Under increasing pressure from labor activists and charities, the U.S. government is phasing out its Mexican guest worker program after twenty-two years. The Bracero program, introduced in a bilateral agreement in 1942 in anticipation of labor shortages during World War II, gave Mexican workers contracts to be employed in the U.S. agricultural sector. During the operation, about 4.5 million contracts were signed for workers who could come to the United States. While the program requires Braceros to be entitled to certain provisions — including equal pay for local workers, free housing, affordable meals, and insurance — these rules are broken by many employers. It is reported that many farm workers receive a fraction of the wages of American workers. Lee G. Williams, the last director of the program under the Department of Labor, calls the system “legalized slavery.” The end of the bracero programme leads to an acceleration of illegal cross-border immigration. Whereas in the 20s, the argument was: “Keep America `American` by keeping immigrants out.” Now he said, “If you don`t welcome immigrants, you`re not going to celebrate all these different waves of immigration, Jews, Italians, Germans, you`re just anti-American. You don`t like that part of American history.
What began as an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 across the border has turned into a fierce debate over whether Title 42 should continue to be an immigration tool to prevent migrants from seeking asylum. Some asylum seekers are included in the Migrant Protection Protocols, another Trump-era policy that requires migrants to wait in Mexico while their immigration cases go through U.S. courts. The Biden administration sought to abandon the program, known as “stay in Mexico,” but a federal judge ordered it to reinstate it following a lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. In 1917, the United States Congress passed the first largely restrictive immigration bill. The uncertainty created about national security during World War I allowed Congress to pass this law, and it contained several important provisions that paved the way for the 1924 law. The 1917 Act introduced a literacy test that required immigrants over the age of 16 to demonstrate a basic reading comprehension in each language. It also increased taxes paid by new immigrants upon arrival, allowing immigration officers greater discretion in deciding who to exclude.
Finally, the law prohibited anyone born in a geographically defined “Asian exclusion zone,” with the exception of Japanese and Filipinos. In 1907, the Japanese government voluntarily restricted Japanese immigration to the United States in the Gentleman`s Agreement. The Philippines was an American colony, so its citizens were American citizens and were free to travel to the United States. China has not been admitted to the no-go zone, but Chinese have already been denied immigrant visas under China`s exclusion law. In fact, the people who want to change [immigration policy] are often presidents who deal with foreign policy [consequences of the 1924 law]. One thing that really surprised me in my research was how immigration has been driven by foreign policy concerns. So there are presidents who don`t want to offend other leaders by saying, “We don`t want people from your country.” The failure of the Hungarian revolt against Soviet control triggered an influx of refugees. The Eisenhower administration enforced a provision in the McCarran-Walter Immigration Act that allowed for the temporary entry of aliens under emergency conditions. Eisenhower used probation powers – the president`s power to take unilateral action in an emergency – contained in the Immigration Act to accommodate some thirty thousand Hungarian refugees. In 1960, more than two hundred thousand Hungarian immigrants were admitted to the country, and Eisenhower`s use of probation powers marked a precedent used in subsequent decades to grant asylum to tens of thousands of refugees from around the world in the United States. There were two main components of the Immigration Act of 1882.
The first was to create a “poll tax” to be imposed on certain immigrants entering the country. The Act states that “for any passenger who is not a citizen of the United States and who comes by steamboat or sailboat from a foreign port to a port of the United States, a tax of fifty cents shall be collected, collected, and paid.” This money would go to the U.S. Treasury Department and “form a fund called the Immigration Fund.” These funds would be used to “cover the costs of regulating immigration under this Act.” Scholar Roger Daniels commented that the poll tax would eventually “gradually increase to eight dollars in 1917. In most years, the government has collected more capitation taxes than it has spent on administration.  Americans encouraged relatively free and open immigration in the 18th and early 19th centuries and rarely challenged this policy until the late 1800s. After some states passed immigration laws after the Civil War, the Supreme Court declared immigration regulation a federal task in 1875. As the number of immigrants increased in the 1880s and economic conditions deteriorated in some areas, Congress began passing immigration laws. It`s kind of an incredible confluence of events. Shortly before President Kennedy`s death, he introduced a bill to abolish these ethnic quotas. This bill is going nowhere, just as any other effort has gone nowhere in 40 years. As usual, there is simply not much point in changing immigration quotas.
Celebrating “America as a nation of immigrants” is a surprisingly new idea. How did this idea develop and incorporate into the 1965 Act? President Biden sends a bill to Congress from day one to restore American humanity and values to our immigration system. The act offers people who work hard and enrich our communities every day and who have lived here for years, if not decades, the opportunity to become citizens. The legislation modernizes our immigration system and prioritizes keeping families together, growing our economy, managing the border responsibly through smart investments, addressing the root causes of migration from Central America, and ensuring the United States remains a safe haven for those fleeing persecution. The legislation will stimulate our economy while protecting every worker. The law creates a well-deserved path to citizenship for our immigrant neighbors, colleagues, community members, community leaders, friends and loved ones — including dreamers and important workers who risked their lives to serve and protect American communities. To focus on legal immigration channels, President George H.W. Bush Immigration Act of 1990, which expands the 1965 law to allow for an increase in the total number of immigrant visas issued. While family-based immigration remains a preferred category, priority is also given to highly skilled and educated workers. The law creates five categories of employment-based visas (EB), as well as the H1B temporary visa for foreigners with a university degree, and sets a cap on the number of unskilled workers who emigrate to the country.
The law also creates a diversity lottery to distribute visas to people from underrepresented countries. After the law is passed, the number of immigrant visas issued each year will increase from five hundred thousand to seven hundred thousand. The law is hailed by some as a realization of civil rights, as it fundamentally prohibits racial discrimination in immigration laws and abolishes these old ethnic quotas. But it really changes our whole idea of our neighbours and our relationship with them as sources of immigration. The restrictions imposed by the law have sparked a long struggle to reverse them, led by politicians denouncing the xenophobia of the law and presidents concerned about the consequences of these exclusions on foreign policy.