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of nationality and ethnic considerations, the Immigration and Nationality Act amendments of October 3, 1965 (P.L. 89-236; 79 Stat. 911) substituted a system based primarily on reunification of families and needed skills.
The circumstances which led to this major shift in policy in 1965 were a complex combination of changing public perceptions and values, politics, and legislative compromise. Public support for the repeal of the national origins quota system reflected changes in public attitudes toward race and national origins. It can be argued that the 1965 immigration legislation was as much a product of the mid-1960s and the heavily Democratic 89th Congress which also produced major civil rights legislation, as the 1952 Act had been a product of the Cold War period of the early 1950s.
The 1965 amendments replaced the national origins quota system as the primary control of Eastern Hemisphere immigration with an annual ceiling on Eastern Hemisphere immigration of 170,000 and a 20,000 per country limit. Within these restrictions, immigrant visas were distributed according to a seven-category preference system placing_priority, in order, on family reunification, attracting needed skills, and refugees. The 1965 law also provided that effective July 1, 1968, Western Hemisphere immigration would be limited by an annual ceiling of 120,000, without per-country limits or a preference system.
The Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments of 1976 (P.L. 94-571; 90 Stat. 2703) extended the 20,000 per-country limit and a slightly modified version of the seven-category preference system equally to the Western Hemisphere. The preference system and the per-country limits were applied to the two hemispheres under the separate ceilings of 170,000 for the Eastern Hemisphere, and 120,000 for the Western Hemisphere. Legislation enacted in 1978 (P.L. 95-412; 92 Stat. 907) combined the separate ceilings into a single worldwide ceiling of 290,000 with a single preference system. The Refugee Act of 1980 (P.L. 96-212; 94 Stat. 102) eliminated refugees as a category of the preference system, and set the worldwide ceiling of 270,000, exclusive of refugees.
The major source of immigration to the United States has shifted since 1965 from Europe to Latin America and Asia, reversing the trend of nearly two centuries. According to the 1988 Statistical Yearbook of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (p. xvii-xviii), Europe accounted for 50 percent of U.S. immigration during the decade fiscal years 1955-64, followed by North America (defined by the Immigration and Naturalization Service to include Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America) at 36 percent, and Asia at 8 percent. In fiscal year 1988, Asia was highest at 41 percent, followed by North America at 39 percent, and Europe at 10 percent. In order, the countries exceeding 20,000 immigrants in fiscal year 1988 were Mexico, the Philippines, Haiti, Korea, India, Mainland China, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, and Jamaica.
These figures reflect a shift in both accessibility and demand by the sending countries. For example, Asian immigration was severely limited prior to the 1965 amendments, and has subsequently been augmented by the large number of Indochinese refugees adjusting to immigrant status outside the numerical limits. On the other hand, Irish immigration fell from 6,307 in fiscal year 1964 to 1,839 in fiscal year 1986, with 734 entering under the preference system and the majority entering as the immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. Ireland had been heavily favored under the national origins quota system. It has been commonly assumed that many Irish would like to immigrate to the United States, but lacked the necessary family relationships or skills to qualify under the preference system prior to the 1990 amendments.
L. THE 1970s THROUGH 1990s: IMMIGRATION ISSUES, REVIEW, AND
The patterns of immigration and the policy considerations relating to it in the 1970s resembled in some respects those of the 1950s after the enactment of the Immigration and Nationality Act. In both decades, the entry of aliens outside the qualitative and quantitative restrictions of the basic law—both illegally as undocumented aliens, and legally as refugees—was increasingly the dominant pattern in immigration and the basis for the major issues confronting the Congress. Legislative response to the issue of refugees in 1980 and undocumented aliens in 1986 was followed in 1987 by a shift in congressional attention to legal immigration.
The 1981 report of the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy has contributed to the recent and ongoing congressional review of immigration issues. The 16-member Select Commission was created by legislation enacted in 1978 (P.L. 95-412; 92 Stat 907) to conduct a study and evaluation of immigration and refugee laws, policies, and procedures. Its basic conclusion was that controlled immigration had been and continued to be in the national interest, and this underlay many of its recommendations. The Commission's recommendations were summed up as follows by Chairman Theodore Hesburgh in his introduction:We recommend closing the back door to undocumented/illegal migration, opening the front door a little more to accommodate legal migration in the interests of this country, defining our immigration goals clearly and providing a structure to implement them effectively, and setting forth procedures which will lead to fair and efficient adjudication and administration of U.S. immigration laws. 17
1. REFUGEES AND THE REFUGEE ACT OF 1980
During the 5-year period, 1975–1980, refugees and refugee-related issues dominated congressional concern with immigration more than they had since the years following World War II. Beginning with the fall of Vietnam and Cambodia in April 1975, this period saw the admission of more than 400,000 Indochinese refugees, the enactment of major amendments to the Immigration and Nationality Act in the form of the Refugee Act of 1980, and the exodus from Mariel Harbor, Cuba to southern Florida.
The 1980 refugee legislation was enacted in part in response to Congress's increasing frustration with the difficulty of dealing with the ongoing large-scale Indochinese refugee flow under the existing ad hoc refugee admission and resettlement mechanisms. By the end of the 1970s, a consensus had been reached that a more coherent and equitable approach to refugee admission and resettlement was needed. The result was the amendments to the Immigration and Nationality Act contained in the Refugee Act of 1980, enacted on March 17, 1980 (P.L. 96-212; 94 Stat. 102).
The Refugee Act repealed the ideological and geographic limitations which had previously favored refugees fleeing communism or from countries in the Middle East and redefined “refugee” to conform with the definition used in the United Nations Protocol and Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. The term “refugee” is now defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act as a person who is unwilling or unable to return to his country of nationality or habitual residence because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. The 1980 amendments made provision for both a regular flow and the emergency admission of refugees, following legislatively prescribed consultation with the Congress. In addition, the law authorized Federal assistance for the resettlement of refugees.
Shortly after the enactment of the Refugee Act of 1980, large numbers of Cubans entered the United States through southern Florida, totaling an estimated 125,000, along with continuing smaller numbers of Haitians. The Carter Administration was unwilling to classify either group as refugees, and no action was taken on the special legislation sought by the Administration. Beginning in 1984, the Reagan Administration adjusted the majority of the Cubans to lawful permanent resident status under P.L. 89-732, 1966 legislation enacted in response to the Cuban refugee situation in the 1960s. However, the status of the Cuban/Haitian entrants was not resolved finally until enactment of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which included special legalization provisions.
2. ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION AND THE IMMIGRATION REFORM AND
CONTROL ACT OF 1986
Immigration legislation focusing on illegal immigration was considered and passed by the 99th Congress, and enacted as P.L. 99-603 (Act of November 6, 1986; 100 Stat. 3359), the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA). P.L. 99-603 consists primarily of amendments to the basic immigration law, the nigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended (8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq.).
Reform of the law relating to the control of illegal immigration had been under consideration for 15 years, since the early 1970s. The 1986 legislation marked the culmination of bipartisan efforts both by Congress and the executive branch under four Presidents. As an indication of the growing magnitude of the problem, the annual apprehension of undocumented aliens by the Department of Justice's Immigration and Naturalization Service increased from 505,949 in 1972, the first year legislation aimed at controlling illegal immigration received House action, to
17 Ibid., p. 3.
1,767,400 in 1986. Immigration and Naturalization Service apprehensions dropped to 1,190,488 in fiscal year 1987.
The prospect of employment at U.S. wages generally has been agreed to be the economic magnet that draws aliens here illegally. The principal legislative remedy proposed in the past and included in the new law is employer sanctions, or penalties for employers who knowingly hire aliens unauthorized to work in the United States. The other major provisions of the new law directly relate to employer sanctions. First, in an attempt to deal humanely with aliens who established roots here before the change in policy represented by the new Act, a legalization program was established that provides legal status for otherwise eligible aliens who had been here illegally since prior to 1982. Second, the legislation sought to respond to the apparent heavy dependence of seasonal agriculture on illegal workers by creating a 7-year special agricultural worker program, and by streamlining the previously existing “H-2” temporary worker program to expedite availability of alien workers and to provide statutory protections for U.S. and alien labor.
3. LEGAL IMMIGRATION AND THE IMMIGRATION ACT OF 1990
Following the enactment in 1986 of major legislation relating to illegal immigration, congressional legislative attention shifted to legal immigration, including the numerical limits on permanent immigration. This was an issue for a number of reasons. The numerical limits and preference system regulating the admission of legal immigrants originated in 1965, with some subsequent amendments. Since that time, and particularly in recent years, concern arose over the greater number of immigrants admitted on the basis of family reunification compared to the number of “independent" non-family immigrants, and over the limited number of visas available under the preference system to certain countries. There was also concern about the backlogs under the existing preference system and, by some, about the admission of immediate relatives of U.S. citizens outside the numerical limits. Major legislation addressing these concerns passed the Senate and was introduced in the House in the 100th Congress (1987-1988). However, only temporary legislation addressing limited concerns passed both, leaving further consideration of a full-scale revision of legal immigration to the 101st Congress.
Major omnibus immigration legislation, the Immigration Act of 1990, was signed into law as P.L. 101-649 by President Bush on November 29, 1990. The Act represented a major revision of the Immigration and Nationalicy Act, which remained the basic immigration law. A primary focus of P.L. 101-649 was the numerical limits and preference system regulating permanent legal immigration. Beyond legal immigration, the eight-title Act dealt with many other aspects of immigration law, ranging from nonimmigrants to criminal aliens to naturalization.
Major changes relating to legal immigration included an increase in total immigration under an overall flexible cap, an increase in annual employment-based immigration from 54,000 to 140,000, and a permanent provision for the admission of "diversity immigrants” from underrepresented countries. P.L. 101-649 provided for a permanent annual level of at least 675,000 immigrants beginning in fiscal year 1995, preceded by an annual level of approximately 700,000 during fiscal years 1992 through 1994. Refugees were the only major group of aliens not included. The Act established a three-track preference system for family-sponsored, employment-based, and diversity immigrants. Additionally, the Act significantly amended the work-related nonimmigrant categories for temporary admission.
P.L. 101-649 addressed a series of other issues pending before the Congress. It provided undocumented Salvadorans with temporary protected status for a limited period of time, and amended the Immigration and Nationality Act to authorize the Attorney General to grant temporary protected status to nationals of designated countries subject to armed conflict or natural disasters. It authorized a temporary stay of deportation and work authorization for legalized aliens' eligible immediate family members, and made 55,000 additional numbers available for them annually during fiscal years 1992–1994. In response to criticism of employer sanctions, it expanded the antidiscrimination provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act, and increased the penalties for unlawful discrimination. As part of a revision of all the grounds for exclusion and deportation, it significantly rewrote the political and ideological grounds which had been controversial since their enactment in 1952. M. SELECTED REFERENCES Bennett, Marion T. American immigration policies: a history. Washington, Public
Affairs Press, 1963. 362 p. Bernard, William S., ed. Immigration policy-a reappraisal. New York, Harper &
Brothers, 1950. 341 p. Divine, Robert A. American immigration policy, 1924-1952. New Haven, Yale Uni
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Scott, Franklin D. The peopling of America: perspectives on immigration. Washing
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1. TABLE 1.-IMMIGRATION BY REGION AND SELECTED COUNTRY OF LAST
RESIDENCE; FISCAL YEARS 1820-1989
20 371 968
Canada and Newfoundland 17 18
Other Central America.
Other South America.
169 8,497 6,761
91 (6) (6)
16 145 (7)
75 2,477 3,226 25,079 (9)
8 (12) (13) (14) (15) (16)
39 (12) (13) (14) (15) (16)
1 (12) (13) (14) (15) (16)
3 387 209
1 164 (12) (20) (20) (21) 164
11 (20) (20) (20)
(4) 3,749 76,358 951,667
9,231 10,789 20,931
(6) 1,164 1,055
457 9,298 25,011 423,974
5 41,538 41,397 (11)
43 (12) (13) (14) (15) (16)
15 74,720 59,309
(12) (20) (20)
449 1,224 (20) (20) (20) 1,224 (22) 210
11,564 2,277 4,817 3,834 (12) (20) (20) (21) 3,834
105 (20) 105 531 (20) (20) (20)
36 (12) (13) (14) (15) (16)
11 62,469 41,723
368 3,579 (20) (20) (20) 3,579 (22)
See footnotes at end of table.