U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Laws and Issues: A Documentary History

By Michael Lemay; Elliott Robert Barkan | Go to book overview

Preface

Immigration to the United States, which has long involved a truly significant mass movement of people, has profoundly shaped the economic, political, social, and cultural development of the nation, and in the process has had a lifelong impact on the immigrants themselves.

According to historian Erika Lee of the University of California at Berkeley ( 1998), beginning in the late nineteenth-century immigrants were "subjected to the jarring reality of immigration laws which 'sifted' and 'picked' the desirable from the undesirable." Since then, she contends, immigration to and immigrant life within the United States have become increasingly regulated by federal, state, and even local laws. Thus, if one wants to understand our nation's immigration history, it is essential that one examine the ways in which immigration and naturalization laws have shaped those complex processes.

Furthermore, to understand immigration policy fully, one must examine not only the laws passed by the Congress of the United States but also the judicial cases and administrative decisions that have implemented those immigration and naturalization laws. Immigration policy embraces a broad array of laws regulating myriad activities, including immigration with the aim of permanent residence, the admission of refugees and those seeking asylum, naturalization and citizenship policies, the deportation of those adjudged to be here illegally, and the procedures developed by various levels of government that influence such aspects of the immigrant's life as occupational and educational opportunities and access to various health and welfare benefit programs.

This volume presents the primary documents essential to examine and understand the immigration and naturalization policies of the United States from colonial times to the present. It contains the major laws, or key sections of virtually every major law, enacted by the federal govern

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