Monday, September 16, 2019

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Article Index

E. Immigration and Nationality Act

A critical shift occurred in 1952, when Congress enacted the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which provided that [t] he right of a person to become a naturalized citizen of the United States shall not be denied or abridged because of race or sex or because such person is married. The INA, which is still the law today, removed all racial barriers to naturalization. The law may have been a result of the United States' desire to portray itself as a leading democracy in the post-war period.

The next far-reaching change occurred in 1965, when Congress provided a more inclusive approach to immigration. The 1965 amendments abolished national origin quotas for immigration as well as immigration restrictions relating to Asians. Instead, the Act instituted a new immigration system, with categories based on family status and employment.

Since 1870, laws seeking to exclude immigrants have used race and morality as categories by which to judge immigrants. Even though current immigration laws no longer exclude immigrants based on their race, the laws still focus on morality and conduct, excluding individuals who have committed crimes of moral turpitude or who do not exhibit the requisite good moral character while also invalidating marriages that are not entered into in good faith.

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Vernellia R. Randall
Founder and Editor
Professor Emerita of Law
The University of Dayton School of Law

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