One thing that I miss-quoted in my homily: the first substantial restrictions on immigration began in 1921, not in the 1960's as I stated originally. The history of how our country began to restrict immigration is an important history, and you can read more by clicking here to access the article "Why Don't They Come Here Legally?" - an article that can be found on the US Bishops' website. I've included an excerpt of the history below:
"Yet, until the 1870’s, the federal government did virtually nothing to restrict immigration to the United States. In most cases, immigrants who arrived to the United States in search of work or a new life simply settled in the country and became citizens after a period of time.vi In 1875, Congress passed the Page Law, restricting immigration of women engaged in polygamy and prostitution, with enforcement provisions particularly focused on Chinese women.vii Seven
years later, in 1882, Congress promulgated the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, restricting
immigration of Chinese laborers.viii Congress eventually expanded these restrictions on Chinese immigration to exclude Asian immigrants generally.ix However, immigration by those arriving from non‐Asian countries was not significantly restricted until the 1920’s, by which time many of our immigrant ancestors had already arrived.
Indeed, during that period immigration from various parts of the world to the United States was widespread; by 1870, forty percent of the residents of New York, Chicago, and other major
metropolitan areas were foreign born. x In 1921, beginning with the Emergency Quota Act, the
United States began to restrict immigration through the use of national origins quotas.xi The
quota system was restructured multiple times in subsequent years, leaving some regions of the
world at a disadvantage at certain points.xii In 1965, amendments to the Immigration and
Nationality Act of 1952 abolished the quota system, prioritizing instead family‐based immigration.xiii
Subsequent immigration laws have been increasingly restrictive. For instance, in 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) was passed to control and deter unlawful immigration to the United States, making it unlawful to knowingly hire unauthorized immigrants and increasing border enforcement.xiv Ten years later, the Illegal Immigration
Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) created penalties for those who had been “unlawfully present” in the country, establishing three and ten year bars to lawful
vi Kevin J. Fandl, Immigration Posses: U.S. Immigration Law and Local Enforcement Practices,
34 J. Legis. 18 (2008) (“The United States passed its first immigration law in 1790, which
formally moved the topic of immigration from state to federal control and which established a
uniform rule of naturalization by requiring residence for two years. This residence requirement
was expanded to five years in 1795, where it remains today. It was not until 1798 that an alien
registry was established and records of arriving aliens were kept. . . .not until 1862 was a
prohibition on a type of immigrant enacted. Thus, all non‐dangerous immigrants were allowed
entry into the United States and an opportunity to become citizens through the beginning of
the Civil War.”).
vii Kerry Abrams, Polygamy, Prostitution, and the Federalization of Immigration Law, 105
Colum. L. Rev. 641, 643 (April 2005).
viii Id. at 645.
ix Kerry Abrams, The Hidden Dimension of Nineteenth Century Immigration Law, 62 Vand. L.
Rev. 1353, 1354 (October 2009). See also Act of Feb. 5, 1917 (Immigration Act of 1917), ch. 29,
§ 2, 29 Stat. 874, 876 (repealed 1952) (restricting Asian immigration).
xi See Act of May 19, 1921 (Quota Act (Three Per Cent Act)), ch. 8, § 2, 42 Stat. 5, 5 (repealed
1952) (establishing the three percent immigration quota limit).
xii See, e.g., Act of May 26, 1924 (Immigration Act of 1924), ch. 190, § 11, 43 Stat. 153, 159
(repealed 1952) (reducing the quota to two percent).
xiii See Pub. L. No. 89‐236 , 79 Stat. 911 (Oct. 3, 1965).
xiv See Pub. L. No. 99‐603 (Act of 11/6/86).
xv See Immigration and Nationality Act § 212(a)(9)(B)(i)(I)‐(II).