U.S. has long history of immigration concern

Bob NcNamara, Upham

Ellis Island opened in 1892. However, immigration had been with us long before that. It was in 1917 that the Immigration Act of 1917 was passed which limited immigration from most Asian countries. Immigration was again addressed in the 1924 Immigration Act which put quotas from countries and just about eliminated immigration from Asian countries.

Coincidentally, the first mention of illegal immigration occurs in 1924 and the border patrol is established to crack down on illegal immigrants crossing the Mexican and Canadian borders. Think about that — 100 years ago we start hearing of illegal immigration across those borders. It isn’t a new thing.

But what has our Congress done since? There were various attempts to address the issues but pretty much nothing has been done to fix the problem as we still have the same issues. After WWII they passed a refugee act to deal with refugees from the war. I suppose that was a good thing. And in 1952 the McCarron Act ended the exclusion of Asians. Again, probably another good thing. Then, in addition to illegals coming in we let in over 3 million refugees during the Cold War and then we had that secret program where we brought 14,000 Cuban children to the US who fled the Castro regime. We did those things on purpose.

But it wasn’t until 1965 that we had an actual immigration overhaul when Lyndon Johnson signed the Immigration and Nationality Act. At that point immigration from war-torn Asia (think Vietnam and Cambodia) quadrupled into the US. In 1980 we had another 125,000 refugees fleeing Cuba come in. In 1986 Republican President Ronald Reagan signed the Simpson-Mazzoli Act (a republican and a democrat) which granted amnesty to more than 3 million immigrants living illegally in the United States. Yes, in 1986 the Congress and President Ronald Reagan granted amnesty to illegal immigrants.

Since then? In 2001 D-Durbin and R-Hatch proposed the first DREAM Act to provide legal status, not citizenship, to children of illegal immigrants who were brought to the US. That failed and again in 2012 Barack Obama tried to revive that but it failed again.

Just about forty years and whatever feeble attempts by the Congress of the Unites States to address immigration resulted in zilch.

A couple thoughts. The records show we have had illegal immigration since 1924. That is 100 years. Records show the immigration program in the US has wild swings from banning a nationality to then allowing those to banning other nationalities before allowing those and then banning others. Strictly based on nationality. The last time Congress passed laws to reform immigration in this country it was signed in 1965 by Lyndon Johnson. Just about 60 years ago. I remember Lyndon Johnson but how many in this country were around for Lyndon Johnson. That was a hell of a long time ago.

Maybe, just maybe, the Congress can be adults, put aside the petty and asinine ‘investigations’ of the other party and do their job. If we have immigration problems in this country it lies at the feet of the Congress because the Congress cannot come together to make bipartisan reform. Illegal immigration isn’t solved at the White House. it is solved at the Capitol. It isn’t solved by executive order. It is solved by codified law. The ND delegations of the last forty years are right in the “‘failure to do your job” mix. Remember that when you vote.


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