Immigration has been a relevant issue since the days of European exploration, and some of the reasons of migration today are still the same: opportunity, resources, and protection. If immigrants were not constantly settling in the U.S.A., our country would be a very different place with only Native American inhabitants. Every one of us is an immigrant, and it is important to know about the history of US immigration and our current laws to gain a better understanding. Let’s take a closer look:
- Before 1890 there was no national immigration system in the US.
- You did not need a passport to enter the country until 1918, and it was only used for identification purposes
- It was only in 1924 when the concept of “illegality” was created that entry without inspection was prohibited and deporting became permanent.
- European immigration was also confined by creating the quota system.
- Most citizens who lineage whose immigration stories began many years before Ellis Island came before there was a process and before illegality existed.
- The first Mexicans in the US did not have to cross a border as before 1924, the border was very lowly regulated and migration flowed openly.
- Mexican migration was only restricted in 1965, but since Mexico is the the means of entry for many illegals, this law transformed the nature of being undocumented.
- In the years before 1986, a 1952 immigration law known as the McCarran-Walter Act made it illegal to “conceal” or “harbor” a person who was undocumented, but not to give them a job.
- Operation Wetback occurred in 1954 and was the largest-scaled round-up of Mexicans and Mexican Americans as over a million were deported.
- Undocumented immigrants are usually the ones doing the cleanup work after a disaster like Hurricane Katrina. Some 50,000 undocumented Hispanics moved into the Gulf Coast area after Katrina.
Aaditi is 16 years old and a rising senior in high school. Her favorite book is the Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King. Her idea of success is being happy to wake up everyday. Aaditi steps up for human rights.