United States Immigration Policy: A Decades-Old Conundrum

United States Immigration Policy: A Decades-Old Conundrum

Authored by Casey L. Stiller

This scanned excerpt, written by Charles B. Keely and included in Mary M. Kritz’s U.S. Immigration and Refugee Policy, describes the challenges faced in changing United States immigration policy. Keely gives a brief overview of the current immigration climate within the United States in the early 1980’s.

There have been three major migration periods in the United States in the last century: a largely laissez faire outlook in the 1930s; the Bracero Program, in effect during and after World War II; and, following the elimination of the Bracero Program, passage of major immigration laws in 1965 (Rosenblum and Brick 2011, 1). The Bracero Program was a formal agreement signed between the United States and Mexico in 1942, establishing “a migrant guest worker program,” which had favorable conditions for Mexican immigrants (Rosenblum and Brick 2011, 4). The Bracero Program experienced significant pushback, and upon its expiration in 1964, was followed instead by the Immigration and Nationality Act in 1965, which established per-country caps and a tiered preference system for rationing visas within a country (Rosenblum and Brick 2011, 5). 

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The Historical Context of the Explanation of Section 10 of H.R. 14831

Authored by Darian Donachie

The Explanation of Section 10 of H.R. 14831 is part of the CMS.105, Arthur P. (“Skip”) Endres Papers, 1960-1980s collection at the Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS-NY)

President Lyndon B. Johnson authorized the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) on October 3, 1965, during the mid-Cold War period (Kennedy 2019). The INA changed America’s formerly biased policy to reunite immigrant families as well as encourage skilled workers from other countries to establish a new life in the United States (History 2019). As a result, immigration to the United States soared throughout the 1960s and 1970s as people sought to start a new life free from “poverty or the hardships of communist regimes in Cuba, Eastern Europe, and elsewhere” (History 2019, under “Immediate Impact”). The number of immigrants from Asian countries to the United States was considerably high on account that they were now allowed to migrate to the United States; moreover, many of these immigrants sought to relocate to the United States from “war-torn Southeast Asia” (History 2019, under “Immediate Impact”).

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Father Lydio F. Tomasi’s Contributions to Worldwide Refugees in the 1980s

Authored by Sonia Lau

This letter is written to Father Lydio Tomasi on January 19,1983 from Eugene F. Higgins thanking him for his contributions and insights regarding refugee situations that is happening around the world during the 1980s. It is part of the Directors’ Files of CMS Collection #084A, Box 4, Folder 41.

Immigration has had an enormous role in shaping the United States as a nation. There are many reasons for one to immigrate and such decisions are major and life-changing. Conflicts between nations, as well as economic turmoil, displace millions of people all over the world. What happens when the people are forced to flee their homelands to escape and seek refuge in another nation? Thus, immigration becomes an essential topic for understanding and discussion. With such need, people like Father Lydio F. Tomasi, along with a few of his community of Catholic priests, nuns, and laypeople founded the Center for Migration Studies. Continue reading

The Positive Impact of Amnesty from the Immigration Reform and Control Act

Authored by Cecilia Wang

The letter was written by Romano L. Mazzoli in Washington, D.C.,1983. He appreciated that Lydio F. Tomasi wrote an excellent editorial in Migration Today, reflecting the balance of two provisions in Immigration and Reform Act of 1983. Mazzoli was one of the cosponsors of the IRCA, and the U.S. House of Representatives from Kentucky. This correspondence letter is part of the CMS Directors’ documents, which can be found in the CMS collection #084A; Box 4; Folder 41.

Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA, or the Simpson–Mazzoli Act) had been introduced to the Senate since 1981. However, it took five years of debates until it was passed by the U.S. Congress. It was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on November 6, 1986. The IRCA has two major provisions that are of focus. Firstly, it established penalties for employers who hire undocumented immigrants. Second, it addressed legalized undocumented immigrants who had arrived in the country before January 1, 1982. By far, the IRCA has granted the largest scale of amnesty in U.S. history, since almost three million undocumented immigrants benefited from the legalization program.

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Immigration Reform: Not a 21st Century Idea

Taken during a meeting between President John F. Kennedy and the American Committee for Italian Migration (ACIM) on October 12, 1963. During this meeting, President Kennedy promised to send his proposals on immigration reform to congress.

Authored by Coreen Getgen

Immigration has been one of the hottest topics in recent politics. As a nation, we have treated this topic as something that is new and radical. In all actuality, immigration and immigration reform have been major political topics for much longer than the past few years. Continue reading

I Nostri Bambini: A Glimpse at the Work of the Italian Welfare League

Authored by Maxwell Schafer

A bright pink flier announcing a gala luncheon and fashion show to be held by the Italian Welfare League. Featured "Man of the Year" is Rudolph Giuliani, and "Woman of the Year" is Susan Lucci. Honoring Aprile Millo.
Image of a flier for a gala luncheon and fashion show hosted by the Italian Welfare League to raise funds for their work. Published in 1989.

In the summer of 1929, Mrs. Giustina Micono and her son arrived at Ellis Island from their home in Naples, Italy (“Death” 1929). Her husband had made a similar trip six years before, saving money to eventually send for them, but perished tragically while constructing a skyscraper just one day after the ship his family was aboard departed for America. Without money or a husband with a job, Mrs. Micono faced almost immediate deportation, but was saved by the Italian Welfare League, which fought on her behalf to be allowed entry, and won.

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Lasagna Dinner: From Tradition to Community

Authored by Victor Otero

Taken during the first Lasagna Dinner, a Holy Rosary annual fundraiser, this photograph shows the parish women who came up with the idea, left to right: Pat Bennet, Mary R. Catucci, Eleanor Eisman, Anita Segreti, Mary G., and Rosalie Pappano.

Italian immigrants into the United States represented ethnic/regional and job entitlements. The immigrants originated from different parts of Italy and worked in specific fields and job titles in the native nation. During the period from 1880 to 1915, millions of Italians migrated out of Italy into the US. While in America, the immigrants faced numerous challenges. The immigrants did not understand the English language and had little formal education; therefore, they were forced to take low wage manual labor jobs (Connell 2019). As a result, they were often taken advantage of by the intermediaries who served as go-betweens between them and the potential bosses. Most Italians saw the US as a place that could offer jobs that the unskilled and uneducated Italians peasants like they could do. 

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A Postcard of Praise

Authored by Sean Sorahan

Garner J. Cline (1974, July 27th)” Postcard of Constituency
Correspondence Regarding President Nixon”, Cline Collection,
Box 35 of 51, Center for Migration Studies, New York, NY.

There have been several instances of impeachment charges against Presidents in office. On February 24, 1868, President Andrew Johnson was impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors by Congress (Trefousse 1997). However, he escaped removal of office by the Senate on May 26, 1868 (Trefousse 1997). Continue reading

L’Archivio del Commissariato Generale dell’Emigrazione (Part II)

Authored by Michael Tomaselli

Figure 1 “Archive of the General Commission of Immigration (Part 2) and the General Directorate of Foreign Italians” – Finding Aid, Center of Migration Studies of New York, CMS.034

The Commissariato Generale dell’Emigratione (General Commission of Immigration) was founded on the 10th of January 1901(“Storiadigitale Zanichelli Percorso Site,” n.d.). The goal, in conjunction with the Direzione Generale degli Italiani all’Estero (General Directorate of Foreign Italians was to regulate the transmission of ideas into the country that might destabilize the regime and to protect citizens abroad. With Italian Unification ending in 1870, the Italian regime had to use every possible way to control its citizens in this nebulous time. Italy saw the world changing. Connections were being made faster than neurons firing. However, Italy saw the misfires as well. Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels wrote The Communist Manifesto in 1884, ending with the line, “Workers of the World, Unite,” while witnessing the wildfire of social revolutions and reforms take shape across Europe(Marx, Engels, and Toews 1999, 96). Regimes fell, splintered, and reformed; and Italy was determined not to succumb. In order to do this, the government tried to barricade against the rising tide of the social agenda. Continue reading

The Second Anniversary Banquet Commemorating the Enactment of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952

Authored by Laura A. Andrews

Program for the “Second Anniversary Banquet” commemorating the McCarran-Walter Act which honored newly naturalized Issei -American citizens of Washington D.C.

On Sunday, June 27, 1954 the Japanese American Citizens League in Washington D.C., held a banquet honoring newly naturalized Issei citizens. The event was held at the Sheraton Park hotel and commemorated the second anniversary of the Immigration and Nationality act of 1952. Better known as the McCarran-Walter act, the night featured speeches by its authors, Pat McCarran and Frances Walter.On the surface, this program may look like an ordinary event. However, in the context of its time, this banquet honoring these new American citizens was quite significant. The journey to this point, for those honored at this event was not an easy one, as the Japanese overcame many hardships to become American citizens. Continue reading