US Immigration Laws and their History


Life in the US is an ideal life for most people. But it is pretty challenging to get a green card unless your spouse is an inhabitant of the US. On account of the increasing violence and terrorism in the world, the US government is trying its best to protect its country. In an effort to do so, they have updated their immigration laws. They have grown to be stricter about VISA and immigration policies.

Do you fancy life in the US? Are you planning to migrate? Do you want to know more about the history of immigration laws to have a head start? Well, luckily you are in the right place. We will tell you details about the history of US immigration laws to help you understand US immigration policies in a better way.

Good news for International Travelers

If you want to migrate to the US, and wish to visit it for tourism and business, then the process will be easy for you. Tourism and business Visas can be obtained with little effort. Moreover, if you belong to one of those countries that are a part of the Visa Waiver program, then you need not worry at all. US governments allow the residents of those countries to visit the US without a VISA. The visit will be limited to the short-term stay of the visitor, i.e., a maximum of 90 days stay. All you have to do is to get your ESTA VISA Application. ESTA is an electronic system for the authorization of US travelers. Once you have submitted the ESTA application, you can check ESTA status, its validity, etc. online. Thus, for international travelers trip to the US is one VISA and ESTA away.

History of US immigration laws

Now that we have gone through the basics let us jump to the US immigration laws and their history without wasting time.

What do laws suggest about granting Citizenship to Americans?

In 1776, white people demanded citizenship right for themselves. They claimed that Europe is the parent county of America. Congress passed its first law about the citizenship issue in 1790. According to this law, white people that have been living in the US for two years can apply for citizenship. But maintaining good behavior is a must for getting citizenship. The same year first US census took place.

Dangerous and poor Citizens:

In order to avoid any violence, Immigration, and Alien sedition act was introduced in 1798. This act gave the right to the president to deport or imprison any non-citizen that is dangerous for the US. In the past, the US has remained famous for using laws to eliminate and deport poor and indigent migrants. Chinese exclusion act is an example of such exclusions.

Irish Immigrants

Three years after the civil war, peace was established between America and Britain. A significant wave of immigrants migrated to the US after that peace. After a few years, about 5 million German people migrated to the US. As a consequence of the increasing number of migrants, many important cities were at risk. Most migrants were sick, and some were suffering from contagious diseases. So, it was the need of the hour to take action. A manifest of the immigrants act was introduced in 1819. The primary purpose of this act was to regulate the transportations used by immigrants.

On account of the increasing number of German and Irish immigrants, an anti-immigration party came into being in 1849.

Deporting poor Chinese

The 1882 act was one of the biggest exclusion acts of the history of the US. A large number of people migrated to the US due to extra resources and better health conditions. The main target was Chinese laborers, or we can say, poor Chinese people. They claimed them to be needy and ungrateful and deported them.

Another important act was the act of 1891. It was a revolution in the immigration policy of the US. According to this act, criminals, sick or diseased people were permanently restricted to enter the US.

Restrictions on Asians

Two major acts were introduced in 1917 and 1921to restrict the Asian from entering in the US. The literacy Test Act demanded a literacy test for all immigrants to enter the US. Moreover, a Quota Act was introduced in 1921. Both these acts resulted in a decrease in the total number of migrations from Asian countries.

Illegal immigrants

More than 3 million migrants were living in the US in 1986. President Ronald Reagan signed a Simpson Mazzolli Act. This act granted amnesty to all the illegal migrants.


Since 1952, all the immigrations and citizenships are based upon the immigration and National action of 1952. The law has been updated and amended at several phases.

Recent Rules and acts:

Obama signed DACA in 2012, which prevented deporting students.

But as Donald Trump took oath in 2017, he banned VISAS and immigration from 6 major countries. Yemen, Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Chad Can’t get Visas or immigration permission due to increasing terrorism.




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