The History of US Immigration

»Posted by on May 21, 2016 in History | 0 comments

Since the 18th and 19th century, the United States has been encouraging free and open immigration. Relocation to the United States traces its origin to 12,000 years ago when indigenous people crossed ice bridges connecting Asia to North America. It was the French and the Spaniards who were the first to establish settlements before the English and the Dutch. Before the American Revolution, the United States was already a kaleidoscope of languages and ethnicities.

The immigration system in the United States is not always easy to understand or navigate. The immigration process is supported by different laws that governs immigration matters. In this article, we will look at the different laws through the years.

The Naturalization Act of 1790

A year after President Washington was inaugurated in 1790, the first attempts to take control of immigration was set in motion with the enactment of the Naturalization Act of 1790. The first set of naturalized citizens were free white persons of good moral character residing in the United States for two years. This excludes the indigenous people, free African Americans, indentured servants and slaves. It was amended in 1795 and extended the minimum residency requirement to 5 years.

The Naturalization Act of 1798

This law further expanded the residency requirement for American citizenship from 5 to 14 years. However, the law was designed for suppressing voters who disagreed with the Federalist party since majority of the immigrants supported Democratic-Republican Thomas Jefferson.

Alien Friends Act and Sedition Act

The former gives the President the authority to imprison or deport aliens considered as a “risk to the peace and safety of the United States.” The latter, on the other hand, puts restrictions on critics of the Federal government. The two laws were abolished in 1801.

The Alien Enemies Act

Under this bill, the President was given the authority to detain or deport male citizens of a hostile nation who are 14 years and above during war times. A modified version of this law is still in place today.

Anti-Coolie Act

The bill imposed a monthly tax on working Chinese immigrants. The law was enacted in order to soothe the increasing tension between Chine

Naturalization Act of 1870

The Naturalization Act of 1870 provided citizenship to both whites and African-Americans. The bil, however, excluded Asians.

Chinese Exclusion Act

Enaced in 1882, this law prohibited Chinese citizens from immigrating to the US. Although it was designed to last for a decade, it was extended in 1892 and was made permanent in 1902 until its abolition in 1943.

Anarchist Exclusion Act

Also known as the Immigration Act of 1903, this law barred immigrant anarchists, beggars, importerrs of prostitutes, and epileptics from immigrating to the United States.

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