Immigration’s Lengthy Road in the United States

The United States’ first immigration and naturalization law passed on March 26, 1790. While many today criticize many state’s stringent immigration laws today, a look back over the past 220 years proves that the United States has had tough immigration policies since its inception.

Many past immigration laws have dealt with inclusivity and exclusions. In 1790, for example, only white males were allowed immigration rights, and African-American children born in the United States were only given citizenship after the Naturalization Act of 1870. However, individuals from China were  excluded from immigrating by the Chinese Exclusion Act, which banned all Chinese, no matter what their background or expertise, from entering the  the country. Initially created in 1882 set to exist for a trial 10-year period, the law was extended an additional 10 years by the Geary Act of 1892 and became permanent in 1902. The law was surprisingly not lifted until the 1943 Magnuson Act, when China became an ally during World War II.

Favoritism within the United States’ citizenship protocol did not legally end until 1965, although some new measures, such as the lifted restrictions on Brazil and China tourist visas, may still exude this partiality. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 was the first measure that gave immigrants from Asia and South America the same legal chance of obtaining citizenship as those of European descent, who were previously favored.

The U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement, previously known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service, has overseen the immigration system in the United States since 1933. According to the ICE, a new exhibit has officially been released that showcases the history of overseeing these immigration law changes, and how they have shaped the organization. Located in the ICE’s Washington, D.C., gallery, the exhibit provides another layer of details from the nation’s unique immigration procedures.