TABLE 2-1Selected Immigration Legislation in the United States

Year Legislation Content
1924 National Origins Act Created a system of national quotas that restricted immigration to 2 percent of national origin groups as of 1890.
1940 Alien Registration Act Advocated by Senator Joseph McCarthy, required the registration and fingerprinting of all aliens, and enforced laws regarding immigration and deportation.
1952 Immigration and Nationality Act of (McCarran-Walter) Reinstated the national origins quota system 1924, and limited total annual immigration to one-sixth of 1 percent of the 1920 continental population. Extended the right of naturalization to all races.
1965 Immigration and Nationality Act (Hart-Celler) Granted priority to family reunification and repealed the national origins quota system.
1978 Worldwide Ceiling Law A combination ceiling of both Eastern and Western Hemispheres totaling 290,000. It also extended the 20,000 per country maximum to Western Hemisphere countries.
1980 Refugee Act Established to harbor people fleeing Vietnam; granted asylum to politically oppressed refugees.
1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act Sanctioned employers who hired undocumented workers; granted amnesty to approximately 3 million undocumented residents.
1990 Immigration Act Promoted immigration, particularly for highly skilled professionals.
1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act Increased criminal penalties for immigration-related offenses, authorized increases in enforcement personnel, enhanced enforcement authority, and made immigrant sponsorship legally enforceable.
1998 American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act Increased H-1B visa quotas from 1999 to 2002 for skilled information technology workers. H-1B visas allow foreign nationals with special skills to work in the United States.
2000 American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act Raised the annual limit for H-1Bs in fiscal years 2000 through 2003 from the previous 115,000 to 195,000.
2000 Legal Immigration and Family Equity Act Permitted the reunion of families long separated by delays in the processing of immigrant visas.
2001 Extension of 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act Allows immigrants who entered the United States without inspection or who overstayed their visas to adjust their status to lawful permanent residence without having to leave the United States, provided they pay a $1,000 penalty and are beneficiaries of family- or employment-based visa petitions filed on or before a certain date.
2001 Patriot Act Broadened the grounds for excluding terrorists and aliens with ties to terrorist organizations and detaining immigrants thought to be involved in terrorist activities.
2002 Border Security and Visa Reform Act Increased the number of Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) personnel and authorized appropriations for INS, Border Patrol, and consular personnel, training, facilities, and security-related technology.

From: 2, Multiple Origins, Hispanic Portrait

Cover of Multiple Origins, Uncertain Destinies
Multiple Origins, Uncertain Destinies: Hispanics and the American Future.
National Research Council (US) Panel on Hispanics in the United States; Tienda M, Mitchell F, editors.
Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2006.
Copyright © 2006, National Academy of Sciences.

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