America's Heritage: A History of Immigration

America’s Heritage: A History of U.S. Immigration is a comprehensive look at the history of American immigration and the major laws that establish U.S. immigration policy.

America is a nation of immigrants. Throughout its history, the United States of America has been a beacon of freedom and tolerance for all people. American society is enriched by the unique cultural influences and traditions that immigrants bring to this land. Without recognizing the importance of these diverse perspectives, an integral part of America’s heritage is overlooked. Indeed, during many of the most prolific moments in America, the contributions of immigrants altered the course of our nation’s history.

The Illegal Immigrant Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996

The Illegal Immigrant Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) of 1996 imposed strict penalties against illegal immigration.

Columbus' Discovery

Caption: Mr. Nice Guy? Commissioned by Spain to find a direct sea route to the Far East, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus embarked on a voyage that he hoped would lead him to the exotic lands of Asia.

Displaced Persons Act of 1948

Refugees from countries ravaged by World War II were allowed into the United States, but their entry was charged to the national quota limits established in 1924.

Immigration Act of 1917

The Immigration Act of 1917 expanded the classes of foreigners excluded from the United States.

The Emergency Quota Act

In 1921, Congress established the first quota system for immigrants.

Erection of Jamestown

In 1607, English colonizers belonging to the Virginia Company of London erected Jamestown as a charter from the King of England.

The Foundation of New Plymouth Colony

In 1620, one of the sects of Puritans known as Brownists separated from the Protestant Church of England, and after much persecution, decided to immigrate to the “new world.”

The First Naturalization Act

In 1795, the first Naturalization Act was created to restrict citizenship to “free white persons” who resided in the United States and renounced their allegiance to their former country.

Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798

The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 authorized the president to expel any alien he deemed dangerous.

Passenger Vessels Regulation Act

Required masters of ships to file with the district collector of customs a manifest (or list) of all passengers who boarded at a foreign port.

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