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Immigration to America the year you were born

  • Immigration to America the year you were born

    Immigration matters have long led some of America's most significant foreign policy decisions. What is different now compared to the early 20th century is that the foreign-born population is the highest it's ever been, with up to 13.7% of the U.S. made up of immigrants. Two years ago, approximately 44,525,900 immigrants were living in the U.S., compared to the 13,920,700 in 1920 who made up 13.2% of the population. Stacker looked to the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Census Bureau, and the Migration Policy Institute for immigration data from 1920-2017. All data included was last updated on April 9, 2019 by the Department of Homeland Security.

    The research revealed that the “American Dream” of religious freedom and economic opportunity was in full-swing by 1920, with 42% of New Yorkers, 42% of San Franciscans, and 41% of Chicagoans being foreign-born. However, with the rise in immigration came restrictions on the flow of immigrants to the U.S., specifically with the Immigration Act of 1924. The desire to emigrate to the United States was so strong that in 1953, the New York Times ran a report detailing how Russians coveted what U.S. citizens had.

    In 1965, the face of America changed forever, according to NPR, reporting that at “the height of the civil rights movement, at a time when ideals of freedom, democracy, and equality had seized the nation,” how the U.S. decided who could enter became increasingly politically complex. President Ronald Reagan offered amnesty to those seeking refuge in the 1980s, but in 2001, the 9/11 terrorist attacks saw immigration services transferred to the newly created Department of Homeland Security. Though there had been a change in politics by 2009, immigration restrictions remained.

    Under President Barack Obama, the highest number of undocumented immigrant deportations took place, with more than 400,000 individuals leaving the United States between 2011 and 2014. President Donald Trump campaigned and won based on a number of immigration issues, including the construction of a wall on the border of Mexico.

    Read on to find out what immigration policies were like in America the year you were born.

    You may also like: State economies most and least impacted by immigration

  • 1920

    - Total U.S. population: 106,461,000
    - People obtaining permanent legal status: 430,001 (0.40% of population; #8 highest for all years)
    - People naturalized: 177,683 (81.2% of naturalization petitions filed; #84 highest)
    - Undocumented immigrant removals: 14,557 (13.7 per 100k pop.; #49 highest)

    The Roaring Twenties brought in flappers and fast-rising urbanization and industrialization that had a significant impact on immigration. By 1920, up to 4 million immigrants had come to the U.S., many of which were Eastern European Jews seeking refuge from religious persecution. The early quotas that would be set for the Immigration Act of 1924 were being calculated at this time.

  • 1921

    - Total U.S. population: 108,538,000
    - People obtaining permanent legal status: 805,228 (0.74% of population; #1 highest for all years)
    - People naturalized: 181,292 (92.7% of naturalization petitions filed; #61 highest)
    - Undocumented immigrant removals: 18,296 (16.9 per 100k pop.; #40 highest)

    Any immigration decline the U.S. experienced during World War I was long gone by 1921, when the Emergency Quota Act was signed. With this legislation, 357,000 immigrants were allowed to enter the U.S. each year. The act, signed into law by President Warren Harding, was created as a temporary measure, but remained intact until 1965.

  • 1922

    - Total U.S. population: 110,049,000
    - People obtaining permanent legal status: 309,556 (0.28% of population; #31 highest for all years)
    - People naturalized: 170,447 (104.8% of naturalization petitions filed; #14 highest)
    - Undocumented immigrant removals: 18,076 (16.4 per 100k pop.; #41 highest)

    The Cable Act of 1922 reversed the Expatriation Act of 1907, which stripped American citizenship from any woman who married a foreigner. Also known as the Married Women's Independent Nationality Act, American women could retain their citizenship if their foreign husband were eligible for residency. This year, the U.S. Supreme Court took on the case of Takao Ozawa, a Japanese American who was not eligible for naturalization after living in America for 20 years.

  • 1923

    - Total U.S. population: 111,947,000
    - People obtaining permanent legal status: 522,919 (0.47% of population; #5 highest for all years)
    - People naturalized: 145,084 (87.8% of naturalization petitions filed; #70 highest)
    - Undocumented immigrant removals: 24,280 (21.7 per 100k pop.; #30 highest)

    In 1923, the U.S. initiated the denaturalization of Indian citizens, beginning with the United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind. Thind's petition for naturalization under the Naturalization Act of 1906 was denied, with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that no citizen of Indian descent could be considered American.

  • 1924

    - Total U.S. population: 114,109,000
    - People obtaining permanent legal status: 706,896 (0.62% of population; #4 highest for all years)
    - People naturalized: 150,510 (85.0% of naturalization petitions filed; #73 highest)
    - Undocumented immigrant removals: 36,693 (32.2 per 100k pop.; #22 highest)

    The Immigration Act of 1924 mandated that only 2% of the total number of immigrants from each nationality could reside in the United States. Bill author and Washington State Rep. Albert Johnson said during the 1924 floor debate that “it has become necessary that the United States cease to become an asylum,” according to the Office of the Historian. The act also created an official border patrol.

  • 1925

    - Total U.S. population: 115,829,000
    - People obtaining permanent legal status: 294,314 (0.25% of population; #40 highest for all years)
    - People naturalized: 152,457 (94% of naturalization petitions filed; #56 highest)
    - Undocumented immigrant removals: 34,885 (30.1 per 100k pop.; #23 highest)

    When Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1924, it “reflected the deep unease among native-born white Protestants,” according to the Oxford Encyclopedia. By 1925, all annual quotas were set in place, with Germany holding the most considerable allowance of 51,227 immigrants per year.

  • 1926

    - Total U.S. population: 117,397,000
    - People obtaining permanent legal status: 304,488 (0.26% of population; #36 highest for all years)
    - People naturalized: 146,331 (85% of naturalization petitions filed; #74 highest)
    - Undocumented immigrant removals: 31,454 (26.8 per 100k pop.; #24 highest)

    Soon after the Immigration Act of 1924 quotas were established, the Cristero War erupted in Mexico and had a palpable effect on immigration, leading “new waves of emigrants, exiles and refugees who fled the violence and economic disruption,” according to the U.S. Library of Congress. Many Mexican Catholics disagreed with the government's restrictions on their religion, and engaged in dissent until the offending laws were annulled.

  • 1927

    - Total U.S. population: 119,035,000
    - People obtaining permanent legal status: 335,175 (0.28% of population; #30 highest for all years)
    - People naturalized: 199,804 (83.1% of naturalization petitions filed; #80 highest)
    - Undocumented immigrant removals: 31,417 (26.4 per 100k pop.; #25 highest)

    On Sept. 16, 1927, a New York Times article reported that the U.S. Coast Guard patrol was being increased due to Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Greek, and Italian immigrants being smuggled into America from Cuba. The three countries with the most migration were Germany, Great Britain, and Northern Ireland. The three countries with the fewest migration were New Zealand, Egypt and the Pacific Islands, according to George Mason University.

  • 1928

    - Total U.S. population: 120,509,000
    - People obtaining permanent legal status: 307,255 (0.25% of population; #39 highest for all years)
    - People naturalized: 233,155 (97% of naturalization petitions filed; #39 highest)
    - Undocumented immigrant removals: 30,464 (25.3 per 100k pop.; #28 highest)

    By 1928, border control had been established with local sheriffs, Texas Rangers, and railroad mail clerks. According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, “Recruits furnished their horse and saddle, but Washington supplied oats and hay for the horses and a $1,680 annual salary.”

  • 1929

    - Total U.S. population: 121,767,000
    - People obtaining permanent legal status: 279,678 (0.23% of population; #51 highest for all years)
    - People naturalized: 224,728 (87.9% of naturalization petitions filed; #69 highest)
    - Undocumented immigrant removals: 31,035 (25.5 per 100k pop.; #27 highest)

    After the 1929 Wall Street crash and onset of the Great Depression, Mexican repatriation efforts started the end of this year. These deportation drives occurred under President Herbert Hoover's administration, when local, state, and national officials pushed minority groups out of their homes in fear they'd “steal” any remaining American jobs.

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