law.  Below is a short history of how the laws have changed over time, allowing for shifts in population like that in the U.S.  Immigration lawyers and USA immigration law firms are very well familiar with the both the Immigration history in the U.S. and the current state of immigration law.  Immigration lawyers are capable of analyzing your claim or application, and determining which Immigration visa or immigrant green card is appropriate for you.

Naturalization Act of 1790

Congress's first attempt to set immigration policy came in 1790 with the enactment of the Naturalization Act of 1790.  This Act limited naturalization to "free white persons" of "good moral character" and required the applicant to have lived in the country for two years prior to becoming naturalized.  In 1795 an amendment increased the residency requirement to five years.  The five-year requirement remains, to this day. 

14th Amendment

Upon ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, all children born within the United States received citizenship at birth.  In 1870 Congress broadened naturalization laws to allow African-Americans the right to become naturalized citizens.  Asian Americans, however, did not receive such a right for many years.  Xenophobia from an influx of Asians between 1850 and 1882 prompted Congress to pass the Chinese Exclusion Act, which restricted further Chinese immigration.

Emergency Immigration Act

In 1921 Congress passed the Emergency Immigration Act, creating national immigration quotas, which gave way to the Immigration Act of 1924, capping the number of permissible immigrants from each country in a manner proportional to the number already living within the United States.  The aggregate number from the eastern hemisphere could not eclipse 154,227 immigrants.  Franklin D. Roosevelt's Administration essentially closed to the country to immigration during the Great depression, drastically reducing the numbers per country that could enter the United States. 

Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952

Perhaps the greatest progression in the history of immigration law in the United States was the enactment of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952.  The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (INA), also known as the McCarran-Walter Act, eliminated all race-based quotas, replacing them with purely nationality-based quotas.  The INA continues to influence the field of American immigration law.  To enforce the quotas, the INA created the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).  The INS served as the federal agency that enforced these caps for remainder of the 20th century.

When Congress passed the INA, it essentially defined an "alien" as any person lacking citizenship or status as a national of the United States. Different categories of aliens include resident and nonresident, immigrant and nonimmigrant, and documented and undocumented ("illegal"). The terms "documented" and "undocumented" refer to whether an arriving alien has the proper records and identification for admission into the U.S.  Having the proper records and identification typically requires the alien to possess a valid, unexpired passport and either a visa, border crossing identification card, permanent resident card, or a reentry permit.  The INA expressly refuses stowaway aliens entry into the U.S.  The categories and definitions of aliens remains the same today, and often times require a USA immigration attorney or USA immigration law firm to explain which category one falls into.  United States Lawyers can answer ALL of your questions, quickly and easily.  For more information about which immigration category you fall into, or to schedule an appointment with an experienced immigration lawyer, please fill out the form listed on this web page.  Immigration lawyers and law firms are present at all hours and should contact you to assist with all of your immigration concerns that you may have.

Immigration Reform and Control Act

The need to curtail illegal immigration prompted Congress to enact the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986. The IRCA toughened criminal sanctions for employers who hired illegal aliens, denied illegal aliens federally funded welfare benefits, and legitimized some aliens through an amnesty program. The Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments of 1986 sought to limit the practice of marrying to obtain citizenship. The Immigration Act of 1990 thoroughly revamped the INA by equalizing the allocation of visas across foreign nations, eliminating archaic rules, and encouraging worldwide immigration.

Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act

The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) of 1996 revolutionized the process of alien entry into the United States.  The IIRIRA eliminated the term "entry," replacing it with "admission."  An application for admission occurs whenever an alien arrives in the U.S. regardless of whether the arrival occurs at a designated port-of-entry. Applicants at either designated ports or otherwise must submit to an inspection by U.S. customs, even if the applicant possesses an immigrant visa.  The IIRIRA also employs the term "arriving alien" to describe applicant aliens attempting to enter the U.S., regardless of whether they arrive at a designated port, a non-designated point on the border, or are located in U.S. waters and brought to shore.

The Refugee Act of 1980

The Refugee Act of 1980 defines the U.S. laws relating to refugee immigrants.  Under the Refugee Act, the term "refugee" refers to aliens with a fear of persecution upon returning to their homelands, stemming from their religion, race, nationality, membership in certain social groups, or political opinions.  Anyone who delivers a missing American POW or MIA soldier receives refugee status from the United States.

The United States, however, denies refugee status to any alien who actively persecuted individuals of a certain race, political opinion, religion, nationality, or members of a certain social group.   As a matter of public policy, the government also typically refuses refugee applicants previously convicted of murder.   For refugees who have relocated and  "firmly resettled" in another country, the United States will deny a request for refugee admission.  The government considers refugees "firmly resettled" if the refugees have received an offer of citizenship, permanent residency, or some other permanent status from a foreign country.  To determine whether you or a family member is eligible for refugee status, it is important to contact an experience U.S. immigration lawyer or U.S. immigration law firm for assistance with your claim.

Under international law, the Geneva Convention, or the laws of the United States, foreign citizens who have become disillusioned with their homeland cannot take temporary refuge within the United States.  The Refugee Act of 1980 specifically leaves out temporary refuge as a form of refugee status that the U.S. government will recognize.

Post-9/11 reform

On March 1, 2003, the Department of Homeland Security opened, replacing the INS.  The Bush Administration had designed the Department of Homeland Security to foster increased intelligence sharing and dialogue between agencies responsible for responding to domestic emergencies, such as natural disasters and domestic terrorism.  Within the Department, three different agencies - U.S. Customs and Border Enforcement (CBE), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) - now handle the duties formerly held by the INS.  Currently, the CBE handles the INS's border patrol duties, the USCIS handles the INS's naturalization, asylum, and permanent residence functions, and the ICE handles the INS's deportation, intelligence, and investigatory functions.

It is important to remember that Immigration laws are some of the most difficult and complex laws in U.S. law, and often require competent immigration attorneys or law firms to interpret.  If you need help determining whether your claim fits under any of these laws, an immigration attorneys can assist with not only immigration appeals, but also work permits, family visas, visitor visas, deportation hearings, asylum, removal hearings, and citizenship or naturalization.  Additionally, an Immigration lawyer or law firm firm could help with employment visas such as the EB-1 Visa, EB-2 Visa, EB-3 Visa, EB-4 Visa, EB-5 Visa or Student Visas and physician visas.

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Please fill out the questionnaire and an experienced Immigration lawyer will contact you regarding your particular immigration matter. There is no obligation created by your submission of information.  Immigration lawyers and law firms are present at all hours and will contact you to assist with any immigration concerns that you may have.