The United States of America is a nation founded by immigrants. Since its formation, the country has attracted millions of immigrants from all over the world. The Immigrant and Nationality Act (INA) is one of the most important laws governing the entry and presence of foreign nationals in the United States. The act was established in 1952 and has undergone several amendments since then. This article aims to provide an in-depth analysis of the Immigration and Nationality Act, including its history, key provisions, and its impact on immigration policy in the United States.
History of the Immigration and Nationality Act
The Immigration and Nationality Act is the culmination of several immigration laws that were enacted by the US government over the years. The first immigration law enacted by the federal government was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. This act was designed to restrict Chinese immigrants from entering the United States. The act was followed by other laws such as the Immigration Act of 1917, which established literacy tests for immigrants and banned immigrants from certain countries.
However, it was not until the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 that a comprehensive immigration law was enacted. This law abolished the national origins quota system that was established in 1924 and was based on the country of origin of the immigrant. The law also established a preference system that prioritized family reunification, economic needs, and skills of immigrants.
The act has undergone several amendments since then, including the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002, and the REAL ID Act of 2005, among others.
Key Provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act
The Immigration and Nationality Act outlines the procedures for immigration to the United States, including the types of visas available, the eligibility criteria for obtaining a visa, the procedures for applying for a visa, and the grounds for inadmissibility and removal.
The Act provides for two main categories of visas: immigrant visas and non-immigrant visas. Immigrant visas are designed for foreign nationals who intend to live permanently in the United States. Non-immigrant visas are for foreign nationals who intend to visit or work temporarily in the United States.
The eligibility criteria for obtaining a visa vary depending on the type of visa. The requirements for an immigrant visa include sponsorship by a US citizen, lawful permanent resident or US employer, family reunification, and certain skills or qualifications. The requirements for a non-immigrant visa include a valid purpose for visiting or working in the United States, sufficient funds to support oneself during the stay, and a willingness to depart the United States at the end of the authorized period of stay.
The procedures for applying for a visa include submitting an application to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), attending an interview at a US embassy or consulate, and providing supporting documentation such as a passport, medical examination, and police clearance certificate, among others.
Inadmissibility and Removal
The Immigration and Nationality Act lists several grounds for inadmissibility and removal. These include criminal convictions, health issues, security concerns, misrepresentation or fraud, and public charge.
A foreign national can be denied admission to the United States if they have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude, controlled substances, or domestic violence. Additionally, a foreign national can be removed from the United States for committing crimes, violating terms of their visa, engaging in activities that threaten national security, or overstaying their authorized period of stay.
Impact of Immigration and Nationality Act on Immigration Policy
The Immigration and Nationality Act has had a significant impact on immigration policy in the United States. One of the most significant impacts of the act has been the shift towards family reunification, economic needs, and skills-based immigration.
Family reunification has been one of the top priorities of US immigration policy since the Immigration and Nationality Act was established. The act provides for immigrant visas for immediate relatives of US citizens and lawful permanent residents. This has led to a significant increase in the number of family-based visas issued each year.
The act has also prioritized economic needs and skills-based immigration. The preference system established by the act provides for immigrant visas for individuals with certain skills or qualifications deemed necessary for the US economy. This has led to an increase in the number of employment-based visas issued each year.
The act has also had an impact on immigration enforcement and border security. The act provides for the inadmissibility and removal of foreign nationals who pose a threat to US security, have health issues, or have committed crimes. This has led to a significant increase in the number of deportations each year.
Finally, the act has had a significant impact on the political debate surrounding immigration policy in the United States. The act has been the subject of several heated debates, with some advocating for stricter immigration policies and others advocating for more lenient policies.
The Immigration and Nationality Act is a critical piece of legislation governing immigration to the United States. The act outlines the procedures for immigration, including the types of visas available, the eligibility criteria for obtaining a visa, the procedures for applying for a visa, and the grounds for inadmissibility and removal.
The act has had a significant impact on immigration policy in the United States, particularly in the areas of family reunification, economic needs, and skills-based immigration. The act has also had an impact on immigration enforcement and border security and has been a subject of political debate.
Overall, the Immigration and Nationality Act is a vital piece of legislation that continues to shape immigration policy in the United States. As immigration continues to be a hot-button issue in the United States, it is likely that the act will continue to undergo amendments and revisions to reflect the changing political and economic landscape of the country.
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The Immigration and Nationality Act in the United States
The Immigration and Nationality Act, often referred to as the INA, is a federal law and a basic act of immigration law. Prior to the Immigration and Nationality Act, there were a variety of different statutes which governed immigration law but were not consolidated in one location.
The Immigration and Nationality Act is divided into different titles, chapters, and sections. While the Immigration and Nationality Act stands alone as a separate body of law, it is also found in the United States Code. The different sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act can be found by using its U.S. Code citation, or the INA citation.
Today, the Immigration and Nationality Act governs almost all immigration issues. The Act prohibits employers from hiring undocumented workers knowingly and also requires employers to verify the identity and work eligibility of their employees as stated on the IRS Form I-9. Additionally, the act prohibits job discrimination on the grounds of immigration status.
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952
The Immigration and Nationality Act 1952 is also called the McCarran-Walter Act, was the first act which consolidated immigration law into one body.
President Truman was concerned about the Immigration and Nationality Act due to decisions to keep the quota system for national origins and to create quotas for Asian countries based on race. The president vetoed the act because he felt the bill was discriminatory. However, his veto was overridden by Congress with a vote in the House of 278 to 113 and a vote of 57 to 26 in the Senate.
Many of the earlier immigration policies were incorporated into this act. However, there were also many new policy changes including:
Eliminating gender discrimination and racial restrictions.
Readjusting the quota formula used to restrict immigrants from certain countries.
Creating selective immigration to aliens with certain skills and family members of American citizens and alien residents through quota preferences.
Creating a reporting system for United States aliens to report their current residence to the INS annually.
Creating a central index of aliens for use by enforcement and security agencies.
Allowing the government to deport naturalized citizens or immigrants who engaged in subversive activities.
Restricting suspected subversives individuals from entering the United States.
Expanding the United States to include Puerto Rick, Guam, and the Virgin Islands.
Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments of 1965
The Immigration and Nationality Act 1952 Act was amended many times, but the biggest changes were made with the amendments in 1965.
Major amendments to the Immigration and Nationality Act included the following:
Eliminating the quota based on national origins as well as the race, ancestry, or national origin as a foundation for United States immigration.
Created a preference for individuals with special occupational training, skills, or abilities as well as for those who were relatives of American citizens or permanent residents.
Established two different categories of individuals (immediate relatives of American citizens and special immigrants) who were not subject to numerical restrictions.
Kept the quota restriction but expanded the limits globally by limiting immigration from the Eastern Hemisphere and for the first time setting a ceiling on immigration from the Western Hemisphere. Neither the 20,000 per-country rule nor the preference categories were applicable to the Western Hemisphere.
Created a prerequisite visa issuance where an alien worker could not replace a worker within the United States nor affect the working conditions or wages adversely of those similarly employed in the United States.
Congress passed this amendment with a 326 to 69 vote in the House and a vote of 76 to 18 in the Senate. The bill was signed into legislation by President Lyndon B. Johnson July 1, 1968.
How the Immigration and Nationality Act Affects Employment
The Immigration and Nationality Act makes it illegal for an employer to hire individuals who are not authorized to work in the United States knowingly. The act also requires employers to look over documents and to confirm the identities and work eligibility of potential employees. Employers can hire individuals whose documents prove both identity as well as work authorization. Many different combinations of documents are acceptable as long as they all seem to be genuine documents.
Another policy of the act states that employers must treat all employees and applicants equally, regardless of status. Employers cannot discriminate during the hiring, referring, recruiting, or firing process. They are also not allowed to retaliate against individuals or employees who have participated in an investigation against the employer for discrimination or against those who have filed a charge for discrimination. Immigration-related employment discrimination includes being discriminated based on citizenship status, national origin discrimination, nationality, birth origin, accent, language, or appearance.
If an employer fails to verify the employment eligibility and identity of his or her employees, the employer is subject to punishment by fine. The United States Congress established the Office of Special Counsel to handle unfair employment practices based on immigration. Specifically, they enforce the policies of the act and also educate the public regarding employment discrimination related to immigration status.
Since 1987, the Office of Special Counsel has received over 6,000 different charges of discrimination that involve either citizenship status or national origin. Since this time, the agency has also collected nearly $2 million in the form of back pay to compensate those victims of employment discrimination. They have also assessed over $1.3 million for violations of the antidiscrimination provisions of the act through civil penalties. The Office of Special Counsel serves all American citizens, permanent residents, asylees, and refugees. Many of the individuals being serviced are from Asia or Latin America, whether native-born American citizens or newcomers.