What is the Legislative Background of Asylum in the United States?

Written by: Emily Portalatin Munoz

This country has was build by immigrants (over the graves of the indigenous but that’s a topic for another day). We go into a little bit of history in my post The Process of seeking Asylum in the U.S but lets review anyway.

There were no law restricting immigration until the late 1800’s with the passing the Page Act of 1875 and the Chinese Exclusion act of 1882 (The Week, 2019). In the 1920 legislators passes a strict quota. The strict quotas left 300,000 people on a waiting list to get to the United States (The Week, 2019). The laws later changed after world war two when many people were displaced. This led to the first U.S. legislation that recognized asylum seekers. This legislation was the Displaced Persons Act of 1948. This act was signed into law by President Harry Truman and this law gave certain European refugees permanent residence. But this law had a limited time frame from 1948 and ended 1952.

In 1951 the UN defined a refugee as someone who “owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”

After 1975 there was a huge overhaul of cuban immigrants to the united states. Specifically 1980 during the Mariel boatlift around 125000 cuban refugees risk their lives trying to cross the ocean.

The next major immigration law was during the Regan administration. Ronald Regan passed the Simpson-Mazzoli Act into law in 1986. This gave amnesty to around 3 million immigrants living illegally in the united states.

In 2001 Senators Dick Durbin and Orrin Hatch propose a bill called Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act. This bill would have provided a pathway to legal status for Dreamers, undocumented immigrants brought to the United States illegally by their parents as children. But this bill did not pass.

In 2012 President Barack Obama signs Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) which temporarily shields some Dreamers from deportation, but doesn’t provide a path to citizenship. This executive order partly accomplished part of what the senators tried top accomplish with the dream act.

And in most recent times President Donald Trump sighed two executive orders dealing with immigration titled Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States. These executive order were quickly referred to as a muslim ban as they banned traveled from six majority muslim countries. In the second order they added North Korea and Venezuela.

Now that we have caught up to date on the history of the immigration places of the united states we need to continue. The legislative history is very important to this countries history because this is a country founded on immigrating to find a better life. For a country based on the American dream it only makes sense that people in here most dark times come to America to seek the very American dream everyone talks about.

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