: Students will examine and understand the significance of the laws that have influenced the entry and exclusion of persons from the United States.
: In this activity students will review the series of immigration laws between the years 1788 -1986. Before class begins the teacher should write each of the events listed below on a separate large index card. The laws are listed in chronological order. Begin the activity by explaining to students that their assignment is in two parts; first, they are about to create a human time line of the laws listed below. Randomly distribute the cards. Direct students to read the information on their card. They are responsible for placing the law in its correct chronological order. Second, they must place the law in historical context. They should think about any circumstances including famine, depression, war, technological advances, and industrialization that might have influenced the course of immigration policy. Students will have to do some research from their textbook, The Americans, in order to write a description of what life was like in the U.S. politically, economically. and socially at the time of their immigration law. Teachers should designate starting and ending points for the human time line. Direct the rest of the class to decide among themselves where along the line they should stand to create an accurate chronology. Students should then report to the class the law, as well as place it in historical context.
Materials Used: 5x7 index cards, textbook
The following time line presents a brief glimpse into the key immigration laws and events from 1788-1986.
1788 The U.S. Constitution restricts the presidency to native born citizens and gives Congress the authority to establish a uniform rule on naturalization.
1798 Alien Act, an attempt to control French radicals after the revolution, stipulates residency and deportation ; regulation repealed 1801
1808 U.S. forbids the importation of slaves
1812 Ship's captains must provide a list of all passengers including age, sex, occupation, country of origin and deaths on route
1875 No prostitutes or convicts allowed to enter the U.S.
1876 U.S. Supreme Court declares state laws on immigration unconstitutional
1882 Chinese Exclusion Act
1882 No lunatics, idiots, convicts, or public charges allowed to enter the U.S.
1885 No contract laborers allowed to enter the U.S.
1892 Ellis Island opens. other immigration stations set up in Boston, Philadelphia, and San Francisco
1903 Secretary of Labor and Commerce assume control over immigration until 1940; anarchists excluded
1907 Head tax on immigrants raised; No persons with physical or mental defects, tuberculosis, children not accompanied by a parent.
1917 Immigrants over 16 must be literate in a language; virtually all Asians banned,
1921 Quotas established
1924 National Origins Law (Johnson-Reed Act)
1929 Quotas of 1924 are made permanent
1939 Refugee bill defeated that would allow admittance of 20,000 children from Nazi Germany
1940 Attorney General given control of immigration
1942 Bracero program begun
1943 Repeal of Chinese Exclusion Laws
1946 War Brides Act
1948 Displaced Persons Act
1950 Internal Security Act
1952 The Immigration and Nationality Act (McCarran-Walter Act)
1957 Refugee Escape Act
1960 Cuban refugee program
1964 Bracero program ended
1965 Immigration and Nationality Act
1975 Indochina Refugees Resettlement Program
1976 Immigration and Nationality Act amendments
1980 Refugee Act
1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act