The Naturalization Act of 1790
The original United States Naturalization Law of March 26, 1790 (1 Stat. 103) provided the first rules to be followed by the United States in the granting of national citizenship. This law limited naturalization to immigrants who were "free white persons" of "good character". It thus excluded American Indians, indentured servants, slaves, free blacks, and Asians. It also provided for citizenship for the children of U.S. citizens born abroad, but specified that the right of citizenship did "not descend to persons whose fathers have never been resident in the United States".
Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952
The Immigration and Nationality Act, or INA, was created in 1952. Before the INA, a variety of statutes governed immigration law but were not organized in one location. The McCarran-Walter bill of 1952, Public Law No. 82-414, collected and codified many existing provisions and reorganized the structure of immigration law. The Act has been amended many times over the years, but is still the basic body of immigration law.
Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965
This was a revision of the previous act in 1952. It eliminated the racial quota system that had been in place since the 1920s and replaced it with a system that focused on a prospective immigrant's skills and family relationships within the United States.
Refugee Act of 1980
This act revised the procedure for the admission of refugees and created a uniform system for the provision of assistance to refugees. It also raised the yearly limit from 17,400 to 50,000 refugees who could acquire entry into the country.
Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986
This act largely dealt with the employment of immigrants. It required employers to attest to their employees' immigration status and made it illegal to knowingly employ undocumented immigrants.
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
Created special deportation procedures for terrorists.
Title 8 of the United States Code contains the current statutes dealing with the role of aliens and nationality and provides the statutory framework for immigration law.
After regulations are published in the Federal Register, they are collected and published in the Code of Federal Regulations, commonly referred to as the CFR. The CFR is arranged by subject title and generally parallels the structure of the United States Code. Thus, Title 8 of the CFR deals with "Aliens and Nationality", as does Title 8 of the U.S. Code.
Heafey Law Library Research Team