Exploring the Complexity of the United States Immigration History

Woman Working In US Embassy

Immigration rules in the US have a history of change and complexity. The nation was founded on the values of freedom, mobility, and opportunity, which were balanced by an open yet organized legal system. This delicate balance evolved over the centuries, and changes were made to meet the requirements of a changing country and its people.
The first immigration laws restricted admittance to “free white persons” and established citizenship rules. During the twentieth century, national origin quotas were introduced, which helped stem a massive influx of European immigration. The Immigration Act of 1965 abolished these national origin restrictions and provided a new framework for who might settle in the United States. Its framework featured provisions for family reunification as well as pathways for refugees seeking asylum.
Concerns over illegal immigration have led to increased border security and enforcement, and today’s immigration system is shaped by past policy decisions and current actions.