Immigration Policy

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Immigration Policy

Immigration Policy of United States

Table of Contents


The Four Waves of Immigration3

Past Immigration Policy4

The Current Immigration System5

Nonimmigrant System6

Permanent Immigration6

Humanitarian Immigration7

Unauthorized Immigration7



The movement of individuals who are citizens of one country to residency within some other country is known as Immigration. The array of response from host countries can vary from a chauvinistic rejection to accept immigrants (e.g., Japan and China) to being a country that makes immigrants part of its national identity (e.g., Canada, the United States). Immigration on the whole has performed a significant part in molding the culture and population of the United States ever since its foundation. The United States has gone through four substantial immigration waves starting from the first influx of Europeans. This essay studies the immigration history and looks into the past as well as current policies administrating the influx of individuals from different nations.

The Four Waves of Immigration

The foremost immigration wave which began in the 17th century and continued till the next century consisted of the pioneers of the U.S. colonies. For the most part of these settlers were British, Germans, Scots and individuals from France, Spain, and the Netherlands. Servants and slaves from African countries during this period were brought forcefully to this country. The next sway initiated in the year 1820 and comprised mostly of Irish, British and German immigrants who caused the growth in the westward areas of the country. From about 1880 till 1914 the third wave integrated people first from Western and Northern Europe, and later on from Eastern and Southern Europe. Chinese laborers were recruited alongside these European starting from late 1840 till the middle of 1880 for the purpose building the railroads of the West and to work in California and Hawaii and. After the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, Filipino and Japanese people seized their position until the 1907 “Gentlemen's Agreement” between Japan and the United States put an end to relocation from Japan (Reed, 1994).

The country experienced a fourth wave of immigration in the 1990's. Approximately 14 million, legal and illegal, immigrants, more than in any preceding decade, entered the United States during this tenure. The most recent immigrants, unlike previous influxes, have stormed in from Asia, predominantly India, China and the Philippines.

Past Immigration Policy

The immigration policy of United States has gone through numerous phases. Immigration during the first hundred years was fairly unhindered, and both the private groups and the government vigorously employed new immigrants. Some partial restrictions to the entrance were endorsed after the Civil War which firstly blocked prostitutes and convicts and afterwards “mental defectives” (Borjas, 1999).

In 1917, the United States government set up an admissions test asking immigrants above the age bracket of 16 in order to verify literacy in a minimum of one language. Moreover, The Immigration Act constituted in 1924 took it to another level by further limiting entrance by setting up a quota system based on national origins. This system put restrictions on immigration from any particular country on the basis of the ...
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