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States issue[d] immigration visas to 2 percent of the total number of people of each nationality in the United States at the 1890 census.” As a result, illegal immigration to the U.S. began to increase. This led to the establishment of the Border Patrol in 1924, focusing specifically on immigrants crossing the Canadian and Mexican borders into the U.S. These quota systems were ended by two pieces of legislation later in the century: the McCarran-Walter Act of 1952 ended the exclusion of Asian immigrants, and the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 officially ended the quota system altogether.


CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICAN IMMIGRATION TO THE U.S.


As immigration to the United States from Mexico and other countries in Central and South America increased, so did the number of immigration policies directly related to those countries. Some were explicitly created to provide aid, such as the Simpson-Mazzoli Act, which granted amnesty to over three million undocumented immigrants living in the United States in 1986, directly targeting immigrants from Central and South America.


THE BRACERO PROGRAM


Perhaps the most notable and yet little-known examples of U.S.-Mexico immigration policy is the Bracero Program. The Bracero Program spawned from bilateral agreements between the U.S. and Mexico, which allowed Mexican men to work in the United States on short-term contracts, primarily performing agricultural labor. From 1942 to 1964, 4.6 million Bracero contracts were signed.


The Bracero Program was not readily accepted in its time because of many of the same concerns that pundits quote as being the reason people are wary of migrant workers today. According to the Bracero History Archive, “Mexican nationals, desperate for work, were willing to take arduous jobs at wages scorned by most Americans. Farmworkers


already living in the United States worried that Braceros would compete for jobs and lower wages. In theory, the Bracero Program had safeguards to protect both Mexican and domestic workers... [These included] for example, guaranteed payment of at least the prevailing area wage received by native workers; employment for three-fourths of the contract period; adequate, sanitary, and free housing; decent meals at reasonable prices; occupational insurance at employer's expense; and free transportation back to Mexico at the end of the contract.…In practice, they ignored many of these rules and Mexican and native workers suffered while growers benefited from plentiful, cheap, labor.”


IMMIGRATION POLICY IN THE 21ST CENTURY After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, U.S. immigration policy cracked down on immigration from the Middle East—according to a report in GSC Quarterly, “of the thirty-seven known U.S. government security initiatives implemented since the September 11th attacks, twenty-five either explicitly or implicitly target Arabs or Muslims.”


Also in 2001, Senators Dick Durbin and Orrin Hatch proposed the first iteration of the DREAM Act, allowing undocumented children brought to the U.S. by their parents a path to citizenship—which did not pass. In 2012, President Obama issued an executive order provided protections to these “Dreamers” by announcing DACA, which protects them from deportation, but does not provide a path to citizenship.


In 2017, President Trump issued two executive orders aimed at stopping immigration from six majority Muslim countries. These orders were challenged in both state and federal courts but were reissued in different versions. In 2018, the Supreme Court upheld a third version of the “travel ban” with limits to seven countries.•


A Bracero camp in California The John Spoor Broome Library


72 MILES TO GO... UPSTAGE GUIDE


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