Immigration is a topic that has been absolutely on fire in the news circuit in the last few years. There are news stories surfacing each week on different aspects of immigration in the United States. Something that many people do not realize is the immigration issues facing us in 2014 are drastically different from those throughout history.

History of Immigration Law in the United States

17th Century

Immigration in the United States started in the 17th century. The first immigrants came to the US in 1607 when English settlers began the colonial immigration. Following this, the settlers began to import African slaves in 1619. In 1637 when Massachusetts required permission to host aliens. Legislation in all of the New England Colonies aside from Rhode Island was implemented to prevent the immigration of Quakers in 1656.

18th Century

At the start of the 18th century, 11% of the non-Native American population was black. From 1717-1769 the British shipped around 36,000 convicts to America. In 1740, the British parliament enacted the Plantation Act (aliens could not engage in British commerce without severe penalties), which served as a model for future US naturalization acts. England stopped emigration to the colonies in 1773 and from 1781-1788 articles of confederation kept citizenship and naturalization of immigrants under the control of the state. From 1790-1798 the Alien Naturalization Act and Alien and Sedition Acts were enacted. These included power to punish and deport immigrants and increased residency requirement for naturalization to 14 years.

19th Century

The 19th century brought many changes to immigration law in the United States. In 1808 foreign slave trade became illegal and 50,000 slaves became the first “illegal aliens” in the United States. Throughout the 1840s, naturalizations of Germans and Irish were expedited and offered free of charge during election times. On February 7, 1849, the Supreme Court ruled that congress alone would regulate immigration, taking the power away from state government. In 1870 the naturalization act was extended to include naturalization for former slaves. The 1880’s were comprised of the first “great wave” of European immigrants fleeing from repression, economic or political problems in their countries. In 1891, congress established the first federal administrative agency for regulating immigration. Ellis Island was opened January 2, 1892 as an immigrant entry checkpoint. Finally, on March 28, 1898 the Supreme Court confirmed that the 14th Amendment gives citizenship to anyone born in the United States.

20th Century

In 1903 the Anarchist Exclusion Act was enacted that excluded immigrants based on their political ideology. During 1910, the Mexican revolution drove thousands of Mexicans into the United States and the Angel Island immigration station opened. On May 28, 1924 the US Border Patrol established the labor appropriation act. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt signed the executive order to send tens of thousands of Japanese (and other) Americans to internment camps. In 1980 the Refugee Act allowed people who were persecuted to seek asylum in the US. April of 1996 brought the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act to tighten immigration and protect against terrorism.

21st Century

In 2000 the AFL-CIO labor union supported amnesty for immigrants in the US illegally. After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the US Department of Defenses expanded military support along the borders. In 2006, the Secure Fence Act authorized fencing along the US-Mexican border. Arizona signed bill 1070 into law that expanded the state’s authority to combat illegal immigration. The Supreme Court upheld a law in Arizona that penalized businesses that hired undocumented immigrants. In 2012 Obama signed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals that allowed people who came to the US as children to remain in the US without fear of deportation and be able to work.

Here is a sample of immigration bills related to children:

After understanding completely how laws and regulations about immigration have come to be, the current issues need to be addressed.

Immigration Issues in 2014

Main questions that are being asked this year are if immigration reform will happen, how deportation will change and how state’s stances and laws on immigration will change. People thought that there would be many immigration issues on US ballots this year, but people have been left disappointed with lack of movement in legislation for immigration.

States have been taking immigration into their own hands. Alabama HB 56 that asks schools to check students’ immigration status. California signed eight bills into law that affect immigrants. One of which, AB60, will allow unauthorized immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses starting January 2015. Florida approved in-state tuition at state colleges and universities for undocumented students through S1400.

Children Immigration to the United States

A recent problem with immigration is children from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala seeking safety in the United States in mass numbers. These children have been subjected to immense danger in their countries, mostly by the notoriously dangerous gang – Mara Salvatrucha-13 or MS-13. This gang was formed in Los Angeles, California in the 1980s and became known as one of the most violent gangs. There is evidence that they have been secretly backing El Salvador’s ruling party for several years. In 2012 there was an attempt to negotiate a gang “truce” to attempt to decrease the number of murders caused by gang turf wars. A mass grave was discovered hiding the victims of hundreds of unreported murders.

Honduras had the world’s highest murder rate in 2013. It is known to be particularly dangerous known for police abuses and corruption. In 2013 Guatemala’s former leader Efraín Ríos Montt was found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity. There is the widespread problem of using children for sexual tourism, pornography and organized crime throughout these particular countries.

Needless to say, these three countries are not suitable places for innocent children to live. There has been a lot of news about politicians and others launching a war against these refugee children. One of which, Texas Governor Rick Perry, was indicted by a Texas grand jury, charged with two felony counts: abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant.

Recently the Texas border mayors released the statement to these children to not be afraid. These children need help because they often come without guardians and fearing for their lives. Mayor Tony Martinez said, “We are on the ground… we are taking care of these children… we need to understand the human rights of all the human family.”

Here is an infographic about refugees.

It is absolutely ridiculous to not grant these children asylum from the dangerous environments that they are subject to every day. They are innocent and cannot defend themselves. Throughout the history of the United States, we have been a place for people who seek refuge from problems just like these. It is the reason that our great nation was founded. Denying these children that right is incredibly morally wrong.


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Photography enthusiast, creative ambitions, always smile.

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