1808: A federal law is imposed outlawing foreign slave trade in the U.S. The act prohibited the importation of slaves, mostly from Africa.
1882: The Chinese Exclusion Act was signed by President Chester A. Arthur, prohibiting all immigration of Chinese laborers.
1886: The Statue of Liberty unveils, as a gift of France to commemorate their alliance with The United States. The statue became a symbol of freedom, inviting immigration.
1910: The Mexican Revolution begins, moving thousands of Mexicans and immigrants to the United States-Mexico border.
1916: The Great Migration moves millions of African Americans out of the rural South to the urban North.
1917: The Immigration Act restricts immigration and denies entry to immigrants from the Asia-Pacific zone.
1934: Equal Nationality Act is passed, allowing "foreign-born children of American mothers and alien fathers who had entered America before the age of 18 and had lived in America for five years" to apply for American citizenship.
1942: Thousands of Japanese Americans are sent to Internment Camps during WWII.
1959: The Cuban Revolution led by Fidel Castro prompts mass migrations from Cuba.
1964: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is passed. The act establishes affirmative action programs, prohibiting "discrimination on the basis of gender, creed, race, or ethnic background to achieve equality of employment opportunities and remove barriers that have operated in the past" (Title VII).
2006: People around the country participated in immigration reform protests. The protests served as a turning point in Latino politics.
2017: President Trump signs executive orders to reduce illegal immigration and plans to build a border wall.
2020: The Black Lives Matter protests began after the murder of George Floyd.
2021: President Biden's administration ends Trump's Zero Tolerance Policy which prosecuted illegal immigrants and separated them from their children.
2021: After facing constant prejudice and discrimination, movements to Stop Asian Hate are being held around the country.
19th - 20th Century Immigrants (JS)
1790: Congress passes the first law about who should be granted U.S. citizenship. The Naturalization Act of 1790 allows any free white person of “good character,” who has been living in the United States for two years or longer to apply for citizenship. Without citizenship, nonwhite residents are denied basic constitutional protections, including the right to vote, own property, or testify in court.
1815: Peace is re-established between the United States and Britain after the War of 1812. Immigration from Western Europe turns from a trickle into a gush, which causes a shift in the demographics of the United States. In response, the United States passes the Steerage Act of 1819 requiring better conditions on ships arriving to the country.
1849: America’s first anti-immigrant political party, the Know-Nothing Party forms, as a backlash to the increasing number of German and Irish immigrants settling in the United States.
1875: Following the Civil War, some states passed their own immigration laws.
1882: The Chinese Exclusion Act passes, which bars Chinese immigrants from entering the U.S.
1891: The Immigration Act of 1891 further excludes who can enter the United States, barring the immigration of polygamists, people convicted of certain crimes, and the sick or diseased.
1892: Ellis Island, the United States’ first immigration station, opens in New York Harbor.
1924: The Immigration Act of 1924 limits the number of immigrants allowed into the United States yearly through nationality quotas.
1942: Labor shortages during World War II prompt the United States and Mexico to form the Bracero Program, which allows Mexican agricultural workers to enter the United States temporarily. The program lasts until 1964.
1986: President Ronald Reagan signs into law the Simpson-Mazzoli Act, which grants amnesty to more than 3 million immigrants living illegally in the United States.
2001: U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) propose the first Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which would provide a pathway to legal status for Dreamers, undocumented immigrants brought to the United States illegally by their parents as children.
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.
2017: President Donald Trump issues two executive orders—both titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”—aimed at curtailing travel and immigration from six majority Muslim countries (Chad, Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia) as well as North Korea and Venezuela. Both of these travel bans are challenged in state and federal courts.
2018: In April 2018, the travel restrictions on Chad are lifted.
2021: President Biden's administration ends Trump's Zero Tolerance Policy