CURRENT IMMIGRATION TO THE UNITED STATES

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1 Recent Immigration 1. Limiting Immigration: a : WWI i. Strong anti-immigrant feelings ii. Literacy tests required in 1917 b. 1924: National Origins Act i. law that discriminated against S. & E. Europe. ii. Limited new immigrants to 2% of the number who were already here (ie. If there are 10,000 Irish immigrants here, only 200 new Irish could come). iii. Prevented immigrants from new countries from coming over. c. 1925: KKK membership reaches 5 million i. Did not just discriminate against African-Americans. Targeted immigrants and non- Protestants (ie. Catholics, Jews, etc.) d. 1948: Displaced Persons Act i. Allowed homeless of WWII to immigrate to U.S. 2. Reforming Immigration Law: 1960s a. 1960s: quotas questioned; are they fair? b. 1965: Immigration Act i. Set annual limits for ALL countries to make laws fair. 3. Refugees Increase: 1965-Today a. Refugee: Someone who flees a country because of persecution or fear of it b Refugee Act: President can admit refugees in an emergency i. Refugee status is temporary, and refugees are supposed to return home once the situation in their home country improves. 4. Illegal Immigration Increases: 1965-Today a. Illegal Immigrants: enter the U.S. w/o government approval i. i.e. Mexicans crossing the border b. 1986: Immigration Reform and Control Act i. Penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants; had little impact c. 1996: Immigration Act i. doubled border control forces and added fences d. 2003: Department of Homeland Security i. Created in response to 9/11 ii. Now controls all immigration and immigration issues for the US.

2 CURRENT IMMIGRATION TO THE UNITED STATES Despite being known as the land of immigrants, it is not easy to immigrate to the United States today. Many more people want to come to the United States than is allowed. Security is very tight and officials are very careful when deciding who can enter the United States, especially after 9/11. The Department of Homeland Security currently regulates immigration, and immigration laws continue to be a hot issue in our government. 675,000 LIMIT Every year, the U.S. allows 675,000 legal immigrants into our country. These immigrants are allowed to enter through traditional methods. Usually, they want to immigrate to join family members already here or to find jobs. When they apply to immigrate to the U.S., they are either accepted, denied, or put on a waiting list. Sometimes immigrants may have to wait 10 years for their turn to come to the United States. In order to become a legal immigrant, a person must go through a very long application process. Preference is given to people who have relatives in the United States already or who have job skills that would benefit our country. For instance, if your spouse is a citizen of the United States, or if you have an advanced degree in a specialized field of employment, you could be put at the top of the list to immigrate to the United States. Once you have been in the United States as a legal, permanent resident for five years, you may apply to become a citizen (also known as naturalized ). EXCEPTIONS TO THE LIMIT However, many more than 675,000 legal immigrants are actually allowed into the U.S. each year. The additional immigrants allowed in legally are considered refugees (or asylees ). Refugees are people who apply to come to the United States because of persecution or danger in their homeland. For instance, a war or an earthquake in the homeland may qualify a person as a refugee. These immigrants are considered exceptions to the 675,000 limit. There is no limit to how many refugees the U.S. will allow each year. Refugees are considered legal immigrants. They may also go through the naturalization (citizenship) process after being here five years. STILL MORE COME Still more people immigrate to the United States every year, although not legally. They are neither traditional legal immigrants nor refugees; these are undocumented immigrants, or illegal immigrants. Most illegal immigrants cross our borders looking for work. They often come from poor, overpopulated countries where jobs are scarce and pay is low. Many feel they cannot wait on a list for 10 years to come here legally and take great risks to enter the United States without legal documents. In recent years, the federal government has wrestled with the problem of illegal immigration, offering solutions from tightening the security around our borders to keep them out, to allowing illegal immigrants to work here legally for a limited amount of time. It is estimated that there are currently 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States.

3 GLOSSARY OF IMMIGRATION TERMS Alien: someone in the U.S. (legally or illegally) who is not a U.S. citizen. Customs and Border Protection or CBP: The division of the Department of Homeland Security which patrols the U.S. borders. Department of Homeland Security: or DHS, a Department which was newly created in 2003 primarily to deal with the threat of terrorism. DHS now controls immigration as well. Deportation/Removal: removal, also called deportation, is a legal proceeding through which immigration officials seek to remove an illegal immigrant from the U.S. Diversity Visa Lottery: an annual lottery through which people from countries considered underrepresented in the U.S. can apply for an immigrant visa (legal permanent residence) in the U.S. Family preference system: system of immigration where people may be sponsored for immigration by a qualifying U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident family member. Green Card: this is the informal term for an alien registration card, which proves that its holder has legal permanent resident status. Legal permanent resident: person who has permission to live in the U.S. permanently and eventually apply to naturalize as a citizen. Naturalization: the process of applying for and obtaining U.S. citizenship. Only legal permanent residents may apply to naturalize, and generally only after they have held their green card for five years (spouses of U.S. citizens may apply earlier). Refugee: a person who applies to come to the United States because of persecution or danger in their home country. Temporary Protected Status: or TPS, is a blanket, temporary legal immigration status given to people of certain countries which have undergone a natural disaster (such as an earthquake) or other country-wide problems (such as civil war.) The status is good for one year. Undocumented: the term used to immigrants who are present in the U.S. illegally. The term can refer to those who entered the U.S. without inspection (by crossing the border), those who overstayed their allotted time here, or those who violated the terms of their legal status. Visa: a visa is a legal document that permits its holder to seek entry into the United States on either a temporary or a permanent basis. C T S H E E T

4 Basic Facts on Legal Immigration NCLR NATIONAL COUNCIL OF LA RAZA w w w. n c l r. o r g Terms Visa: a document which permits its holder to seek entry into the United States Permanent Resident: gives immigrants the right to remain in the United States permanently and eventually apply for citizenship Green Card: informal term for a Permanent Resident Card; gives proof that its holder lefal permanent resident status and may work in the United States Legal Immigration The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the main body of law governing U.S. immigration policy, provides for a permanent annual worldwide level of 675,000 legal permanent visas each year. A separate number of visas for refugees is determined through a consultation process between Congress and the Executive Branch. In general, about 1 million immigrants are allowed LEGALLY into this country each year. Since the mid-20th century U.S. permanent immigration policy has been based on three general ideas: humanitarian relief, employment-based immigration, and family-based immigration. In addition, a small number of visas are given through a diversity visa lottery system, which allows immigrants who otherwise wouldn t qualify apply to come to the United States. Family Immigration Close relatives of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents can apply to rejoin their family members in the U.S. There are 480,000 visas available each year for family-based immigration, which are allocated based on complicated calculations. Family based immigrants are admitted to the U.S. either as immediate relatives of U.S. citizens or through the family preference system. There is no cap on the number of visas available each year for immediate relatives. Immediate relatives are: Spouses of U.S. citizens Unmarried minor children of U.S. citizens (under 21 years old) Parents of U.S. citizens There are a limited number of visas available every year under the family preference system. See below. Employment-Based Immigration Current U.S. immigration law allows people who have skills and talents needed in the U.S. to be admitted to work on a permanent basis. There are five basic types of permanent business immigrant visas. These categories are created by Congress and have annual limits; a total of 140,000 permanent employment-based visas are available each year. These immigrants become permanent residents and receive green cards. Employment-based immigrants are usually sponsored by U.S. employers who demonstrate a need for a foreign worker. See chart on flip side.

5 Humanitarian Relief Each year the U.S. provides protection within U.S. borders to a certain number of persons who are fleeing persecution in their homeland. A refugee applies for protection while still outside the U.S., while an asylee first comes to the U.S. and applies for protection here. Refugees and asylees must prove that they have a "well-founded fear of persecution" based on their race, religion, membership in a social group, political opinion, or national origin. In addition, refugees must fit into one of a set of priority categories, based on the degree of risk to the refugee s life, membership in certain groups of special concern to the U.S., and the existence of family members in the U.S. The number of refugees accepted each year is determined by the President in consultation with Congress. In 2004, for example, up to 70,000 refugees were permitted to enter the U.S. These numerical limits are ceilings, meaning that fewer refugees may actually be admitted in any particular year. These refugee numbers are allocated among five regions of the world; for 2004 the regional allocations were: Africa: 25,000 Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Union: 13,000 East Asia: 6,500 Near East/South Asia: 2,000 Latin America and the Caribbean: 3,500 Unallocated reserve: 20,000 Total: 70,000 Diversity Visa Lottery If a potential immigrant does not qualify under any of the above categories, he or she can apply to the diversity visa lottery IF their home country is considered under-represented in the U.S. Applicants for Diversity Visa are chosen by a computer-generated random lottery drawing. The U.S. government makes available 50,000 permanent residence visas each year for this program. Application to this program is open for all individuals worldwide that fulfill the two basic entry requirements. Diversity visa immigrants must have a high school education or its equivalent or a minimum of two years experience working in a profession requiring two years of training or experience. The visas are distributed among six geographic regions with a greater number of visas going to regions with lower rates of immigration, and with no visas going to citizens of countries sending more than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. in the past five years. Within each region, no one country may receive more than seven percent of the available Diversity Visas in any one year. Countries that could not participate in previous year's Lottery: Anguilla Dominican Republic Montserrat Turks and Caicos Islands Bermuda El Salvador Pakistan United Kingdom Brazil Falkland Islands Peru United States British Virgin Islands Gibraltar Philippines Vietnam Canada Haiti Pitcairn Cayman Islands India Poland China mainland Jamaica South Korea Colombia Mexico St. Helena

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