Evolution of US immigration policy

Over the years the immigration policy of the United States has changed many times. Of course this is true of most countries but few have seen changes as big as the US. There was a time when anybody who wanted to could move to the United States, at least any white people who wanted to could. Nowadays it is one of the most difficult countries to immigrate to as policies to limit the number of people moving to the US have been instituted.

For most of the history of the United States there has really been no policy on immigration, for years anybody who wanted to move to the US merely had to show up. This was early in the nations history when there was lots of space and not a lot of people, the country needed immigrants in order to grow. Eventually in the late nineteenth century medical exams were required to ensure that the people moving to the US were in good health but other than that there were no requirements that had to be met.

The first attempt at instituting an immigration policy occurred in 1921 and like most of the early policies it was a policy that was based mainly on race. The early policy was instituted because there was a fear that too many people from Eastern and Southern Europe were moving the US. The country clearly wanted immigrants from Western Europe and instituted policies to keep others out. One of the results of this was that when people had to flee the Nazis during the thirties very few of them were allowed into the United States.

A policy that placed quotas on how many immigrants could come from each country was kept in place until 1965 when a new law was passed. This one was intended to increase the diversity in America by allowing more immigrants from places other than Western Europe. The result has been a huge shift in the ethnic make up of the US. There are now far more people immigrating from places other than Europe with Latinos being by far the largest group of immigrants.

Over the years the number of people who have been allowed to immigrate to the United States has been declining which has resulted in a huge problem with illegal immigration. These days by far the most likely way that you will be able to move to the US is if you already have family there. This has left the people who don't have family connections with few options but to attempt to immigrate illegally. The vast majority come from Mexico but there are illegal immigrants from lots of other countries. The number of people who have come to the US illegally has created a huge debate about what to do about it, which will probably cause yet more changes to US immigration police.