Immigration and Naturalization in an Age of Globalization-- 1965 to 1996
Just as the quota approach to immigration and naturalization law reflected the racial ideas and concerns of that period, the new era ushered in with the Immigration Act of 1965 reflected the concerns of the civil rights era. The election of President John F. Kennedy in 1960 eased the way for a frontal attack on the quota system. While serving as U.S. senator, President Kennedy wrote A Nation of Immigrants ( 1958), in which he made obvious his favorable attitude toward more immigration. The civil rights movement was pushing the nation and its leadership, and indeed public opinion of the American population, to question and seriously reevaluate the racial bias of much of its laws. Immigration law did not escape that review. The post-World War II decades had chipped away at the quota system; the passage of special acts, nonquota immigration, and refugee-escapee enactments had all demonstrated that the national origin quota system was simply too inflexible and too biased to be continued.
The success of the first years of the Kennedy administration in basic economic policy, moreover, resulted in the ending of the recessions that had plagued much of the Eisenhower period and had worked to undercut opposition to immigration reform. The healthy economy of the early through mid-1960s enabled even organized labor to favor a more liberal immigration policy. By that time, the traditional supporters of the national origin quota system were unorganized and largely inactive. Senator Edward Kennedy, the youngest brother of the president, led the Senate forces seeking to change the law fundamentally. He met