Illegal immigration is an issue that the United States deals with everyday. It
causes many problems that America needs to address. The illegal immigrants cross our
nation’s borders for many reasons. They sneak into our country anyway they can.
The history of illegal immigration started when the United States started making
laws on whom and what kind of people could live in the U.S. Chinese immigrants were
some of the first immigrants to be persecuted by the United States. As the years went on,
Congress passed many laws regulating immigration.
Immigration to the United States began when Europeans first started coming to
the United States. Some of the first immigrants came from England, France, Germany,
Holland, Spain, and Portugal. The only immigration restrictions at this time were on
criminals and public charges (Vellos, 1997). During this period, immigration was needed
for labor and the development of the new land. It wasn’t until after the Civil war when
the United States government put restrictions on immigration. Convicts and prostitutes
were barred from entering the United States when congress passed the 1875 Act. This
was the same period when there were many Chinese laborers on the West Coast,
especially in California. Congress passed the Exclusion Act in 1882. This law prohibited
all Chinese immigrants from entering the U.S. and wouldn’t allow Chinese people to
become citizens. It wasn’t until 1943 when the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed.
Immigration was now seen as a threat to the United States economy and Congress began
expanding the list of "undesirable classes" hoping to upgrade the quality of immigrants
and to limit overall entry (Vellos, 1997).
In the early 1900’s, California state law passed a bill called “The Gentlemen’s
Agreement”, which prohibited Japanese immigrants from owning property or
leasing farmland. Then after World War 1, the Quota Act was proposed and passed by
U.S. Congress. This Law limited the number of foreigners allowed to cross the border to
three percent of their nationality that currently lived in the United States. A few years
later that percentage was lowered to two percent. During that same time period, again,
California passed another law called The Bracero Program, which allowed about two
million Mexicans to work in the state doing agricultural work. This law remained in
effect until a campaign called Operation wetback took place. This operation focused on
illegal immigrants mainly from Mexico. Approximately three million Mexican
immigrants and U.S. citizens were deported by the INS because of Operation Wetback.
Decades later, The Immigration Reform and Control Act, which was mainly
focused on illegal immigration, was passed by Congress in 1986. This Act Created laws
against employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. If the employer didn’t have
any knowledge that their employee was an illegal alien when they were hired, then there
wouldn’t be any penalty. If the employer found out that their employee was an illegal
immigrant during their employment, then they could be fined and penalized. This law
also legalized illegal immigrants who had lived in the United States before January 1,
During the next ten years, terrorism became more of a threat to the United States.
The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act was passed in 1996. This bill focused
on terrorism and other semi-related crimes. Deportation and denied access to relief are
two penalties that were given to immigrants charged with crimes.
The Personal Responsible and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act went into
effect also in 1996. This Act, known as the "Welfare Reform Bill”, made major changes in the public benefits available to legal immigrants. The Act makes even...