They needed to pass a medical exam, a test on their language skill and many others. Among the people who were turned away without exception were those deemed mentally deficient, admitted or suspected revolutionaries, and those who did not pay for their own passage (Anderson 28-29). In short, many immigrants felt that they were being inspected, manhandled, mistreated, and dealt with in a manner more befitting of animals than human beings.
The quota system that made this sort of treatment possible was eventually overturned in 1965. "Following the passage of the Immigration Act of 1965, which ended the National Origins System, a new wave of immigration began. Since 1970, more than three-quarters of legal immigrants have come from developing nations in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia." (Torr 71). This has often been regarded as the third wave of United States Immigration. This act sought to base whether or not an individual is allowed American citizenship upon three criteria:
1) the skills of the immigrant and their relationships to our needs; (2) the family relationship between immigrants and persons already here, so that the reuniting of families is encouraged; and (3) the priority of registration." (Torr 73).
With these policies in action, race is not formally an issue determining the admittance of immigrants, and the social benefit of granting these people citizenship is taken into account. Additionally, the overall annual limit of immigrants permitted entry into the U.S. was set at 270,000. This ushered in an increasing flood of Latin American immigrants entering the country both legally and illegally. The worries associated with illegal immigration contributed to further legislative decrees: "Fear that the United States had lost control of its southern border led to enactment of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986." (Andryszewski 43). This act offered penalties for employers who used illegal aliens as a labor force. Additionally, the law granted legal status to aliens who had entered the U.S. prior to 1982. The general aim of this act was to eliminate the opportunities for businesses to exploit alien labor by paying them far less than American citizens; thus depriving U.S. workers of jobs and unfairly manipulating the foreigners. Later, in 1990, Congress decided to up the number of immigrants admitted annually to 675,000 and they passed the family-unification provisions -- these helped family members of legal immigrants become citizens more readily.
Currently, America's immigration laws are attacked for being too lax on both legal and illegal aliens. One of the primary concerns involves the impending health care crisis in the United States; particularly, people lacking health insurance are draining the industry's ability to treat everyone and to fund new research.
Americans have been told repeatedly that some 30 to 40 million people in the country have no health insurance at any point in time. Typically, nobody seems to know how many are immigrants. But immigrants certainly make up a disproportionate share -- particularly of the real problem: the much smaller hard core, perhaps 6 million, that remains uninsured after two years." (Brimelow 7).
Similar problems are emerging in the United States educational system, in which it was estimated in 1990 that some five percent of children enrolled in American schools spoke either no English or very poor English (Brimelow 8). Essentially, many critics believe that the U.S. is suffering the consequences of the poor educational systems of third world countries. Accordingly, America is incurring additional costs to help immigrants catch up to our standards of learning.
Yet, proponents of the latest immigration laws hold to the premise that it is impossible to prevent immigrants from entering the U.S. through legal or illegal means. Therefore, legal methods of obtaining citizenship should be favored above all -- preventing the loss of jobs to immigrants willing to work below the minimum wage.
Another concern is associated with the emerging issue of world overpopulation. Nations just entering the industrial age are growing faster than ever, just as the U.S. And western Europe did over the past century. Moreover,
During the last half-century, world population has more than doubled, climbing from 2.5 billion in 1950 to 5.9 billion in 1998. Those of us born before 1950 are members of the first generation to witness a doubling of world population. Stated otherwise, there has been more growth in population since 1950 than during the 4 million preceding since our early ancestors first stood upright." (Brown 17).
Disproportionately, this growth is coming from underdeveloped nations -- nations whose citizens have become the dominant fraction of immigrants entering the United States. The strain these individuals are likely to put upon the U.S. economy is significant. However, there are no easy answers to solving the problem of population growth. Additionally, the worry of illegal aliens taking American jobs for less pay is gradually being replaced thanks to this swelling of population in third world countries. Corporations are now making it common practice to ship jobs overseas where they can find abundant workforces not protected by the American minimum wage.
Reactions to these developments have been in keeping with the history of American policy towards immigration. Substantial steps have been taken to stubbornly guard the borders immigrants from developing countries commonly cross. Furthermore, discrimination in housing has limited immigrants of certain origins to specified regions. Immigrants of this third wave of American immigration are experiencing many of the same troubles earlier immigrants faced, and are seen as the same impending threat to the American way of life as the Chinese were in over a century ago.
Anderson, Dale. Arriving at Ellis Island. Milwaukee: World Almanac Library, 2002.
Andryszewski, Tricia. Immigration: Newcomers and Their Impact on the United States. Brookfield: The Millbrook Press, 1995.