History of Immigration

The U.S. immigration system is complex and can be difficult to understand. These resources provide key data points, historical information, and background on hot topics in immigration. Learn the basics about immigration.

Recent Features

All History of Immigration Content

May 27, 2020
This report identifies disruptions throughout the immigration system because of the COVID-19 pandemic and makes recommendations for improvements to the federal government’s response.
March 7, 2018
Enforcement of U.S. immigration laws has historically been guided by policies that emphasize prioritization. However, this practice has largely been abandoned since the inauguration of President...
August 10, 2016
Many people assume that their family immigrated to the United States legally, or did it “the right way.” In most cases, this statement does not reflect the fact that the U.S. immigration system was...
November 25, 2015
This report provides background on the refugee experience in the United States, including welcoming and exclusionary responses, the impacts of these disparate reactions, and lessons to consider in...
June 19, 2013
One of the themes that emerged from the Senate Judiciary Committee mark up of the 2013 Senate immigration bill was the necessity of avoiding the mistakes of the past. In the context of legalization...
April 29, 2013
Today in the United States, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Americans who fall in love with and marry foreign nationals are being asked to choose between country and spouse, country...
January 31, 2013
While there are many facets to an intelligent immigration reform package, one thing is clear: legalization for undocumented immigrants helps all of us. Most economists recognize that legalization...
January 13, 2012
The United States and the colonial society that preceded it were created by successive waves of immigration from all corners of the globe. But public and political attitudes towards immigrants have...
September 13, 2010
It’s hardly news that the complaints of our latter-day nativists and immigration restrictionists—from Sam Huntington to Rush Limbaugh, from FAIR to V-DARE—resonate with the nativist arguments of some...
March 30, 2020

We are in the midst of a crisis unlike any we’ve experienced in our lifetimes. We are scared and scrambling to protect ourselves and the ones that we love. This is normal and understandable....

February 24, 2020

After months in the courts, the Trump administration declared victory and began enforcing its new “public charge” rule. The rule goes into effect on Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, inside the United States...

December 9, 2019

If you have ever wanted to trace your family’s immigration history, you should do it now—accessing genealogical records from the 1800s and 1900s may soon become far more expensive than ever before...

October 21, 2019

The ideology of President Trump is about more than limiting how many immigrants enter the United States each year; it’s about turning back the clock on U.S. social history. A recent analysis by...

August 23, 2019

Short-term thinking is inferior to long-term thinking, some argue, because it does a disservice to the future and those who will live it.  Two long-term thinkers who have profoundly impacted U.S....

June 24, 2019

The American Immigration Council is proud to announce the winner of the 22nd Annual Celebrate America Fifth Grade Creative Writing Contest. The contest encourages educators to incorporate lessons...

May 8, 2019

Each new generation of immigrants to the United States has, in time, achieved a high degree of integration into U.S. society. Whether it was immigrants from southern and eastern Europe a century...

March 25, 2019

Over the past few months, a new trend has emerged at the U.S.-Mexico border: more families are crossing and presenting themselves to U.S. officials to ask for asylum. But even though the number of...

September 17, 2018

Each year on September 17, America marks Citizenship Day, an annual opportunity to reflect on the benefits and responsibilities of U.S. citizenship. In years past, it was used as a day to...

August 28, 2018

The United States Senate and Republican Party lost one of their biggest champions for bipartisan immigration reform and most vocal critics of President Trump’s immigration policies when Senator...

April 21, 2020
President Donald Trump announced his intention to temporarily suspend immigration to the United States in response to the coronavirus pandemic. A ban on all immigration would be an extraordinary move that flies in the face of our long history as a nation of immigrants.
October 30, 2018
President Donald Trump said yesterday in an interview that he plans to sign an executive order to eliminate birthright citizenship, a principle enshrined in the U.S. Constitution that grants citizenship to any person born within the territory of the United States.
May 27, 2020
This report identifies disruptions throughout the immigration system because of the COVID-19 pandemic and makes recommendations for improvements to the federal government’s response.
April 21, 2020
President Donald Trump announced his intention to temporarily suspend immigration to the United States in response to the coronavirus pandemic. A ban on all immigration would be an extraordinary move that flies in the face of our long history as a nation of immigrants.
March 30, 2020

We are in the midst of a crisis unlike any we’ve experienced in our lifetimes. We are scared and scrambling to protect ourselves and the ones that we love. This is normal and understandable....

February 24, 2020

After months in the courts, the Trump administration declared victory and began enforcing its new “public charge” rule. The rule goes into effect on Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, inside the United States...

December 9, 2019

If you have ever wanted to trace your family’s immigration history, you should do it now—accessing genealogical records from the 1800s and 1900s may soon become far more expensive than ever before...

October 21, 2019

The ideology of President Trump is about more than limiting how many immigrants enter the United States each year; it’s about turning back the clock on U.S. social history. A recent analysis by...

August 23, 2019

Short-term thinking is inferior to long-term thinking, some argue, because it does a disservice to the future and those who will live it.  Two long-term thinkers who have profoundly impacted U.S....

June 24, 2019

The American Immigration Council is proud to announce the winner of the 22nd Annual Celebrate America Fifth Grade Creative Writing Contest. The contest encourages educators to incorporate lessons...

May 8, 2019

Each new generation of immigrants to the United States has, in time, achieved a high degree of integration into U.S. society. Whether it was immigrants from southern and eastern Europe a century...

March 25, 2019

Over the past few months, a new trend has emerged at the U.S.-Mexico border: more families are crossing and presenting themselves to U.S. officials to ask for asylum. But even though the number of...

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