Immigration Law Reform

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Immigration reform has been making the news for many years - since Arizona passed SB1070 and Alabama passed HB56. In an attempt to curtail enactment of these laws, the United States Department of Justice, United States Department of Homeland Security, United States Department of State, and United States Department of Education filed complaints against both states. Additionally, there are over “865 bills and resolutions relating to immigrants and refugees in 45 state legislatures and the District of Columbia during the first quarter of 2012” (2012 Immigration-Related Laws, 2012) with the exception five states who were not in session at the time of reporting.

Immigration laws in the United States started with the passage of the 1790 Naturalization Act, which limited entry into the United States to “free white persons of good character who resided in the United States for a period of two years” (as cited in Kunnan, 2009, p.38). However, a 1795 amendment would lengthen the time requirement to five years. While the Immigration Act of 1924 replaced race with nationality, limited new entrants to “150,000 persons, [and] established the concept of "ineligibility to citizenship," which applied to all Asians, justifying their exclusion from immigration, and excluded all non-white, and non-European” (as cited in Ngai, 1999, pp. 67-72).

Consequently, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 continued to restrict immigration, introduced an English language and history requirement, and created the Immigration and Naturalization Service. In addition, “allowed for the deportation of immigrants or naturalized citizens engaged in subversive activities; barred those suspected of subversive activities from entering the country; and restric...

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...ent undermine public safety? The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 641(1), 79-98. doi:10.1177/0002716211431818

Kunnan, A. J. (2009). Politics and legislation in citizenship testing in the United States. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 29, 37-48. doi:10.1017/S0267190509090047

Newton, L., & Adams, B. E. (2009). State immigration policies: Innovation, cooperation or conflict? Publius, 39(3), 408-431. doi:10.1093/publius/pjp005

Newton, L., & Adams, B. E. (2009). State immigration policies: Innovation, cooperation or conflict? Publius, 39(3), 408-431. doi:10.1093/publius/pjp005

Ngai, M. M. (1999). The architecture of race in American immigration law: A reexamination of the immigration act of 1924. The Journal of American History, 86(1), 67-92. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2567407

Plyler v. Doe 457 U.S. 202 (1982).
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