Best of times … Worst of times … Immigration policy of the US part -2
In the US, the 1965 Immigration Act was another milestone.There was no numerical quota on a western-hemisphere country until 1965. In 1965, when national origin quotas had been repealed, Congress replaced it with a system of so-called equal quotas. Every country gets the same number, so it was supposed to get rid of racial favoritism. But should Mexico have the same limit as Belgium? So even though we have high levels of migration from non-European countries, in another sense it’s very unfair. The long waits for a green card that people talk about are only for about four countries — Mexico, India, China, the Philippines. Within those quotas, you have preferences. So the family preferences are adult married children or adult siblings of American citizens, that’s what Trump thinks is “chain migration.” People bring family members over. That’s how his mother came over, because she had a sister here.
Now theexisting system appears fair on the surface, but in reality it is not. The 1965 Immigration Act was a Civil Rights-Era act and it was very much in a civil rights mindset. In the U.S., civil rights means every individual is treated equally. This was morphed into “treat every country equally,” but not all countries are equal, so in practice it became a way to limit immigration from certain countries.African migration was low even after ’65 because the big African migration was slavery. But in terms of modern African migration, that only increased after 1990 with the so-called “diversity lottery.” In 1990, Congress added 50,000 a year as a diversity category, and that was actually meant to bring in more white people. It was meant for countries that had low immigration. They wanted more Europeans where there had not been that many, because Europe was prospering. People don’t migrate when their countries are doing really well. One of the unintended consequences of the diversity lottery is that Africans used it. They didn’t have to have a relation in the U.S., so people come from Nigeria or Ghana; there’s actually a middle class of very skilled professionals and technical people in those countries.
The US has a refugee law that was passed in 1980, when there was a lot of pressure on the U.S. to accept more refugees internationally. Before 1980, there was no official refugee policy. The U.S. had a Cold War policy, so in the ’50s, they brought in thousands of people from Hungary during the Hungarian uprising, then it was Cuba, then it was the Indochinese countries after the war. But Haitians who were fleeing the Duvalier regime were interdicted at sea and sent back because the U.S. said they weren’t refugees, though they obviously were, but it was a U.S-backed military regime — and it was racist. So there was an ad hoc system which favored only people from Communist countries.Then in 1980, after pressure from human-rights movements around the world, the US adopted a refugee policy that uses the international standard of what defines a political asylee and a refugee. A refugee could be from a natural disaster or war, whereas asylum refers to people who have a reasonable fear of persecution if they return to their home country based on their political beliefs or religion. That’s 50,000 a year, and the president can raise it or lower it, so that’s why we have, in recent years, people who have come from Sudan and Somalia and Burma.Migration is a global phenomenon. It’s as old as human industry, so when states try to stop it or control it or regulate it, it invariably creates a whole host of other problems.