The United States immigration laws: history of a nation set up by migrants


  • Federico Bonomi University of Oxford (England)


Immigration; Naturalization; Nativism; Interests; Legislation.


The purpose of my paper is to consider a set of policies concerning flows adjustment and naturalization of inmigrants. The starting point of my analysis is the Naturalization Act of 1790, the first inmigration law of US government, which inspires the subsequent ones. I have conduced a more detailed investigation into federal measures since 1882, the year of Chinese Exclusion Act, passing through the legislation of the period between 1920 and 1930, influenced by a marked protectionism, to arrive to the acts of 1965, which dismantled the system of national quotas. The goal of my work is to highlight the relationship between the laws and the debated that has been created around them, which involves congress, public opinion, trade unions and asociations.


Keywords: Immigration; Naturalization; Nativism; Interests; Legislation.



Allerfeldt, Kristofer. “‘And We Got Here First’: Albert Johnson, National Origins and Self-Interest in the Immigration Debate of the 1920s.” Journal of Contemporary History 45.1 (2010): 7-26.

Anbinder, Tyler. Nativism and Slavery: the Northern Know Nothings and the Politics of the 1850's. New York, 1992.

Bates, Cassandra. “Angell Treaty.” The Yung Wing Project (2006)

Bates, Cassandra. “Chinese Exclusion Act.” The Yung Wing Project (2006)

Bennett, Marion T. “The Immigration and Nationality (McCarran-Walter) Act of 1952, as Amended to 1965.” The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 367.1 (1966): 127-36.

Billington, Ray Allen. The Protestant Crusade, 1800-1860: A Study of the Origins of American Nativism. New York: Macmillan, 1938.

Ciment, James, and Radzilowski, John. American immigration: An encyclopaedia of political, social, and cultural change. London, 2015.

Cohen, James, and Reimers, David M. “A legal history of the rights of immigrant aliens in the United States under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, 1870 to the present.” ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 1991.

Coolidge, Calvin. First Annual Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley. 6 December 1923.

Cornell Law School. 14th Amendment - Constitution - US Law - LII/Legal Information Institute. 1992.

Daniels, Roger. Concentration Camps U.S.A.: Japanese Americans and World War II. New York, 1971.

Daniels, Roger. Guarding the golden door: American immigration policy and immigrants since 1882. New York, 2004.

Daniels, Roger. “United States policy towards Asian immigrants: contemporary developments in historical perspective.” International Journal 48.2 (1993): 310-334.

Franklin, Benjamin. Observations concerning the increase of mankind, peopling of countries, &c. New York, 1918.

Garis, Roy L. Immigration restriction: a study of the opposition to and regulation of immigration into the United States. New York, 1927.

Hall, Prescott F. Immigration and its effects upon the United States. London, 1906.

Higham, John. Strangers in the land: patterns of American nativism, 1860-1925. New York, 1963.

Hutchinson, Edward P. Legislative history of American immigration policy, 1798-1965. Philadelphia( 1981):1798-1965.

Jones, Keith. “American Nativism and Exclusion: The Rise And Fall Of The Immigration Restriction League, 1894–1921.” Washington, 2013.

Kazin, Michael. The Populist Persuasion, an American History. New York, 1998.

Kil, Sang Hea. “Fearing yellow, imagining white: media analysis of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.” Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture 18.6 (2012): 663-77.

LeMay, Michalel C. U.S. immigration and naturalization laws and issues : A documentary history. Westport, 1999.

Ma, Xiaohua. “The Sino-American Alliance During World War II and the Lifting of the Chinese Exclusion Acts.” American Studies International 38.2 (2000): 39-61.

Mayo-Smith, Richmond. Emigration and immigration: a study in social science. New York, 1890.

Miller Solomon, Barbara. Ancestors and Immigrants: A Changing New England Tradition. Cambridge, 1956.

Miller, Kerby A. Emigrants and Exiles: Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America. New York, 1985.

Morse, Samuel. Foreign Conspiracy Against the Liberties of the United States. New York, 1835.

Parfitt, Steven. “Brotherhood From a Distance: Americanization and the Internationalism of the Knights of Labor.” Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis (2013): 463-91.

Phelan, Craig. Grand Master Workman : Terence Powderly and the Knights of Labor. Westport, 2000.

Schrecker, John. “"For the Equality of Men – For the Equality of Nations": Anson Burlingame and China's First Embassy to the United States, 1868.” Journal of American-East Asian Relations 17.1 (2010): 9-34.

Song, Jingyi. “Fighting for Chinese American Identity.” New York History 83.4 (2002): 385-403.

Taft, William Howard. Veto message of President Taft. Columbia, 1913.

Testi, Arnaldo. Il secolo degli Stati Uniti. Bologna, 2014.

Truman, Harry S. Veto of Bill To Revise the Laws Relating to Immigration, Naturalization, and Nationality, Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley . 1952.

Wilson, Woodrow. Veto Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley. 28 January 1915.

Yung, Judy, Gordon H. Chang and Him Mark Lai. Chinese American Voices : From the Gold Rush to the Present. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.




How to Cite

Bonomi, F. (2019). The United States immigration laws: history of a nation set up by migrants. Revista De Investigación De La Cátedra Internacional Conjunta Inocencio III, 1(9), 253–277. Retrieved from

Similar Articles

1 2 3 > >> 

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.