Date Presented

Spring 5-1-2007

Document Type



Political Science

First Advisor

Timothy Meinke

Second Advisor

Ed DeClair

Third Advisor

Atul Gupta


This paper examines immigration legislation throughout the history of the United States. The author has divided the focus of legislative activity into four main eras: the Laissez- Fair Era (1789-1875), the Anti-Asian Era (1876-1920), the National Origin Quotas Era (1921-1953), and the Illegal Immigration Era (1954-present). While these eras are not all inclusive, they are indicative of the main focus of legislation passed during their time. The author then compares the impact of major legislation passed during these eras to three current proposals aimed at addressing the increasing issue of illegal immigration: two versions of a guest-worker program and amnesty/legalization for illegal aliens already in the United States. These comparisons will be used to predict both the most likely course of action the government will and/or should take and the potential effectiveness of such reform. i