USA Immigration from the Beginning Part 6: The Period 1971 – 2014

Problems began to be reported to the community board members from visitors of the amusement park. The most frequent complaints included overcrowding, high prices for food and drinks, and overall uncleanliness. Disturbances were being routinely reported overnight as visitors began to hang around the park throughout the night, resulting in vandalism and theft.

During the latest community meeting, the park president informed its members that those who operate the rides would continue to receive free passes. It was conceivable that they would refuse to work if they didn’t receive the free arm bands. However, the number of visitors with free passes had increased so much that regular paying visitors decreased in volume and the park began losing money. In fact, there were two rival inner-city gangs that had just moved into the community and had begun to harass visitors at the park. The gangs had begun tagging the amusement park buildings during the overnight hours and were somehow giving away confiscated free arm bands.

To cover for the loss of revenue, prices nearly doubled for food and drinks. Prices had risen so high that visitors were bringing their own food and drinks into the park, including alcohol which had never happened before. The park president continued to oppose building a fence around the park because it would be viewed as an obstruction to those who often frequent the area. Instead, he wanted an open park that provided a more welcome appearance. One of the leading community members led an initiative to force the park president from his position. Unfortunately, she learned that many of the amusement park workers had now moved into the community. There were now nearly as many amusement park workers living in the community as were its original citizens. It would be highly unlikely that they would vote to remove the park president from office since they were benefiting from the free arm bands.

The original community members were extremely disappointed at what had become of their small park. It now seemed that the original peaceful park had grown so fast that it was doomed for failure in the very near future!

Immigration into the United States continued to increase in the 1970s and benefits extended to its citizens continued to be multiplied. The hourly minimum wage increased from $1.60 to $2.00 (1974) to $2.10 (1975) to $2.30 (1976). In November, 1977, Public Law 95-151 the US Federal Minimum Wage was set at $2.65 effective January 1, 1978 and established minimum hourly wage in 1979 ($2.90) and 1980 ($3.10). These sudden increases in minimum wage placed incredible strain upon the economy. Immigration during the 1970s grew to 4,493,314, an increase of over 30% from the previous decade. Immigration increased the most from Asian nations (1.4 million). The Philippines, Koreas, India, and Hong Kong had the largest number of Asian immigrants. Mexico continued to provide the largest number of immigrants into the U.S. at over 600,000, up 40% from the previous decade.

Illegal crossings over the American-Mexican border included more than people. It also included the illegal transport of humans, drugs, and arms. On June 30, 1975, the Supreme Court ruled on United States v. Brignoni-Ponce that border patrol officers cannot stop a vehicle near the border based solely upon that vehicle’s occupants appearing to be of Mexican descent – racial profiling. However, in July 6, 1976, the Supreme Court decided on United States v. Martinez-Fuerte that established permanent or fixed checkpoints on highways to allow for brief questioning of the vehicle’s occupants do not violate the Fourth Amendment. These checkpoints were used to locate illegal immigrants traveling into the United States from Mexico.

On October 20, 1976, Immigration and Nationality Act Amendment allowed a quota of up to 20,000 immigrants per nation. In this Act, a priority of those to receive visas was established. It maintained the limitations on the number of visas issued to immigrants of the Eastern Hemisphere to 170,000 and the Western Hemisphere to 120,000 annually. Based upon the Bracero Agreement between Mexico and the U.S., migrants would be allowed to cross the border and work for employers in need of workers as long as the migrants did not displace American workers. In December, 1976, the Supreme Court rules on De Canas v. Baca that it was not unconstitutional for the state of California to prohibit “an employer from knowingly employing an alien who is not entitled to lawful residence in the United States if such employment would have an adverse effect on lawful resident workers.”

A new Act was passed on March 17, 1980, that would cause future immigration issues. The Refugee Act established a uniform procedure to provide a response to refugees who sought asylum, assistance, and resettlement opportunities. The Act also reduced the world-wide quota of foreign-born immigrants into the U.S. at 270,000. However, the Act allowed the admittance of up to 50,000 refugees in 1980, 1981, and 1982. This immediately resulted in the Mariel Boatlift Crisis. From April through September, the first Cubans sailing to the United States as part of the massive Mariel boatlift reached Florida. Over 5,000 vessels were involved in transporting over 100,000 Cubans onto American soil.

Guaranteed income is one government directive that drew immigrants to the United States. In 1981, President Reagan signed Executive Order 12288 terminated these wage and price controls of the federal government, allowing the market to establish hourly minimum wage.

During the 1980s, immigration increased dramatically to 7,338,062 after the passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act, in 1986, which addressed separate immigration issues broken down into seven titles: Control of Illegal Immigration, Legalization, Reform of Legal Immigration, Reports to Congress, State Assistance for Incarceration Costs of Illegal Aliens and Certain Cuban Nationals, Commission for the Study of International Migration and Cooperative Economic Development, and Federal Responsibility for Deportable and Excludable Aliens Convicted of Crimes. This 86-page document made it a crime for employers “to hire or to recruit or refer (unauthorized aliens) for a fee.” In addition, the Act prohibited continuing employment of unauthorized aliens. A list of documents establishing both employment authorization and identity include a U.S. passport, certificate of U.S. citizenship, certificate of naturalization, unexpired foreign passport, or resident alien card. Documentation that proved evidence of employment authorization included a social security account number card, U.S. birth certificate, or other suitable documentation as acceptable by the Attorney General. Documents establishing the identity of an individual include a driver’s license or an identification document as issued by the state of residence.

To increase the incentive to cross into the U.S. illegally, on June 15, 1982, the Supreme Court ruled in Plyler v. Doe that a state could not deny funding for education to illegal immigrant children. The US Supreme Court also ruled that a school district could not charge illegal immigrants an annual $1,000 tuition fee to compensate for lost state funding. In 1982, the Mexican oil industry collapsed and the peso lost 30% in value. The crisis in Mexico was so great that a sudden stream of illegal immigrants crossed into Texas in March, 1983.

In 1987, the US federal government began a year-long amnesty program, offering citizenship to illegal immigrants who met certain conditions. A NY Times article provided a question and answer approach to what an illegal alien would be required in order to become a U.S. citizen.

The 1980s also had several horrifying incidents that involved illegal immigrant activity. A common mode of crossing was via travel within locked boxcars in temperatures in excess of 100 degrees. In July, 1987, two incidents resulted in death experiences.

In 1988, two additional acts were passed: The Civil Rights Restoration Act, which restored the jurisdiction over Title IX issues in athletic programs to the Office for Civil Rights, and the Civil Liberties Act, a measure providing $20,000 payments to Japanese-Americans interned by the US government during World War II.

On November 29, Immigration Act of 1990 listed the most detailed immigration act to date and increased immigration levels up to 700,000 annually. The Act favored immigrants with family members that were already working in the U.S. Additional job-related and temporary work visas were authorized. Three categories of aliens seeking visas included priority workers, advanced professional and those of exceptional ability, and skilled workers. Those seeking visas must be employable in fields that have a shortage of U.S. qualified workers. Another new addition to immigration was the introduction of the Diversity Visa Lottery which was applicable to those countries with low admission rates in the past recorded five years. In addition, funding was to be provided for an additional 1,000 border patrol personnel.

In the 1990s, immigration continued to increase to 9,095,417. Mexico led the way with over 2.7 million immigrants into the U.S., nearly double from the previous decade. Other large inflows included Central America (600, 000), Russia (430,000), India (350,000), and China (350,000) . The hourly minimum wage was increased to $4.25 (1991) to $4.75 (1996) to $5.15 (1997). While the national deficit hit $1 trillion in 1981, it hit the next milestones at a greater frequency: $2 trillion in 1986, $3 trillion in 1990, $4 trillion in 1992, and $5 trillion in 1995. The deficit did not reach $6 trillion until 2002.

A new approach to citizenship was granted by the Armed Forces Immigration Adjustment Act enacted special immigrant status for aliens who have served honorably in the Armed Forces of the United States for as least 12 years. Signed on October 1, 1991, this Act enabled special immigrant status for aliens who have served honorably in the Armed Forces of the Unites States for as lease 12 years. On May 23, 1992, President Bush  issued Executive Order 12807 authorizing the repatriation of Haitian refugees interdicted by the Coast Guard. Although challenged, the Supreme Court permitted the Bush administration to continue returning Haitians intercepted at sea to their Caribbean homeland.

In 1994, many states that had been flooded with illegal immigrants demanded financial assistance from the federal government. In response, President Clinton declared that the nation’s three-decade open-door policy for Cuban refugees would end. On May 9, 1995, the United States returned 13 Cuban boat people to their homeland, the first to be sent back under a new policy bitterly protested by Cuban-Americans.

In September, 1994, an agreement was made that would allow up to 20,000 Cuban immigrants per year in return for Cuba’s promise to halt the flight of refugees. In an effort of its own, California enacted Proposition 187 which affected any rights that illegal immigrants may have. A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction blocking almost all of Proposition 187’s bans.

In August, 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act reshaped and addressed the funding of temporary assistance for needy families, supplemental security income, child support, restricting welfare and public benefits for aliens, child care, child nutrition, and food stamps and commodity distribution. The purpose of the Act was to encourage recipients of welfare to return to work and become more responsible for well-being. This continued the attraction of immigrants to illegally cross the border into the U.S. Among the many sting operations, Operation Casa Blanca resulted in the indictment of 3 Mexican banks and 107 people on charges of laundering millions of dollars for drug-smuggling cartels.

On September 30, 1996, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act was passed. It was a comprehensive act that targeted improvement to border control, facilitation of legal entry, and interior enforcement; enhanced enforcement and penalties against alien smuggling and document fraud; inspection, apprehension, detention, adjudication, and removal of inadmissible and deportable aliens; enforcement of restrictions against employment; and restrictions on benefits for aliens. The Act stated that aliens that were unlawfully present in the United States for between 180 and 365 days must be deported and remain outside the U.S. for ten years unless they obtain a waiver. At this time, there were fewer than 6,000 U.S. Border Patrol officers. Unfortunately, the continued economic chaos and unemployment in Mexico continued the flow of immigrants across the border.

The 1990s closed with several Supreme Court decisions and enacted laws that affected immigration. López v. Gonzales & Toledo-Flores v. U.S. stated that conduct that is a misdemeanor under the federal Controlled Substances Act was an aggravated felony resulting in the eligibility for deportation. Saenz v. Roe stated that California cannot pay lower welfare benefits to new residents as proposed in a 1992 state law. The Supreme Court banned states from paying lower welfare benefits to newcomers than to longtime residents. Signed in December, 2000, the Child Citizenship Act allowed foreign-born and adopted children of a U.S. citizen parent as long as the child was under 18 years of age, the child was residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the citizen parent pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence, the child was a lawful permanent resident, and an adopted child met the requirements applicable to adopted children under immigration law. Also signed in December 2000, Legal Immigration Family Equity (LIFE) Act (Title XI of H.R. 5548, page 225) and LIFE Act Amendments Family Unity Provisions established the “V” non-immigrant status for spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents waiting more than three years for an immigrant visa. Also, the “K” non-immigrant status will be available to spouses of U.S. citizens and minor children living in foreign locations. The Amendment is found on page 327 and specified eligibility requirements for benefit provisions of spouses and unmarried children under the LIFE Act.

During the 2000s, immigration increased to 10,501,053 led by Mexico (1.7 million), Caribbean nations (1.0 million), China (591,000), Central America (591,000), and India (590,000). The federal deficit hit new highs of $6 trillion (2002), $7 trillion (2004), $8 trillion (2005), $9 trillion (2009=7), $10 trillion (2008), $12 trillion (2009), and $13 trillion (2010). The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 raised the minimum hourly wage to $5.85 (2007) to $6.55 (2008) to $7.25 (2009).

The previous immigration laws stated that April 30, 2001, was the deadline to apply for residency status without leaving the country. Therefore, on September 6, the Extension Act of 2001 extended the deadline for immigration applications to be filed until April 30, 2002. Only five days later, four planes would be used as weapons against the United States. As a result of this atrocity, President Bush signed a sweeping anti-terrorism bill into law. It gave police and intelligence agencies vast new powers to fight terrorism. The USA Patriot Act authorized the Attorney General to waive any employment cap on personnel to protect the Northern U.S. border, added sub-clauses that included terrorist activity or organization, stated mandatory detention of suspected terrorists, increased scrutiny of passport and visa clearance, increased monitoring of the foreign student program, and establishing humanitarian relief for certain surviving spouses and children. The USA Patriot Act was extended on March 9, 2006 and on February 27, 2011.

On March 9 , 2002, the Job Creation and Workers Assistance Act of 2002 extended unemployment benefits through May 31, 2003.The Act cut taxes and extended unemployment benefits as the 26 weeks of unemployment benefits were set to expire after the September 11 attacks. On December 28, 2002, unemployment benefits ended for nearly 800,000 U.S. citizens.

With the signing of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, the Homeland Security Department was formed and absorbed the US Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Illegal immigration continued but not without catastrophic results. In May, 2003, in Texas, Victoria County Sheriff’s deputies found 17 people dead in and around a tractor-trailer rig at a south Texas truck stop. The victims were illegal immigrants. In December, 2004, a boat carrying at least 91 Dominican migrants tried to reach Puerto Rico illegally capsized, killing eight people. In May of 2005, in Arizona, 12 illegal immigrants were reported dead while crossing the border under triple digit heat. In August, 2008, an SUV packed with suspected illegal immigrants flipped over southeast of Phoenix killing at least 9 people. There were 19 people in the vehicle. In June, 2009, an SUV packed with at least 27 people crashed just before midnight near Sosoita, Arizona, killing 10 illegal immigrants.

Many stings were enacted to catch illegal immigrants. In October, 2003, 23 Federal immigration agents arrested 250 illegal workers at 60 Wal-Mart stores in 21 states.  During a three-week period in mid-2006, federal agents had captured 2,179 illegal immigrants across the country under “Operation Return to Sender.” In May, 2008, US immigration agents arrested 270 illegal immigrants at Agriprocessors Inc, in Postville, Iowa.

But, illegal immigration didn’t only occur above the ground. On January 26, 2006, a large tunnel that began near Tijuana’s airport and ended 2,400 feet away in a warehouse on the US side of the border. In April, 2006, Seattle customs authorities arrested 18 men and 4 women who had arrived from China in a 40-foot cargo container. In November of 2010, US authorities located a 2,200-foot tunnel that was used to smuggle drugs between Tijuana, Mexico and San Diego.

Of course, additional laws were passed that continued to draw illegal immigrants into the United States. In December, 2003, the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act (also called the Medicare Modernization Act or MMA). It was the biggest expansion of Medicare since its creation in 1965. The $400 billion Medicare overhaul bill included a provision to put away pre-tax money into interest bearing accounts to save for medical expenses. In April, 2005, President Bush endorsed changes to Social Security that would cut benefits for future middle-class and wealthy retirees, while raising retirement checks for the poor.

And, there were states that attempted to protect their borders since the federal government was doing such a poor job. In November, 2004, Arizona voters passed Prop. 200 (Arizona Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act) aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration. It required proof of citizenship before receipt of public benefits or voting. In July of 2010, The Obama Administration sued Arizona for performing a federal government responsibility. On December 16, 2005, the Border Protection, Anti-terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 was acted to stem the tide of illegal immigration by taking steps to tighten border controls and stop unlawful immigrants from getting jobs. But lawmakers left for next year the tougher issue of what to do with the 11 million undocumented people already in the country. In 2005, Indiana passed legislation requiring voters to provide a government issued photo ID. In 2008, the US Supreme Court upheld the law. In 2006, Georgia’s Governor Sonny Perdue signed a sweeping immigration bill that supporters and critics say gives the state some of the toughest measures against illegal immigrants in the nation.

What appeared to be what the nation had been clamoring for was passed into law on October 26, 2006. the Secure Fence Act of 2006 authorized 700 miles of new fencing along the U.S. – Mexico border. On June 28, 2007, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 failed to pass the U.S. Senate. The Act would have legalized over 12 million illegal amnesty while requiring the border to be fortified.

In 2009, Barrack Obama took office in the White House and immediate changes began. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 required equal pay for women. The Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 extended health care coverage to children of poor families. The Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) would help up to 9 million borrowers stay in their homes through refinanced mortgages or loans that are modified to lower monthly payments. The Cash for Clunkers Program provided the opportunity for Americans to purchase newer and more efficient vehicles. The Affordable Care Act guaranteed coverage for 32 million uninsured Americans. In 2010, President Obama signed the Home Affordable Mortgage Program. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 paved the way for the newest version of Food Stamps called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The Tax Relief Unemployment Insurance Act of 2010 extended benefits for the unemployed.

And into the 2010s…and nothing has changed. The national had reached $14 trillion (January 15, 2011), $15 trillion (November 15, 2011), $16 trillion (September 3, 2012), and $17 trillion (October 17, 2013). Additional benefits continue to be signed into law that attract immigrants across the U.S. border without the enforcement required to keep them out.

The freedoms of legal U.S. citizens were being taken away piece by piece. The Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration were instructed to perform full-body scans for all citizens rather than focusing upon those individuals who likely cause the most harm. On January 24, 2011, the former governor of Minnesota chose to sue DHS and TSA but was unsuccessful. States, like Florida, began to seek legal action against the Affordable Care Act. Additional immigration laws were passed by states, like Georgia, that invited threats from the federal government. Courts were ruling in opposition to the voters of several states to enact same-sex marriages. To protect the validity of elections, states have begun passing ID laws that require proper identification before casting a vote. This too is being challenged by the federal government

On June 15, 2012, President Obama announced that the federal government will stop deporting illegal immigrants under age 30 who arrived in the U.S. before age 16. In some states, like Colorado and Illinois, illegal immigrants are now granted driver’s licenses. States have even begun offering in-state tuition to illegal immigrants at the expense of taxpayers.

In 2014, a major crisis is underway. Although many human trafficking laws have been signed into law, few are being enforced. Illegal immigrants are regularly flowing into Texas, Arizona, California, and New Mexico through Central America and Mexico. There are also reports that terrorists have crossed the border undetected. Immigration is not cheap to the tax paying citizens. One of the purposes of our government is to protect its citizens and our borders must be secured for this to happen. At this point, our government is failing its citizens.

Article by John Coder

Posted August 25, 2014

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