USA: Immigration from the Beginning

Part 1: The Colonial Period

Ships at bayOne day two farmers made the decision to donate a small portion of their farmland to their community and build a small neighborhood park. Many families and children in particularly kept an eye on it during its construction. There was a lot of preparation that went into building a neighborhood park. Architects needed to design the park, engineers developed the park, merchants supplied the equipment, and the neighborhood community paid the bills for the park.

The children didn’t care how the park came to be; instead, they just couldn’t wait for it to open. For months, they have watched the cement trucks provide cement for the foundation of two slides, a jungle gym, and one pair swing sets. Although the size of the park was not significant, when the park finally opened, children from the local and nearby neighborhoods rushed to enjoy the new park!

Similarly, the foundation of the United States of America was first laid even before the country began to take form. Let’s go back to the year 1607 and the first English settlement in Jamestown in what would eventually become Virginia. Imagine the excitement and nervousness of those original pioneers and settlers after crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Several years later in 1620, the Pilgrims completed their journey from England, landed on Plymouth Rock, and established the Plymouth Bay Colony in what would become Massachusetts. The Pilgrims were attempting to escape persecution in England because they didn’t agree with the Church of England. The immigration from England to North America had begun!

Word began to spread back to Europe that the land was fertile and seemingly endless. Soon, immigrants began to come to America by the shipload because it offered a fresh start and new opportunities of success. Many of these early immigrants were indentured servants, needing to pay off debt while they worked the new land. Once their servitude was complete, they were debt free and ready to start a new life. By the year 1700, several English colonies had been formed totaling over 250,000 residents. Virginia had the largest population of 58,600 followed by Massachusetts Bay with 55,900.

From 1754 – 1763, the French and Indian War was fought between the English Colonies and the French with the help of the Native American Indians in an effort to rule much of North America. The English and French had brought their personal European battle upon another continent. They really didn’t like each other. Once this incredibly bloody war was concluded and won by the British, the Colonies were stuck with the bill. The Stamp Tax, Tea Tax, and a large multitude of other sorts of taxes were charged to the colonists which resulted in high tensions between the colonists and the British.

Meanwhile, with the addition of the Quakers, Scottish, Germans, Swedish, Dutch, and even more English, by 1770 the population of the thirteen English colonies was over 2.0 million! The immigrants continued to land onto the coastal shores of North America. Unfortunately, the slave trade out of Africa began to flourish for benefit of the southern colonies.

The Tea Party, the invasion by the British into Massachusetts, and the march to confiscate guns and ammunition secretly stored in Lexington and Concord led ultimately to the Shot Heard Around the World. The Revolutionary War had begun!

On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed by 56 brave colonists who risked their lives and immediately went into hiding for fear of being tarred and feathered. A new problem arose: how would a new nation survive when a large number of colonists within the cities supported the English King George.

There were two sides actively involved within each colony: the Tories and the Rebels. The Tories believed in continued faithful support of the king even though the colonists had very little voice in Parliament in England. In contrast, the Rebels were in open retaliation against the king and wanted a smaller, separate government with fewer taxes and a stronger voice in government.

On April 11, 1783, the British surrendered to the Continental Army at Yorktown, Virginia and a new nation was born. In 1788, the Constitution of the United States of America was officially ratified after the ninth state, New Hampshire, voiced its approval.

Just like the new park that was ready to be stormed by children from neighborhoods miles around, a new nation was born. A nation born upon a continent that continued to accept immigrants primarily from Europe and slaves from Africa and the Caribbean. A new nation with currency worth little value. How could this nation survive the massive population growth due to immigration while maintaining order between the Tories and the Rebels?

To be continued in part 2…

Article by John Coder

Posted July 14, 2014

Part 2: The Period 1790 – 1820

Two farmers in a small community donated a portion of their land toward a park for their small community. A few years later a third farmer chose to donate a much larger portion of his farmland, virtually doubling the size of the park. Two years later, a fourth farmer donated a small portion of his farmland but also included a small lake for the use of the community park.

These donations amazed the community! Due to the immediate growth of the park, the community was now required to select a community park president. Once a president was chosen, a collection of staff members was selected. Under the direction of the park president, the staff was better suited to determine how to proceed with maintaining the park as well as coordinating plans for future park purchases. The number of opportunities for what could be held upon the park land appeared to be endless.

After the American Revolutionary War was won by the American colonies, a new nation was born. However, this new nation would be formed based upon the U.S. Constitution which legally took affect on March 4, 1789. Within this legal document, rules identified the branches of government and what type of power each branch could hold. In addition, under Article I, Section 8 is the line:

“To establish an uniform Rule of naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States.

During the first State of the Union Address on January 8, 1790, George Washington stated: “Various considerations also render it expedient, that the terms on which foreignors may be admitted to the rights of Citizens, should be speedily ascertained by a uniform rule of naturalization.”

Later that same year, Congress pass the first Naturalization Act. Unfortunately, only Whites may receive citizenship. Blacks were not considered free on this continent. In summary, according to Shelby Englund,

“This article of legislation allowed an individual to apply for citizenship if they were a free white person, being of good character, and living in the United States for two years. Upon receiving the courts approval they took an oath of allegiance which was recorded. The individual’s citizenship was also extended to any children under the age of 21, regardless of their birthplace. If the applicant had never been a U.S. resident the application was disregarded.”

During the next several years, the amount of immigration was extremely limited. Based upon the numbers provided by The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc., there were on average 6,000 immigrants per year from 1790 – 1820. However, as the U.S. continued to grow in size in both population and land, there was mounting pressure placed upon the local Native Indian tribes. George Washington made every attempt to extend peace between neighbors. Unfortunately, some tribes did not understand peace as it was written upon a piece of paper. Some tribes were stirred into rebellion against the western edges of the states by England and France. But, there were a few tribes willing to live in harmony with the newly established government.

Immigration also was slow at the beginning as war was rekindled upon the European continent. In 1792, France declared war on Austria, Prussia, and Sardinia. The next year, France declared war on England and the Netherlands. France and England, the greatest sea powers of the time, created great risk of any immigrants willing to sail from Europe to the U.S.

March 22, 1794, Congress passed laws that prohibited slave trade with foreign nations. In addition, Congress banned the U.S. from sending slaves to other nations as well as accepting them. This was the first step toward eliminating the use of slaves in the U.S.

The next year while Napoleon Bonaparte became the French army’s commander, treaties were put in place between the U.S. and the tribes in the Ohio Territory and the Creek and Cherokee tribes near the state of Georgia. In order to maintain this peace, force was necessary on the western frontiers.

In 1795, a new Naturalization Act of 1795 was passed into law and became more stringent than the previous law. Unfortunately, the father of a child must have been a U.S. citizen not necessarily the mother. And, yes, Blacks were still not mentioned since they were not free. In summary, according to Shelby Englund,

“Any free white person could recieve citizenship providing they had renounced their allegiance to their previous state/sovereignty by name, lived in the United States for five years at least, behave as a man of good moral character, and renounced any title they possessed in the previous states. Once the applicant had been approved and recorded by the court clerk, all related children would receive citizenship whether they had been born in or outside the U.S. providing their father had at some point, resided in the U.S., and never been legally convicted of joining the army of Great Britain.”

During the latter part of the 1700s, although England had lost the war and reluctantly acknowledged the existence of the United States of America, its large fleet of ships continued to have a strong presence in the major harbors on the east coast. Additionally, the British vessels were given the authority to board and seize any neutral ships, especially if they were American. At the time, the U.S. did not have the strength to remove the British vessels from their naval borders.

While John Adams was president, the Naturalization, Alien, and Sedition Acts were passed by Congress and signed into law. Shelby Englund and Eric Svoboda summarized these laws as requiring

“applicants for citizenship to have declared intention to becoming a citizen five years prior to applicatoin, and lived in the United States 14 years when the application was admitted. This act was to be implemented on all new aliens providing they were no longer subjects of any nation the U.S. was at war with at the time of application.”

In 1799, Napoleon declared himself dictator and the wars in Europe had begun. The French spread their war dominance during the next decade throughout Europe, northern Africa, and parts of Asia. Once again, immigration was affected since great risk was placed upon any immigrant ships willing to travel among the French and English fleets throughout the North Atlantic Ocean. If a ship was captured by either the French or English, the occupants would become slaves for the crew who captured the ship.

While Thomas Jefferson took office as President of the U.S., much land was purchased including purchasing land from the Creek Indians in Georgia, establishing land boundaries with the Choctaw Nation, and the Louisiana Purchase from France. Napoleon was running out of money and needed some cash as he continued his assault upon Europe. He continued his reign until he was captured and exiled for the second time in 1815.

More land meant more growth and opportunities for the young nation. Of course, this created more problems with the native tribes in these areas. Once settlers began to push westward, there would certainly be confrontation.

In mid-1809, the mighty European power Spain began to lose its influence over Central America, South America, and Mexico. Eventually, Spain would lose everything in the Western Hemisphere, including western Florida to the U.S. in 1810 and eastern Florida in 1819.

Speaking of confrontation, the British continued to show their presence on the east coast of the U.S. With their presence, trade was hampered and citizens were unable to grow their businesses without the threat of an unwelcomed attack by the British. Finally, on June 18, 1812, Congress declared war on England. Enough was enough. The U.S. must have its harbors and coasts clear of British influence. Naturally, the British didn’t only fight the U.S. soldiers, they also managed to stir up some of the western native tribes to fight against the U.S. soldiers as well. The War of 1812 lasted until December of 1814 and the British began to part the eastern coast of North America; however, a military presence on the western frontier of the nation was still necessary to protect the citizens from harm.

Once the seaways were cleared, immigrant ships began to arrive. As a result, it was necessary for Congress to update its rules on immigration with the Steering Act of 1819, this time by establishing

“rules to be followed by carrying passengers to the United States.”

During the first three decades of our nation, there was tremendous growth, trial, and perseverance. Challenges upon the western expanses remained with the local tribes who felt threatened by the Whites. Challenges on the eastern coast by England threatened the economy and well-being of those who depended upon trade. In order to protect its citizens and provide the opportunity of commerce of these citizens, the borders on the east coast, the south, the north, and the western frontier must be protected by the government of the United States of America.

To be continued in part 3…

Article by John Coder

Posted July 21, 2014

Part 3: The Period 1821 – 1870

The community park had doubled in size and even included a lake thanks to donations made by four local farmers. The park president directed that the lake be converted into a large pool with a shallow end meant for families with small children and a deep end for teenagers and adults. In addition, two slides were to be built at the deepest end of the lake. The first large attraction was about to be added to the park: a carousel. This carousel would seat up to 30 passengers and would be run by local volunteers from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.

Now that the park included a lake as well, word began to spread across the county about the fantastic park. The number of visitors had grown substantially. With the addition of the carousel, there was great concern for the health and well-being of the visitors. Therefore, the park president made a decision for the park to have its first vendor: a lemonade stand. The only drinks to be allowed would be water and lemonade. Its hours would match that of the carousel. All profits of the lemonade stand would be used to maintain and clean the park.

Unfortunately, disputes began to occur regarding who could use the park and when. This prompted the need for advanced event scheduling until the park was better able to accommodate multiple events simultaneously. To provide safety for those in the park, the local community also established a volunteer “neighborhood watch” program to alert authorities of any mischief that occurred within the park.

While the park was limited in its available attractions overall, word continued to spread and vistors continue to flock to see the new park.

During the 1820s, the United States continued to grow but that wasn’t the only activity on the North American continent. With much reluctance, Spain ceded Florida to the United States once the Adams-Onis Treaty was deemed final. Mexico declared its independence from Spain in 1821 and later became the United Mexican States in 1824. Plus, Texas was about to become a hot topic of debate.

In 1821, Missouri became the 24th state of the Union. Immigration began to increase during this time period totaling approximately 152,000, per the Bureau of Immigration Annual Report for 1925. In fact, in 1825, the first Norwegian immigrants came to the United States. On a side note, Congress authorized the removal of Indians from all states to the western prairie.

In the 1830s, Texas was a part of Mexico. As more Americans were drawn and invited to move to Texas, the citizens became disgruntled with the leadership of Mexico, mainly Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, and they sought independence. On October 2, 1835, the first battle of the Texas Revolution began with a battle between American settlers and Mexican soldiers near the Guadalupe River over the disarmament of the town’s cannon. Eventually, Texas earned its independence and immediately looked to join the United States but this required time.

Arkansas became a state in 1836 followed by Michigan in 1837. In just 60 years, there were now 26 states in the United States, double the number of the original 13 states. Legal immigration had increased to nearly 600,000 during the 1830s.

From 1846 – 48, a great potato famine began in Ireland. While this may sound rather simplistic, this famine resulted in nearly 1.2 million immigrants to leave Ireland and come to America. The majority of these immigrants were very hard working and took position that required physical labor. During this time, the Swedes also began to immigrate to America. This rapid increase in immigration prompted action by Congress to found a Passenger Act. This act set very strict conditions upon how many passengers may be boarded upon a vessel that is en route to America. It was aimed at protecting its potential American citizens from overcrowding conditions upon transport vessels.

The 1840s also marked the beginning of the Oregon Trail and other wagon trains began to follow en route to California. Florida (1845), Texas (1845), Iowa (1846), and Wisconsin (1848) joined the United States. However, it was the need to include Texas that prompted the invasion of Mexican soldiers into Texas and ultimately the U.S.-Mexican War. In early 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed, ending the U.S.-Mexican War. Mexico ceded one-third of its territory to the U.S. in exchange for $15 million. The land included California and set the boundary with Mexico at the Rio Grande. As a result of this treaty, 60,000 Mexican residents in the New Mexico Territory and 10,000 residents in California became U.S. citizens.

In the late 1840s, the German Revolution and severe drought conditions prompted German refugees to flee their nation in the hopes of becoming U.S. citizens. By 1850, the growth of the United States continued to move westward and immigration had soared to 1,713,000.

Beginning in 1852, over 20,000 Chinese immigrants began to arrive in California. These immigrants were escaping dire floods, droughts, famine, and revolutions. There were so many Chinese coming to California that a foreign miner’s tax was enacted in California, largely in reaction to this large incoming populace.

New legislation and key court decisions enabled additional citizenship while others prohibited it. In 1855, the Citizenship of Children Born Abroad and of Married Women Act established the law that women and children of U.S. parents born abroad would now be considered citizens of the United States of America. Also in 1855, another Passenger Act set additional regulations upon the carriage of passengers on steamboats and other vessels. In a stunning U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1857, it was decided that all Blacks, regardless whether they were free of slave, would never become citizens of the United States.

During the 1850s, California (1850), Minnesota (1858), and Oregon (1859) became states of America. Immigration also increased to approximately 2,598,000 in the 1950s.

1860 began with the election of Abraham Lincoln. A month later, South Carolina became the first of 13 states to secede from the Union. The American Civil War began shortly after.

The flow of Chinese immigrants continued to increase in California. This prompted the Anti-Coolie Act which would dampen transportation of Chinese immigrants upon “coolie” ships and would also post additional taxes upon Chinese immigrants.

In 1864, an Immigration Act established the Commission of Immigration and the office of Superintendent of Immigration based out of New York City. In addition, this act validated and enforced labor contracts of future immigrants.

In 1865, the Enrollment Act established groundwork for citizens to lose citizenship as a penalty for draft evasion or desertion in the Armed Forces.

In 1865, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed which stated, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” During the following year in April, the Civil Rights Act was passed and established the U.S. citizenship of all Blacks and conferred legal equality and protection of fundamental human rights and property rights. After President Lincoln’s assassination, President Andrew Johnson declared the Civil War over on August 20, 1866.

In 1870, an additional act extended citizenship rights to former African slaves not born in the United States, called the Naturalization Act.

During the difficult period of the 1860s, Kansas (1861), West Virginia (1863), Nevada (1864), and Nebraska (1867) joined the U.S. as new states. Immigration to the United States during this period dropped but was still high at 2,315,000.

During the 1820-1870, there was a great increase in legal immigration to the United States, primarily from Europe, due to many circumstances. The United States provided an image of hope and opportunity for those who were determined to start a new life through hard work and determination. This is the true spirit that began to thrive in America as it entered the Reconstruction Period after the Civil War.

To be continued in part 4…

Article by John Coder

Posted July 28, 2014

Part 4: The Period 1871 – 1920

With the addition of the carousel, the attendance to the park increased dramatically. Sales at the lemonade stand increased so much that a second and third lemonade stand were added at opposite corners of the park. Revenue had increased to over $5,000 during the first year with the carousel.

Over the next three years, the park president, at the urging of the community, decided to add more rides to the community park: a spider, a scrambler, a Ferris wheel, a small roller coaster, a water boat ride in the lake and other medium-sized rides. A 200-car lot was created for customers to park their vehicles. The hours of operation expanded to noon to 8 o’clock in the evening. A pizza stand and a burger stand were added along with a soda stand.

As the park did not have fencing along its boundaries, it was required that all customers who wished to ride the attractions purchase an arm band. To maintain the park and to fund additional growth, an arm band fee of $5 was charged to children under twelve years of age and $10 for those over the age of twelve. A customer would not be allowed to ride an attraction without an arm band.

Still, the crowds continued to pour in from regions throughout the state and bordering states, as well! Revenues soared! If this growth continued, additional rides and full-time security would likely be necessary. Perhaps, adult roller coasters would be added next year. The community had no idea that such a small park would grow to be so popular.

Meanwhile, growth also continued within the United States. During the next fifty years, immigration increased mostly from the nations of Italy, Greece, Poland, and China.

During the 1870s, legal immigration rose to an astounding 2,812,191 per the Harvard University Library Open Collection Program. During this decade, only Colorado joined the United States as a new state in 1876.

In 1871, Congress passed the Indian Appropriation Act which abolished the Indian nations and made each Indian a “ward” of the state. Four years later, Congress attempted to protect the rights due to the African-American population with the first Civil Rights Act. It was later declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1875.

Even with the immigration and “coolie” laws passed into U.S. law, the immigration by the Chinese continued. As a result of the increased racial hatred, some Chinese immigrants in Los Angeles, California were attacked and 19 Chinese men and boys were massacred at the hands of over 500 anti-Chinese rioters. In 1975, the Page Act was passed to prevent Chinese men and women brought to the United States from being tricked into male slavery or female prostitution. The Page Act specified that immigration from the Far East must be free and voluntary, forbidding immigration for the purpose of prostitution, and forbidding a contract into forced slavery. And still more anti-Chinese rioting occurred in California in 1877, this time in San Francisco. The Sandlot Riot resulted because Chinese immigrants were blamed as the root cause of the depression in California. A nationwide depression had already seized the East Coast beginning in 1873. Almost one-fourth of the California labor force was unemployed.

In 1876, France offered the ultimate image that many future immigrants would remember as they approached New York Harbor: the Statue of Liberty. As a gift from France to the U.S., construction began on the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island located in New York Harbor. This statue would become a welcoming beacon for immigration: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” – Emma Lazarus.

The 1880s brought still more rioting against Chinese immigrants. On September 2, 1885 in Rock Springs, Wyoming Territory, 28 Chinese laborers were killed and hundreds more chased out of town by striking coal miners. In 1885, California passed legislation to create separate schools for Asian-Americans. In February, 1886, President Cleveland declared a state of emergency in Seattle because of anti-Chinese violence.

To protect against the incredible stream of Chinese immigrants into the United States, the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed by Congress in 1882, overcoming a veto by President Arthur. The Act banned Chinese immigrants from entering the United States for ten years. The cutoff date was November 17, 1880; any Chinese immigrant to have arrived after that date were to be identified, removed from America, and sent to a foreign port. In 1884, this Act was amended to extend to a new period of ten years and included an extremely detailed list of criminal penalties and fines.In 1888, the Scott Chinese Exclusion Act banned all Chinese laborers from returning to the U.S. as well as all new immigration from China. The Act banned all Chinese persons from entry into the U.S. except traveling for pleasure. All detailed personal identification of Chinese persons would be collected and placed on file.

In 1882, the first Immigration Act was signed into law. A 50 cent duty was due from each incoming passenger to America that was not a U.S. citizen. It was stated that the duty of the State commission, board, or officers was to examine the condition of passengers arriving at the ports with each applicable State. In addition, it stated that all foreign convicts, except of political offenses, were to be sent back to the nations to which they belong. In 1885, the Alien Contract Labor Law was passed to “prohibit the importation and migration of foreigners and aliens under contract or agreement to perform labor in the United States, its Territories, and the District of Columbia.” In other words, it prohibited contractual agreements between U.S. businesses or individuals with individuals prior to becoming a U.S. citizen. The Act of 1888 required an immigrant to be deported who had landed in violation of contract labor laws.

At the close of 1890, North Dakota (1889), South Dakota (1889), Montana (1889), Washington (1889), Idaho (1890), and Wyoming (1890) became states. In 1890, Ellis Island was deemed to become the immigration station and was designed to handle up to 5,000 newcomers per day.Immigration during this period nearly doubled from the previous decade to 5,246,613.

The Immigration Act of 1891 extended exclusion from admission into the U.S. to “all idiots, insane persons, paupers or persons likely to become a public charge, persons suffering from a loathsome or a dangerous contagious disease, persons who have been convicted of a felony or other infamous crime or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude, polygamists, and also any person whose ticket or passage is paid for with the money of another or who is assisted by other to come.” In addition, any person who attempted to bring any alien not lawfully entitled to enter the U.S. would be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined up to $1,000 or imprisoned up to one year.

The Immigration Act of 1893 added additional information to be reported by immigrant arrivals such as full name, age, and sex, married or single, occupation, ability to read or write, nationality, the last residence, final destination, whether the immigrant had paid his own passage, and whether the immigrant was in possession of any money.

Since Chinese immigration continued in spite of the laws passed, in 1892 the Geary Chinese Exclusion Act was passed. For a ten-year period, any person of Chinese decent that was found to have been staying illegally within the United States would be removed from the U.S. As required by this law, legal residents were to be registered as being entitled to be in the U.S. and carry an identity card or they would be deported. The next year, deportation of illegal Chinese aliens began in San Francisco. On March 17, 1894, the United States and China signed the Gresham-Yang Treaty preventing Chinese laborers from entering the United States. The Chinese government abandoned its migrant workers in exchange for a profitable trade deal with the United States.

In 1893, President Harrison extended amnesty to Mormon polygamists. The next year, the Bureau of Immigration was established to oversee immigration since it was a growing area of concern for the nation’s well-being. When Hawaii was annexed by the United States in 1900, Congress passed a law that granted U.S. citizenship to all citizens of the Republic of Hawaii.

During the 1890s, Utah (1896) joined the United States and immigration dropped to 3,687,564. In 1898, an important ruling was made in the case United States v. Wong Kim Ark. It ruled that a child born in the United States to Chinese immigrants was a U.S. citizen. As a result of this ruling, any child born on American soil would immediately become a U.S. citizen even though the parents were not.

During the early 1900s, Congress and the Supreme Court were busy with immigration issues. The Scott Chinese Exclusion Act of 1902 extended the 1888 Scott Exclusion Act indefinitely and prohibited the immigration from any U.S island territory to the mainland. A certificate of residence must be acquired within one year or face deportation. The Immigration Act of 1903 added four new classes not allowed to immigrate into the U.S.: anarchists, people with epilepsy, beggars, and importers of prostitutes. In the 1904 Gonzalez v. Williams case, the Supreme Court ruled that Puerto Ricans were not to be considered aliens and could enter the U.S. freely; however, the court stopped short of declaring them U.S. citizens. Also in 1904, the latest Chinese Exclusion Act prevented transportation from island territory to mainland territory of the U.S.

On Aprl 5, 1906, nine European steamships arrived in New York City with approximately 11,839 immigrants. In addition, another 8 ships were expected the next day with a similar number of immigrants. The facilities at Ellis Island could only handle 5,000 newcomers per day.

In 1906, the immigration laws became more detailed and structured. The Naturalization Act of 1906 required an oath at least two years prior to the alien’s admission and after the alien had reached the age of eighteen years; after two years and not beyond seven years after the oath, the alien must provide a petition in writing declaring the alien’s intent to become a U.S. citizen; prior to being admitted citizenship, the alien must declare an oath to support the Constitution of the United States and denounce all other allegiances; the alien must have resided continuously within the U.S. at least five years and within the current state or territory for at least one year; if the alien had a previous hereditary title, it must be renounced’; if death fell upon the alien, the widow and children may become naturalized without making any declaration of intent.

In February, 1907, the passenger ship Larchmont sank after she had collided with the schooner Harry P. Knowles during a winter storm in heavy seas. The Larchmont sank quickly and only 19 men including the captain survived. It was estimated that 150 people had died.

The final legislation of this decade was passed in 1907 and was later amended ni 1910. The Expatriation Act of 1907 allowed the issuance of passports to those non-citizen persons who had resided in the U.S. for three years which would entitle the holder protection of the Government in any foreign country; it established that any American citizen shall be deemed to have expatriated himself if he has been naturalized by another nation or had resided two years in a foreign state from which he came or five years in any other foreign state; an American woman who married a foreigner shall take the nationality of her husband; if a woman became an American by marriage, the woman would revert back to her previous nationality after a divorce; a child of naturalized parents would also become naturalized as long as the child was living in the U.S. This Act was amended in 1910 to include that immigration to criminals, anarchists, paupers and the sick was strictly forbidden.

Only Oklahoma (1907) joined the United States during the period 1901 – 1910 while immigration soared to 8,795,386.

The 1910s was a very difficult time in world history that began with the Mexican Revolution. In response to war activities near the border between Mexico and the U.S., 20,000 American troops were sent to maintain order along the border.

In March, 1911, a squad of immigration officials in San Francisco captured six Chinese slave girls which had been purchased for $25,000. In 1913, the California Webb Alien Land-Holding Bill was signed in California and, while it excluded multiple nationalities from holding land, its effective aim was to exclude Japanese from owning land.

And then a horrific event occurred that devastated the world. At 2:20 a.m., two hours and 40 minutes after impact, the luxury liner RMS Titanic sank in the North Atlantic Ocean off Newfoundland with the loss of about 1,522 lives.

From 1914 through 1918, the Great War in Europe and around the world had commenced and immigration likely stopped altogether during this period. War is not a funny thing; however, it requires great concentration to follow the events list below occurring in order, courtesy of

1914, July 28 Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia

1914, August 1 Germany declared war on Russia

1914, August 3 Germany invaded Belgium and declared war on France

1914, August 6 Austria-Hungary declared war against Russia and Serbia declared war against Germany

1914, August 12 Great Britain declared war on Austria-Hungary

1914, August 23 The Emperor of Japan sided with the Allies and declared war on Germany

1914, November 2 Russia declared war with Turkey

1914, November 5 The Great Britain and France declared war on Turkey

1915, February 18 Germany began a blockade of England

1915, February 22 Germany began “unrestricted” submarine warfare

1915, May 23 Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary

1915, August 21 Italy declared war on Turkey

1915, October 16 Great Britain declared war on Bulgaria

1916, March 9 Germany declared war on Portugal

1916, April 28 The British declared martial law throughout Ireland

1916, August 27 Italy declared war on Germany

1916, August 28 Germany declared war on Romania

1916, September 1 Bulgaria declared war on Romania

1917, January 19 British intercepted a telegram from Germany inviting Mexico to side with them in declaring war with the United States with the reward of recovering lost territories of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona

1917, January 31 Germany resumed unlimited sub warfare, saying that all neutral ships that are in the war zone would be attacked

1917, February 7 British steamer California was sunk off the coast of Ireland by a German U-boat

1917, February 8 The British steamship Mantola was torpedoed by a German submarine off the coast of Ireland

1917, March 18 The Germans sank the U.S. ships, City of Memphis, Vigilante and the Illinois, without any type of warning

1917, April 6 The US Congress approved a declaration of war against Germany and entered World War I on the Allied side

1917, August 14 The Chinese Parliament declared war on the Central Powers, Germany and Austria

1917, December 7 The US declared war on Austria-Hungary

1918, March 7 Finland signed an alliance treaty with Germany

1918, September 25 Brazil declared war on Austria

1918, September 30 Bulgaria pulled out of World War I

1918, October 30 Turkey signed an armistice with the Allies, agreeing to end hostilities at noon October 31

1918, November 3 The Austro-Hungarian Empire dissolved

1918, November 4 Austria signed an armistice with Allies

1918, November 11 German and Allied negotiators signed the armistice that would end World War I

On top of all of the activities listed above, many new nations declared their independence throughout the world, particulary in Europe and Asia..

In February, 1917, the most comprehensive Immigration Act to date was signed into law. It identified the term “alien”; a tax was placed of $8 for every alien over the age of 16; it excluded admission to idiots, imbeciles, feeble-minded persons, epileptics, insane persons, person with chronic alcoholism, paupers, beggars, vagrants, persons afflicted with tuberculosis, criminals, polygamists, anarchists, persons with involvement in prostitution, persons previously deported, assisted immigrants, unaccompanied children unless determined they would not become a public charge; multiple punishments were listed for those who pursued illegal immigration including up to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000; advertising abroad for labor immigrants was deemed illegal.

While the U.S. began its efforts to curtail the Great War in Europe, Congress passed the Wartime Measure Act in 1918. It stated that any alien attempting to depart or enter the U.S. was required to follow the rules and regulations prescribed by the president. Anyone who attempted to transport prohibited persons was strictly forbidden. It also forbade persons from providing false documentation and false testimony for themselves or for another.

During the 1910s, immigration did indeed drop due to the Great War as 5,735,811 legal immigrants joined the United States as citizens. New Mexico (1912) and Arizona (1912) joined the now complete Continental United States.

To be continued in part 5…

Article by John Coder

Posted August 4, 2014

Part 5: The Period 1921 – 1970

British immigrants on board the immigration ship Rangitata, 1940,

Several years later, the community park had become a full-scale amusement park. It now included a variety of roller coasters: bob sled, dual track wooden, stand up, suspended, and looping. Other rides now included bumper cars, river raft, double Ferris wheel, and water slide into the large pool. The entire allotment of donated land was now filled.

Also, there was now a full food court that offered a wide range of items such as turkey legs, tacos, hamburgers, pizza, and sandwiches. Soft drinks, lemonade, and bottled water were also available for purchase. Additional parking was created to handle the large number of visitors.

It was determined that the original community members would receive free arm bands which included unlimited admission upon the rides. As there were no fences necessary to protect outsiders from entering the park during operation, additional security measures were taken daily to discourage any trespassers from vandalizing the property during operation and after hours. After some discussion, the community urged the park president to allow those who operated the rides to also have a free arm band. Unfortunately, it was later learned that those who operated the rides were giving their free arm bands to their relatives.

The 1920s began with great celebrations world-wide. The Great War was won and the Industrial Revolution was in full swing. Immigration into the U.S. was recorded as 4,107,209, according to the Department of Homeland Security. However, more changes were occurring on the European Continent that would affect immigration in the near future. Italy halted the issue of passports to those emigrating to the U.S. as the Fascist Party began to take form in 1921 and Josef Stalin became the undisputed ruler of the Soviet Union as Leon Trotsky was expelled from the Communist Party in 1927. In 1928, Japanese Emperor Hirohito was enthroned, almost two years after his ascension.

As the number of immigrants continued to flow into the United States, Congress made the decision to curb immigration by passing the Emergency Quota Act in 1921. The Act limited the number of admissions to 3 per cent of the existing number of residents of the same nationality already residing in the U.S. with specific noted exceptions, thus establishing a quota.

On May 26, 1924, the Immigration Restriction Act was passed. This Act enabled the creation of the visa which specified the nationality of the immigrant, whether the immigrant was a quota or non-quota immigrant, the date that the visa expired, and any additional requirements as deemed necessary. The visa would expire no more than beyond four months. The term “immigrant” was defined as “any alien departing from any place outside of the United States destined for the United States.” Other terms defined in this Act include quota immigrants and non-quota immigrants. The process of how to obtain a visa and who may obtain it was included in this Act. This Act went into effect on July 1, 1929.

On June 2, 1924, Congress granted U.S. citizenship to its Native American Indians with the Snyder Act.

And then, it happened. The Stock Market Crash of 1929. The Dow Jones peaked at 381.17 in September. By late October, the Dow Jones dropped to 260.64! By 1932, the Dow Jones was as low as 41.63. The Great Depression gripped the entire world.

While Franklin Roosevelt took his oath of office as President of the United States in 1933, Adolf Hitler was granted dictatorial legislative powers under the Enabling Act. Within a week, Hitler began to ban Jews from everything from owning a business to attending schools and a plan was set in motion for the extermination of the entire Jewish population. By 1935, German Jewish citizenship was even deprived by the German Nuremburg Laws. Anti-Semitism was so bad that many Jews were leaving Germany and immigrating to the United States, including Albert Einstein. Meanwhile, Benito Mussolini had declared fascism across Italy.

By the end of the 1930s, Japan and China had declared war on each other, Germany invaded Austria and Czechoslovakia, and Italy had invaded Albania. As a result of this turmoil, a meager 528,431 immigrants landed on American soil during this decade. European immigration was only 17% of the previous decade.

In 1938, President Roosevelt sign the Fair Labor Standards Act and set the minimum wage for American workers at $0.25 per hour. Government had now asserted itself into determination American wages. The following year, the first Food Stamp Program was created and operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under Henry Wallace and Milo Perkins. Presented in bright orange stamps, recipients could use food stamps to purchase groceries. Its initial goal was to assist those who were under-nourished during the Great Depression. For every $1 of orange stamps used, the recipient would receive fifty cents worth of blue stamps which could be used to purchase only surplus food as determined by the Department of Agriculture.

The 1940s ushered in a period of dictatorship across Eurasia. While it was true that Adolf Hitler was an evil man while attempting to execute the world’s Jewish population by shipping them by overcrowded trains to concentration camps like Auschwitz, Benito Mussolini, Josef Stalin, and Hideki Tojo (under Emperor Hirohito) were not exactly peacemakers. In fact, any one of the four dictators during this period would have conquered the super continent if left unchecked by any of the other three. Fortunately, the millions of valiant, brave soldiers from the United States of America, England, Australia, China, and many more were able to overcome the Germans, Italians, and Japanese. Unfortunately, they were unable to push the Russians out of western Europe.

Due to the sabotage of war preparations by German supporters on U.S. soil and the potential threat of the same by Japanese supporters, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 which gave the military the authority to relocate Japanese-Americans living in California, Oregon, Washington, and Arizona to camps throughout the U.S. interior. Over 10,000 Japanese-Americans were held in camps until January 1945.

Due to the large number of American men that left their employment and profession to fight in World War II, women were required to pick up the slack in the manufacturing field. In addition, contracts were worked out with Mexico that allowed some of the Mexican labor force to work for those in need of assistance in the United States. Under this 1942 Bracero Agreement, it was understood that these workers would not displace other existing workers for the purpose of reducing rates of pay previously established. In 1943, the Appropriations for Farm Labor Law provided $26.1 million of aid to states in need of labor assistance. The money was to be spent specifically on recruitment, transportation, shelter, burial, and other applicable expenses.

In the aftermath of World War II, several acts and laws were enacted. On January 2, 1944, to show good faith toward China after their support in World War II, President Roosevelt signed the Repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Acts. In December of 1944, the Supreme Court ruled on Korematsu v. United States and upheld the wartime relocation of Japanese-Americans yet those loyal to America could not be detained indefinitely. Two years later, a US Congress Rescission Act revoked the promise of citizenship to Filipinos who had been drafted to fight under General MacArthur in the Pacific Theatre during World War II. However, later that year, the Luce-Celler Act provided a quota of 100 Filipinos and 100 Indians to immigrate into the United States each year. In 1945, the War Brides Act enabled alien spouses and alien minor children of citizen members of the U.S. armed forces to become citizens of the United States. In 1946, the Chinese War Brides Act followed.

On March 21, 1947, President Truman signed Executive Order 9835 which required all federal employees to swear their allegiance to the United States. As the decade neared its end, additional laws were signed to assist in further immigration due to the extent of World War II: the Displaced Persons Bill (1948) and the Act of Alien Spouses and Children (1950). The minimum wage was raised twice during the 1950s to $0.40 (1945) and again to $0.75 (1948). Immigration began to increase only slightly to 1,035,039 during this war-time decade.

A quota was added to the current immigration system with the McCarren-Walter Act of 1952. Enacted on June 27, this Immigration and Nationality Act included many provisions that were necessary to maintain order and stability within the United States borders. It reaffirmed the national origins quota system, limited immigration from the Eastern Hemisphere while leaving the Western Hemisphere unrestricted, established preferences for skilled workers and relatives of U.S. citizens and permanent resident aliens, and tightened security and screening standards and procedures. In 1953, the Refugee Relief Act authorized the granting of 205,000 special non-quota visas to those who could not return to their country of origin “because of persecution, fear of persecution, natural calamity or military operations”.

Upon completion of the Bracero Agreement in the mid-1960s, migrants continued to be drawn by American growers into the United States without following immigration laws. In an effort to combat this illegal flow of immigration, Mexico closed its borders to the United States and implemented Operation Wetback in 1954. On November 12, 1954, Ellis Island closed its doors to the immigration process permanently. Since 1892, over 20 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island.

During the 1950s, Alaska (1959) and Hawaii (1959) completed the United States and the minimum wage was raised to $1.00 per hour (1955). Immigration rose to 2,515,479 with those immigrating from Mexico increasing to 273,847, up 488% from the 1940s. With the 1950s came the demand of civil rights. These rights were first legislated with Public Law 85-315 and signed by President Eisenhower in 1957. Its main purpose was to ensure the right to vote by all legal Americans regardless of their race. It also laid the groundwork to study other instances where unequal protection under the law may exist. in 1960, the Civil Rights Act further established federal inspection of local voter registration polls and added penalties to anyone who obstructed another’s right to vote, particularly in the South.

After repeated failed attempts to overthrow the government, the island nation of Cuba was taken over by Fidel Castro in 1959. Within a short period, he nationalized the oil, sugar, banking, and all other American industries and businesses. In retaliation, President Eisenhower imposed an embargo on all exports to Cuba except for medical supplies and specific food products. Cuban residents began to defect to the United States in 1958 when an airplane that was set to leave from Havana and land in Santa Clara instead was diverted to Miami, Florida. Hijacking airplanes became a regular occurrence as a means to escape Cuba. To further encourage escape from Cuba, in 1966 the U.S. Cuban Adjustment Act granted any Cuban who reached American soil the right to stay.

In 1964, the Civil Rights Act survived an 83-day filibuster in the U.S. Democrat-held Senate, led by Democrat Senator Robert C. Byrd, that guaranteed the right to vote for everyone and prohibited segregation in public places.

The hourly minimum wage established by the federal government increased to $1.25 (1961), to $1.30 (1965), to $1.40 (1967), and finally to $1.60 (1968). Additional rights granted to U.S. citizens now included the right of poor defendants to an attorney per the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Gideon v. Wainright in March of 1963. In June of that year, President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act which required equal pay for men and women regardless of educational background or inapplicable experience. The pay required to perform a job must be equal. And, finally, the Food Stamp Act became a permanent program to assist the individuals in need of food. According to the Act, the federal government provided the funding for the benefits while the states were required to pay for the costs of determining eligibility for the stamps and distributing the stamps. Food stamps could only be used for food items and for plants and seeds used to grow food. Food stamps were not allowed to be used to purchase non-food items such as pet food, vitamins, and medicine.

At this time in history, the government now established the minimum wage, required equal pay for equal work, required free legal counsel for the poor, required free food benefits to the poor, and established that Cuban refugees that land on American soil may become U.S. citizens. In addition, Mexican citizens were enticed to cross the border to work for businesses who continued to hire illegal aliens. The need to protect the U.S. borders from illegal immigrants was increasing.

Article by John Coder

Posted August 11, 2014

Part 6: The Period 1971 – June, 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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