Seminal Moments in Immigration Reform History


Our esteemed colleague Ted Hesson has come up with his top 23 moments in immigration reform. You can get his full list here. Below are his top moments since 1990. Mine would be slightly different.

19. Immigration Act of 1990

– Allowed the president to grant “temporary protected status” to immigrants from certain countries that might be afflicted with armed conflict or a natural disaster.

– Removed the ban on lesbian and gay immigrants.

20. Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996

– The law instituted a ten-year ban for entering the country illegally and staying for more than a year.

21. Creation of Homeland Security (2002)

– In response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. realigned its immigration agencies, placing all agencies under the new department called Homeland Security.

– In the decade following 9/11, spending on border security and deportations increased dramatically.

22. Secure Fence Act of 2006

– Congress approved $1.2 billion for 700 miles of fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

23. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals 2012

– President Barack Obama used his executive authority to temporarily halt deportations of young undocumented immigrants who meet certain qualifications, such as attending high school.

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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.