United States Immigration

Below is a (very long) list of the most significant events from December, 1783 to February, 2017 in United States Immigration history.

2 December 1783: George Washington, then commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, tells a group of recent Irish immigrants: “The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respectable Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations And Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment.” (Deportation Nation, 2014)

1788: Massachusetts Immigration Law: Massachusetts joined other states in enacting a statute that required foreigners to register and prohibited the admission of those likely to seek public relief. It updated the law in 1794 to authorize forcible removal of poor people.  (Deportation Nation, 2014)

26 March 1790: Naturalization Act of 1790: This act outlined the first rules in granting U.S. national citizenship. It limited naturalization to immigrants who were “free white persons” of “good character.” It required two years of residence in the United States and one year in the state of residence, prior to applying for citizenship.  (Deportation Nation, 2014)

1798: The Alien Enemies Act: The Aliens Enemies Act gave the executive branch power to deport dissidents who are non-citizens. Once triggered by a declaration of war or imminent invasion, it instructs that “all natives, citizens, denizens or subjects of the hostile nation … shall be liable to be apprehended, restrained, secured and removed, as alien enemies.” (Deportation Nation, 2014)

1830: Indian Removal Act: President Andrew Jackson oversaw the passage of the Indian Removal Act as a way for the federal government to “separate the Indians from immediate contact with the settlements of whites” so they could “pursue happiness in their own way and under their own rude institutions.” Thousands of members of tribes and nations were driven from their lands in the east to what became known as Indian Territory. (Deportation Nation, 2014)

1838: Forced Removal of Native Americans Proceeds Frederal Deportation System: Daniel Kanstroom describes how the system used to forcibly move Native Americans was a “step on the road” to creating the modern U.S. deportation system. (Deportation Nation, 2014)

1849: The Passenger Cases: The Supreme Court opinion in the Passenger cases helped transform immigration from a matter of state law into a joint state-federal enterprise. It asserted federal authority over foreign and interstate commerce and banned states from collecting “head taxes” on immigrants disembarking in their ports. But a patchwork of systems designed to exclude poor, sick and criminal immigrants remained in place. (Deportation Nation, 2014)

1850: Fugitive Slave Laws Pave Way For Deportation System: Daniel Kanstroom explains how Fugitive Slave Laws regulating the movement of slaves provided a model for the authors of early immigration and deportation laws. (Deportation Nation, 2014)

1864: The Immigration Act: To accommodate demand for new laborers, the federal government created a “Commissioner of Immigration” position who worked with the Secretary of State to spread information in Europe about opportunities here. (Deportation Nation, 2014)

1875: The Page Act: The first federal immigration law passed by Congress focused on exclusion of “undesirable” immigrants. It specifically banned laborers from any “Oriental country” who were “persons who are undergoing a sentence for conviction in their own country of felonious crimes” or prostitutes. The law had the most impact on excluding Asian women because of a stereotype that most of them were prostitutes. (Deportation Nation, 2014)

1882: The Immigration Act: The first comprehensive federal immigration law called for the return of convicts, “idiots,” “lunatics” and persons unable to care for themselves to their countries of origin. The new federal system was funded by a tax of fifty cents on each immigrant. (Deportation Nation, 2014)

1882: The Chinese Exclusion Act: This revision to an earlier treaty with China allowed Congress to suspend immigration from the country for 10 years. It also included a provision that required any Chinese immigrants found in the U.S. without permission “to be removed to the country from whence he came.” (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

1886: Violent Expulsions of Chinese Immigrants: In 1886 a violent mob in Seattle, WA, carried out “a particularly brutal episode of vigilantism”.  Daniel Kanstroom describes the event: “As the police chief questioned Chinese residents about sanitation, a mob broke into their houses and loaded their furnishings onto wagons. All the Chinese were then taken forcibly to the docks, where they were compelled to wait, in the rain, while the Queen of the Pacific prepared for them to sail for San Francisco.” Several Chinese men were killed during the incident and federal troops moved in the next day. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

1890: Attacks on Chinese Laborers Shape Deportation System: Daniel Kanstroom explains how the push to exclude Chinese Laborers – even if they had prior permission to live here – shaped the U.S. deportation system. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

1891: The Immigration Act: The 1891 Immigration Act amended the 1882 act to also exclude immigrants considered to be polygamists, to have contagious diseases, and those “likely to become a public charge.” It also called for the deportation of any immigrants who fit these categories within one year of their entry. A congressional report at the time found “at least 50 percent of the criminals, insane and paupers of our largest cities … are of foreign birth.” (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

1893: Fong Yue Ting vs United States: This Supreme Court decision upheld the Geary Law’s expansion of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act and established that Congress has “absolute and unqualified” power to decide whether immigrant exclusion or deportation “is necessary or expedient for the public interest.” The Geary law was aimed mostly at Chinese felons, a common scapegoat for social ills at the time. It required Chinese residents to carry a permit at all times or face a year of hard labor. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

1904: John Turner Deported For Being an Anarchist: In one of the clearest early examples of using deportation law for social control, the Supreme Court upheld the deportation of British union leader John Turner because of his anarchist beliefs. In the United States ex rel. Turner v. Williams, the court ruled that, “Congress has the power to exclude aliens from the United States; to prescribe the terms and conditions on which they may come in; to establish regulations for sending out of the country such aliens as have entered in violation of the law, and to commit the enforcement of such conditions and regulations to executive officers.” (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

1905: Increased Limits on Immigration Sought by President Roosevelt: In his State of the Union address to Congress President Theodore Roosevelt sought “an increase in the stringency of laws to keep out insane, idiotic, epileptic and pauper immigrants. But this is by no means enough. Not merely the anarchist, but every man of anarchistic tendencies, all violent and disorderly people, all people of bad character, the incompetent, the lazy, the vicious, and physically unfit, defective or degenerate should be kept out.” (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

1917: Immigration Act: This law introduced for the first time a post-entry criminal conduct basis for deportation. It called for otherwise legal residents to be deported if they committed “a crime involving moral turpitude” within five years of their arrival. The Supreme Court upheld this language in 1951, ruling that it is not “void for vagueness” and it remains in use. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

12 July 1917: The Bisbee Deportation: When the Industrial Workers of The World union organized Mexican and southern European copper mine workers in Bisbee, Arizona, to go on strike for better wages, they were decried as outsiders subject to German influence. The Sheriff and hundreds of volunteers rounded up more than 1,000 of the workers and gave them an ultimatum: quit the strike or face vigilante deportation. More than 1,186 men who refused were forced to board boxcars of a train filled with manure, and dropped off in the desert in neighboring New Mexico. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

1919: Palmer Raids: Timed to coincide with the Nov. 17, 1919 anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer and agents with the newly formed FBI headed by a young J. Edgar Hoover violently arrested radical activists and members of the Union of Russian Workers in 12 cities. In some cases the prisoners were marched through the streets in chains. About 250 of those arrested were forced to board a ship bound for Finland, including two well-known anarchists, Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman. A second series of raids followed in January 1920. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

19 May 1921: Emergency Quota Act: This was the first immigration law that established a quota system based on nationality. It limited immigrants who could be admitted from any country to 3 percent of the number of persons from that country living in the United States based on the 1910 census. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

1922: Narcotics Deportation Act: As the nation focused on ways to reduce crime by regulating vices, Congress passed a law to require the deportation of any immigrant convicted of importing opium or cocaine, and related offenses. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

28 May 1924: U.S. Border Patrol Formed: The Border Patrol was founded as an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor to prevent illegal entries along the Mexico–United States border and the United States-Canada border. The first two border patrol stations were in El Paso, Texas and Detroit, Michigan. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

1932: Deportations Reach New High: The Department of Immigration’s focus on “criminal aliens” reached a high point in the early 1930s due in part to the “war on crime.” Judicial discretion in immigration hearings was limited to those who could prove they were of “good moral character” and had lived in the US since 1921. The number of people deported rose from 2,762 in 1920 to 19,426 in 1932. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

10 June 1933: Immigration and Naturalization Service Created: The United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was created with the merger of the Bureau of Immigration and the Bureau of Naturalization and moved under the United States Department of Justice. It handled legal and unauthorized immigration, and naturalization. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

29 June 1940: The Alien Registration Act (Smith Act): Passed at the beginning of World War II, this measure required immigrants 14-years-old and up to register with the government and testify under oath about their political beliefs. It also overturned a ban on deportation for past membership in the Communist party or any anti-government organization. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

19 February 1942: “A Date Which Will Live in Infamy”: After Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which prompted the arrest and detention of “enemy aliens” from Japan, Germany and Italy. Immigrants were forced to abandon their homes and businesses, then shipped to “relocation centers where they were held for several years”. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

1942: Japanese Internment: Daniel Kanstroom argues large-scale interment of Japanese immigrants and citizens during World War II “exemplifies how the deportation system is better understood when it is functionally decoupled from the formal citizenship-alienage line and viewed as a system of extraordinary majoritarian power operating outside of well-accepted legal norms.” (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

1951: The Internal Security Act: Also known as the Subversive Activities Control Act, this bill included new rules that barred the entry of immigrants who were Communists or members of organizations considered a threat to public safety. It also allowed for their retroactive deportation. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

1952: The Immigration and Nationality Act: This measure organized immigration statutes under one section of law, and included harsh provisions that limited judicial review of deportation cases and eliminated many statutes of limitation for deportation. It was co-authored by Rep. Francis Walter, who argued that “thousands of criminals and subversive aliens are roaming our streets, a continuing threat to the safety of our people.” The House and Senate passed the bill overwhelmingly, but President Truman vetoed it as “unnecessarily severe.” His veto was overridden. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

9 June 1954: “Operation Wetback”: After Attorney General Herbert Brownell won an increase in funding for border patrols he began rounding up undocumented Mexican workers. Agents often detained “Mexican-looking” citizens as part of a program he called “Operation Wetback.” It targeted “illegal” workers who had overstayed guest worker permits issued through the Bracero Program, or who entered while the program was suspended. The operation rounded up about 1,000 people a day, and federal officials claim more than 1 million Mexicans were apprehended. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

1965: The Immigration and Nationality Act: This measure signed into law by President Johnson abolished the old quota system for immigrants, but put in place a new quota of 120,000 for the Western Hemisphere. The new system generated a backlog of immigrants from Latin America that continues to this day. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

March 1972: John Lennon Faces Deportation: John Lennon, former member of The Beatles, faced deportation when his visa to live in the U.S. expired. The Nixon administration pressured immigration officials to deport Lennon because of his outspoken activism against the Vietnam War. A prior drug conviction was also used as a reason for his removal. Ultimately, Lennon’s lawyer was able to secure his green card in 1976, the year Nixon left office in disgrace after the Watergate scandal. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

4 August 1977: President Carter: More Immigration Enforcement: President Jimmy Carter called for legislation that would protect migrant workers from exploitation, and for increased funding for immigration enforcement along the US-Mexico border. Neither measure passed. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

1986: Immigration Reform and Control Act: This act created a requirement for employers to verify whether employees are authorized to work in the United States, and “legalized” almost 3 million people. In order to be eligible for amnesty, undocumented immigrants first had to turn themselves in for deportation proceedings. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

1986: Criminal Alien Program: In 1986 four cities piloted the first version of the Alien Criminal Apprehension Program, which transfers immigrants from local jails and state prisons into federal custody. It later incorporated the similar Institutional Removal Program, and in 2005 it became known simply as the Criminal Alien Program (CAP). (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

A 2009 study by Andrea Guttin, found 98 percent of those detained through CAP in Travis County, TX, were charged with misdemeanor offenses. The number of Latinos arrested for minor offenses in the county also increased after the CAP program began. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

18 November 1988: Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 Becomes Law: This measure categorized illicit drug trafficking as an “aggravated felony”, even though it is non-violent offense. Immigrants convicted of an aggravated felony are automatically be subject to deportation after serving their sentence, and face prison time for re-entry without permission. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

This act also required the Attorney General to implement a system that allowed federal, state, and local enforcement agencies to access information on whether people in their custody had aggravated felonies or were undocumented. This led to the creation of the Law Enforcement Support Center. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

29 November 1990: Immigration Act of 1990: This bill expanded the definition of “aggravated felony” to include money laundering and “crimes of violence.” Immigrants convicted of such crimes face severe limits on the type of discretionary relief they are eligible for because the conviction indicates lack of “good moral character.” (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

George H.W. Bush: “Immigration reform began in 1986 with an effort to close the “back door” on illegal immigration through enactment of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act. Now, as we open the “front door” to increased legal immigration, I am pleased that this Act also provides needed enforcement authority.” (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

1993: Border Patrol Expands: President Bill Clinton’s budget called for modest cuts to immigration enforcement. But Congress increased funding by 148 percent for the Border Patrol and added 600 new Border Patrol agents. Clinton went along, saying “the Border Patrol is drastically understaffed, breathtakingly understaffed.” (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

July 1994: LESC Pilot Program Launched: The INS’s Law Enforcement Service Center was scheduled to last 15 months and cost $1.4 million. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

It was hosted at a site in Burlington, Vermont. Most of the inquiries it responded to were from the Phoenix Arizona Police Department and the Maricopa County Arizona Sheriff’s Department. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

The center had access to five INS databases: Central Index System, Deportable Alien Control System, National Automated Immigration Lookout System II, Non-immigrant Information System, and the Student and Schools System. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

In FY 1996 and 1997, California, New York, Florida, Texas, and Illinois were added with operating costs estimated at $3.4 million and $3.6 million for the expansion. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

By 1998, LESC began supporting the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

It expands to all 50 states in 2001. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

13 September 1994: Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act: The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act enhanced penalties for immigrant smuggling, illegal reentry after deportation and other immigration-related crimes and created a criminal alien tracking center. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

It also provided $1.8 billion to reimburse states for incarceration of criminal aliens, through a program known as the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP). About $130 million in grants were available in 1995, and $1.67 billion was authorized from 1996 to 2000. SCAAP funding has since been reauthorized. The remains a point of contention. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

October 1994: ICE Tests IDENT SYSTEM: NS tested its newly developed automated biometric fingerprint identification system called (IDENT) in the San Diego Border Patrol Sector, later expanding it to the rest of the Southwest border. The system also became the main biometrics component of INS’s Enforcement Case Tracking System (ENFORCE). (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

As a result of the IIRIRA of 1996, Congress directed the INS to expand the system nationwide. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

25 October 1994: Immigration and Nationality Technical Correction Act: This act expanded the definition of aggravated felonies to include crimes such as fraud, burglary and theft in addition to murder or drug trafficking. It also established a “criminal alien tracking center” to locate immigrants convicted of aggravated felonies. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

August 1995: GAO: LESC Pilot Program Demonstrates Database Problems: The GAO found the INS’ name-based databases were limited in identifying whether a person arrested for an aggravated felony is also undocumented. The GAO said name and date of birth may be shared by more than person and can be falsified. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

The report stated: “Using this process during the pilot, INS initiated enforcement actions on 1,935 aliens. However, the LEAs released 920 additional aliens that INS could have taken enforcement actions against because INS did not identify them before bond was posted or the aliens were released on their own recognizance by the LEAs. The INS investigator assigned to the pilot estimated that at least 46 of the 920 were arrested for aggravated felonies—the population targeted by the mandate.” (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

It also said that information in the INS’ Deportable Alien Control System (DACS) database and the Central Index System (CIS) files is “incomplete and inaccurate” and recommended DOJ look to INS’s new Identification System (IDENT) and its partnership between INS and California Department of Justice. In this partnership, INS added fingerprint information of deported criminal aliens into the state’s automated fingerprint processing system. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

24 April 1996: Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act: Shortly after the Oklahoma City bombing, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) was signed into law. It included a provision affecting legal permanent residents and undocumented individuals by expanding what is considered an aggravated felony. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

30 September 1996: Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act: President Clinton signed into law the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA). The new rules retroactively expanded the criminal grounds for deportation, created mandatory detention for many immigrants, and authorized more state and local law enforcement participation in immigration enforcement. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

22 March 2000: Immigration Agency Splits: The House Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee approved the division of the Immigration and Naturalization Service into an immigration service sector and immigration enforcement sector within the Department of Justice. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

26 October 2001: President Bush signs USA PATRIOT Act: Less than a month after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 Congress passed the Patriot Act. Among other controversial provisions, it authorized the Attorney General to detain non-citizens if he or she has “reasonable grounds to believe” the person may be a threat to national security. It also called for a system to track international students. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

2001 November: Bush Expands “voluntary interviews” of Middle Eastern Men: The INS began “voluntary” interviews with 5,000 men from countries where it said Al Qaeda had a “terrorist presence or activity.” No European country was included on the list. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

7 July 2002: Florida Is First to Enroll in 287(g): Crossing a bright line dividing local law enforcement from federal immigration enforcement, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement was the first to sign a “Memo of Understanding” deputizing its officers to enforce immigration laws. The program is named after a Section 287(g) of the IIRIRA passed in 1996. Kris Kobach, who later helped author Arizona’s SB 1070, was counsel to Attorney General Ashcroft at the time. He helped launch the program in Florida, and Alabama the next year. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

14 July 2002: Address Change Notification Enforced: The INS announced it would increase enforcement of section 265(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which requires all immigrants to register changes of address within ten days of moving. Those with prior immigration violations or who fail to register face arrest and deportation. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

11 September 2002: Entry/Exit Monitoring Program: The INS began a “special registration” program for certain “non-immigrant aliens” in order to monitor them “in the interest of national security.” The program is now called the National Security Entry and Exit Registry System (NSEERS). The co-author of Arizona’s SB 1070, Kris Kobach, led the team that developed this new monitoring system. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

1 March 2003: ICE Created: The Bush administration dissolved the INS and and transferred its powers to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency under the newly created Department of Homeland Security. Its mission is to uphold public safety by enforcing immigration and customs laws. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

ICE’s Enforcement and Removal division is “responsible for enforcing the nation’s immigration laws and ensuring the departure of all removable aliens from the United States.” This one division locates immigrants, detains them, and prosecutes them. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

April 2003: OIG: Post-911 Detention Report: A report by the DHS Office of Inspector General found significant problems with the “Treatment of Aliens held on Immigration Charges in Connection with the Investigation of the September 11 Attacks.” (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

The OIG found the INS held more than 760 people based on “suspicion” in a network of detention facilities around the country. Many did not know why they were being held, and had little ability to obtain a laywer or request a bond hearing. Their detention was supposed to last “a few days,” but the average stay was 80 days from the time of arrest to clearance. Some were held for more than six months. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

29 April 2003: Demore v. Kim: In Demore v. Kim, the Supreme Court upheld the use of mandatory detention for certain non-citizens until deportation proceedings are over. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice William Rehnquist opined, “Congress regularly makes rules that would be unacceptable if applied to citizens.” (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

The case was brought by Hyung Joon Kim, a lawful permanent resident who was convicted in state court of first-degree burglary and petty theft. He was then detained by the INS under a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act that allows the government to take into custody any immigrant convicted of an aggravated felony. Kim argued he posed no danger to society and was not a flight risk, and a lower court of appeals ruled the INS had not justified his detention without bail. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

15 June 2003: CE Reveals Endgame Strategy: ICE’s Detention and Removal division announced its Endgame strategic plan for 2003-2012, calling for “a 100 percent removal rate” of undocumented immigrants. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

As the title implies, it “provides the endgame to immigration enforcement and that is the removal of all removable aliens … We must endeavor to maintain the integrity of the immigration process and protect our homeland by ensuring that every alien who is ordered removed, and can be, departs the United States as quickly as possible and as effectively as practicable.” (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

9 November 2004: Leocal v. Ashcroft: In Leocal v. Ashhcroft, the Supreme Court found that the Florida law governing DUIs did not rise to the level of an aggravated felony, and that drunk driving is not a crime of violence. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

Writing for the Court, Chief Justice Rehnquist said, “Drunk driving is a nationwide problem, as evidenced by the efforts of legislatures to prohibit such conduct and impose appropriate remedies. But this fact does not warrant our shoe-horning it into statutory sections where it does not fit.” (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

At the center of the case, was Josue Leocal, a legal permanent resident from Haiti who was convicted of drunk driving in Florida in 2000. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

February 2005: Community Shield Program Begins: Operation Community Shield was launched with a mandate to target and remove violent transnational street gangs. Its initial focus was on the Mara Salvatrucha organization, or MS-13. But by September 2008, the focus grew to include all transnational criminal street and prisons gangs. In 2010, it became a joint program with agencies in several Latin American countries. ICE boasts that since its implementation, more than 15,000 gang members and associates have been arrested. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

24 August 2005: TRAC: Immigration Cases Top Federal Prosecutions: The watchdog group Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse reported that immigration cases now represent the single largest group of all federal prosecutions, about 32 percent of the total fueled by DHS-immigration referrals in FY2004. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

18 October 2005: DHS Promises End of Catch and Release: DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff complained that Mexicans detained for illegally crossing the border were quickly deported, but detainees who are “other than Mexican” known as OTM – were often released soon after their arrest. The problem, he argued, was lack of bed space. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

“When a non-Mexican is caught trying to enter the U.S. across the southwest border today, he has an 80 percent chance of being released immediately because we have nowhere to hold him,” Chertoff testified before a Senate Judiciary Committee. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

December 2005: Operation Streamline Deployed: ICE began Operation Streamline at select entry points along the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas and Arizona, with a focus on pursuing criminal cases against undocumented immigrants for illegal entry. It is a “zero tolerance” border enforcement program that carries a maximum penalty of 180 days incarceration, followed by deportation. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

23 August 2006: Catch and Release Officially Ends: The Bush Administration officially announced the end of the “catch and release” policy, promising to detain nearly all non-Mexican illegal immigrants caught in the U.S. until they can be deported. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff: “First, last year we announced that our target, by the end of this fiscal year, meaning by September 30, was to eliminate the previous policy of catch-and-release whereby most non-Mexicans who were caught at the border were released, and to reverse that and impose catch-and-remove – 100 percent catch-and-remove for everybody caught at the border. I am pleased to say not only did we meet that, but we exceeded that deadline. As of the last several weeks, we have essentially been at 100 percent catch-and-remove in our southern and northern border.” (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

September 2006: Enforcement Increases Need For Detention Beds: ICE expanded its inventory of detention beds from 19,000 to 27,500. Private prison company Corrections Corporation of American wins contracts for about half of the new beds and four month later, the company reveals that it will add 11,000 new beds in next 18 to 24 months. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

12 December 2006: Swift & Co. Meat Processing Plants Raided: ICE raided six Swift & Co. meat processing plants in six states searching, for immigrants and people linked to ID theft. Nearly 1,300 people were arrested for immigration violations in Colorado, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Iowa, and Minnesota. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

Worksite raids like this one became a major component of the Bush administration’s crackdown on immigration. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

2007: 287(g) Enrollment Picks Up Speed: The 287(g) program began to expand more rapidly than previous years and continued throughout 2009. Advocates and some police officials continue to argue that the program is flawed, lacks oversight, and promotes racial profiling. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

10 July 2007: Prince William County Passes Tough Immigration Enforcement Resolution:

Prince William County in Virginia passed a bill similar to Arizona’s SB1070 law, authorizing police to check the immigration status of offenders and denying public services to undocumented individuals. It is then modified in 2008. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

The County jail signed an MOA agreement with ICE to enter the 287(g) program on July 9, 2007, followed by the County’s Police Department and Sheriff’s Office on February 26, 2008. The Washington Post reported the cost of these programs in the first year was estimated at $6.4 million. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

21 August 2007: ACCESS Program Launched: ICE announced its ICE ACCESS (Agreements of Cooperation in Communities to Enhance Safety and Security) initiative, which provides tools or training to local and state police regarding immigration concerns. It included programs such as 287(g), Community Shield, Criminal Alien Program, and Secure Communities. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

“Local law enforcement agencies have shown tremendous interest in working with ICE,” said then Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary, Julie L. Myers. “Combing federal, state and local resources have proven successful in safeguarding the public.” (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

January 2008: ICE Budget Increases Detention and Removal Resources: The ICE budget included $250 million to fund an additional 4,150 detention beds, personnel and removal costs to support the increase in interior enforcement efforts. It also continued ICE’s need for beds from private prison operators. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

Correction Corporation of America CEO Ferguson told investors a month later, “We see the [ICE] budget supports the detention population of 33,000 inmate detainee beds – that’s up from 27,5000 the previous year… What I am encouraged about this… everything we are hearing says 33,000 is still not enough.” (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

March 2008: Secure Communities launched: Promoted as a technology program, ICE launched Secure Communities, which is suppose to prioritize the identification and deportation of level 1 criminal aliens. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

The program relies on police in local jails to enter arrest data into a joint FBI and Immigration and Customs and Enforcement database. A match then results in a detainer on the individual, who will then be transferred to ICE custody within 48 hours. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

While the agency plans to expand the program to every jurisdiction by 2013, ICE’s own data reveals the majority of people were deported for minor offenses. Critics say it promotes racial profiling and pretextual arrests, and presents obstacles to community policing. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

12 May 2008: Postville: Largest Immigration Raid in US History: ICE carried out the largest immigration raid in US history at the Agriprocessors meat plant in Postville, Iowa. Cameras were forbidden from the en masse criminal hearings that followed. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

Most of the 389 people arrested were from Guatemala and convicted of “identity theft” for using false social security documents to obtain their jobs. They were encouraged to plead guilty so they would be released after a five month sentence, instead of being detained longer while the fought their charges. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

A documentary by acclaimed director Luis Argueta later tracked down a mother separated from her son during the raid, and a worker who lost his house when he was deported and now lives in a shack without electricity or running water. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

18 May 2008: Washington Post Investigation Finds Poor Detention Standards: As the number of immigrants in detention grew, the The Washington Post released a damning report about gross mistreatment of detainees that spurred plans to reform the system. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

“The investigation found a hidden world of flawed medical judgments, faulty administrative practices, neglectful guards, ill-trained technicians, sloppy record-keeping, lost medical files and dangerous staff shortages. It is also a world increasingly run by high-priced private contractors. There is evidence that infectious diseases, including tuberculosis and chicken pox, are spreading inside the centers.” (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

January 2009: GAO: Management Problems within 287(g) Program: Mismanagement was the focus of this 287(g) report from the Government and Accountability Office. According to the report, the program did not have effective oversight of the then 67 partnership agreements and 950 trained officers, potentially resulting in “misuse of authority.” (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

It also noted that police departments did not consistently document their activities and that more than half of the officials from 29 law agencies reported concerns including racial profiling. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

24 January 2009: Secure Communities Program Promoted: The House of Representatives passed H.R. 2892, the FY 2010 Homeland Security Appropriations Act, authored by Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, U.S. Rep. David Price (D-NC). (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

Price said in his floor statement: “We have heard from many law enforcement and community groups about the importance of keeping a bright line between immigration enforcement and local community policing, and the Secure Communities program does just that.” (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

19 November 2009: DHS Touts Success of Secure Communities First Year: DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton touted the success of the Secure Communities. They said it had identified more than 111,000 aliens charged with or convicted of crimes in its first year of operation. But some 11,000 of those targeted were charged or convicted with level 1 crimes, while 100,000 faced level 2 and level 3 charges. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

March 2010: OIG: 287(g) Problems Persist: The OIG made 33 recommendations to improve the 287(g) program. These include: establishing better performance measures; enhancing oversight; improving 287(g) training programs, and establishing data collection and reporting requirements to address profiling concerns. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

“The challenge for ICE is to balance its need for additional resources with efforts to ensure that these activities are conducted in accordance with the MOAs. In addition, ICE must ensure that its 287(g) efforts achieve a balance among immigration enforcement, local public safety priorities, and civil liberties.” (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

18 March 2010: Cost of Detention Rises: In a hearing with the Appropriations Committee, ICE head John Morton said about 80 percent of detention space will be used for the criminal alien population. Morton admitted ICE is unable to use 33,400 detention beds it received funding for because the bed prices have gone up. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

According to Morton, current funding is based on a $99 a day vs. the $122 a day that ICE now has to spend. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

31 March 2010: Padilla v. Kentucky: In Padilla v. Kentucky, the Supreme Court held that the Sixth Amendment requires criminal lawyers to inform a non-citizen client if his or her plea carries a risk of deportation. Immigrants who do not receive this information can appeal their deportation. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

Honduran immigrant, José Padilla was at the center of the case. He was a lawful permanent resident and Vietnam veteran who was arrested in Kentucky for transporting marijuana while driving a truck. His lawyer did not advise him that there would be negative consequences for his immigration status if he accepted a plea bargain in the drug case. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

23 April 2010: Arizona Passes SB 1070: Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law what is considered the nation’s toughest immigration enforcement measure. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

Also known as the “show me your papers” law, Senate Bill 1070 made failure to carry immigration documents a crime and gave the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being undocumented. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

Critics say the law invites harassment and racial profiling. A DOJ lawsuit blocked key parts of the measure from going into effect. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

14 June 2010: Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder: The Supreme Court decided in Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder that a minor drug offense is not automatic grounds for deportation of a legal permanent resident. Now legal residents convicted of more than one minor drug possession charge can apply to cancel their removal, and judges can consider their family connections in the U.S. and other factors that suggest they ought to be allowed to stay. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

Jose Carachuri-Rosendo was convicted of having a marijuana cigarette and a Xanax pill. If deported, he would have been separated from his wife and children. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

6 July 2010: DOJ Sues Arizona: The Dept. of Justice filed a emergency injunction to block key parts of Arizona’s SB1070 law. It argues that it interferes with the federal government’s immigration responsibilities. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

“S.B. 1070 pursues only one goal – ‘attrition’– and ignores the many other objectives that Congress has established for the federal immigration system,” states the lawsuit. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

July 2010: Deportations Grow Under Obama: Facing mounting criticism from conservatives for being soft on immigration enforcement, the Obama administration is found to have deported more immigrants than Pres. G.W. Bush. Among its key immigration strategies, it amplified employer fines, increased border enforcement, and expanded the 287(g) and Secure Communities programs. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

A report by TRAC indicates that during the first nine months of FY 2010, “ICE investigations resulted in the removal of 279,035 individuals compared to 254,763 in the same nine month period during the final year of the Bush administration.” (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

28 July 2010: More States Introduce Strict Immigration Bills: The National Conference of State Legislatures reported that 44 state legislatures passed 191 laws and adopted 128 resolutions related to immigrants and refugees as of June 30, 2010. Five bills were vetoed, leaving a total of 314 enacted laws and resolutions, a 21 percent increase over the 259 laws and resolutions enacted during the same time period in 2009. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

2009: More than 1,500 bills introduced, 222 laws enacted, 131 solutions adopted (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

2008: 1,305 bills introduced, 206 laws enacted and 64 resolutions adopted (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

2007: 1,562 bills introduced, 240 laws enacted and 50 resolutions adopted (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

2006: 570 bills introduced, 84 laws enacted and 12 resolutions adopted (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

August 2010: Police Chiefs Concerned with Secure Communities Program: At a meeting in New York City, police chiefs who are members of the Consortium for Police Leadership in Equality expressed concerns about new burdens created by the Secure Communities program, and possible personnel and financial pressures imposed by Arizona copycat bills pending in dozens of states. A Consortium report finds that 1 in 3 Salt Lake City, for example, Utah residents are unwilling to report drug-related crimes when law enforcement can detain someone based on their immigration status. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

30 September 2010: OIG: 287(g) Still Needs Improvement: The DHS OIG found ICE still needed to implement many of the recommendations made in its March report on 287(g). The new report also finds that ICE needs to have better control over how funds are allocated for 287(g) inspection and oversight. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

Excerpt: “ICE has made efforts to implement improvements in program operations in some areas identified during our prior field work. However, for other important areas, ICE has provided action plans and related documentation that do not fully address critical issues outlined in our prior report.” (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

6 October 2010: Napolitano Announces Record Deportations: With the 2010 midterm election just a month away, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano held a national press conference to announce the “highest number of removals in our nation’s history.” The total deportations in FY 2010 reached 392,000. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

She also said that counties can’t opt-out of the Secure Communities program. A reporter asks her if this contradicts letters from ICE officials that indicate there is an opt-out process. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

“What my letter said was that we would work with them on the implementation in terms of timing and the like,” replied Napolitano. “But we do not view this as an opt-in, opt-out program.” (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

9 December 2010: Judge Demands ICE Release Secure Communities Data: Judge Shire Scheindlin in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York said the government is “dragging its feet” in releasing documents about the Secure Communities program requested by a coalition of advocates. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

Because ICE failed to meet its previous deadline, the judge set January 17, 2011 as the new date for ICE to release the documents or explain why they must be withheld. (Deportation Nation, n.d.)

Jan. 14, 2011: – Secure Border Initiative Canceled (Reprinted with permission of ProCon.org)

“Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Friday canceled the controversial virtual fence along the U.S. border with Mexico, citing technical problems, cost overruns and schedule delays since its inception in 2005.

The Secure Border Initiative-network, a high-tech surveillance system to reduce border smuggling, so far has cost taxpayers almost $1 billion for two regions in Arizona, covering just 53 miles overall on the 2,000-mile border, according to a homeland security report.”

May 26, 2011: US Supreme Court Upholds Arizona Law Penalizing Businesses That Hire Undocumented Immigrants (Reprinted with permission of ProCon.org)

“The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld an Arizona law that imposes sanctions against businesses that hire illegal immigrants.

The court, on a 5-3 vote, said federal immigration law does not bar Arizona from suspending or revoking the licenses of businesses that employ unauthorized aliens…

Then-Gov. Janet Napolitano signed the Arizona law in 2007, saying that while immigration is a federal responsibility, Arizona had been forced to deal with the issue because the demand for cheap, undocumented labor in the state was contributing to illegal immigration.

Numerous organizations, including the Chamber of Commerce, argued the state’s law was preempted by the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which forbids states from imposing sanctions for hiring illegal immigrants…

Several states have enacted measures that seek to penalize employers for hiring illegal workers, while others are considering legislation similar to Arizona’s.”

June 15, 2012: President Obama signs Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to Allow Some Undocumented Immigrants Who Came to the United States as Children to Stay in the Country (Reprinted with permission of ProCon.org)

“Hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children will be allowed to remain in the country without fear of deportation and able to work, under an executive action the Obama administration announced on Friday.

Administration officials said the president used existing legal authority to make the broad policy change, which could temporarily benefit more than 800,000 young people. He did not consult with Congress, where Republicans have generally opposed measures to benefit illegal immigrants…

“They are Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper,” President Obama said in announcing the new policy in the White House Rose Garden on Friday…

Under the change, the Department of Homeland Security will no longer initiate the deportation of illegal immigrants who came to the United States before age 16, have lived here for at least five years, and are in school, are high school graduates or are military veterans in good standing. The immigrants must also be under 30 and have clean criminal records…”

June 25, 2012: US Supreme Court Upholds Centerpiece of 2010 Arizona Immigration Law, Rejects Other Provisions (Reprinted with permission of ProCon.org)

Protestors debate Arizona’s immigration law outside the US Supreme Court

Source: “Poll: Supreme Court Ruling on Arizona Immigration May Alienate Latino Voters,” CSMonitor.com, June 25, 2012

“The Supreme Court on Monday delivered a split decision on Arizona’s tough 2010 immigration law, upholding its most hotly debated provision but blocking others on the grounds that they interfered with the federal government’s role in setting immigration policy.

The court unanimously sustained the law’s centerpiece, the one critics have called its ‘show me your papers’ provision, though they left the door open to further challenges. The provision requires state law enforcement officials to determine the immigration status of anyone they stop or arrest if they have reason to suspect that the individual might be in the country illegally.

The justices parted ways on three other provisions, with the majority rejecting measures that would have subjected illegal immigrants to criminal penalties for activities like seeking work.

The ruling is likely to set the ground rules for the immigration debate, with supporters of the Arizona law pushing for ‘show me your papers’ provisions in more states and opponents trying to overturn criminal sanctions for illegal immigrants…”

Mar. 7, 2013: Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act Adds Immigrants to Protected Classes (Reprinted with permission of ProCon.org)

“[T]he VAWA [Violence Against Women Act] provides a temporary visa and creates a pathway to legalization for undocumented immigrants who are the victims of domestic abuse. The idea being that immigrants who are subject to domestic violence don’t report it for fear of being deported or are abused though the threat of deportation. As a result, VAWA has been a useful tool for undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows by both speaking out against their abusers and securing legal status.”

Nov. 20, 2014: President Obama Announced Executive Action to Prevent Deportation of Millions of Immigrants in the United States Illegally (Reprinted with permission of ProCon.org)

“President Barack Obama imposed the most sweeping immigration reform in a generation on Thursday, easing the threat of deportation for some 4.7 million undocumented immigrants and setting up a clash with Republicans who vow to fight his moves.

In a White House speech, Obama rejected Republican arguments that his decision to bypass Congress and take executive action was tantamount to amnesty for illegal immigrants…

With 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, Obama’s plan would let some 4.4 million who are parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents remain in the country temporarily, without the threat of deportation.

Those undocumented residents could apply legally for jobs and join American society, but not vote or qualify for insurance under the president’s healthcare law. The measure would apply to those who have been in the United States for at least five years.

An additional 270,000 people would be eligible for relief under the expansion of a 2012 move by Obama to stop deporting people brought illegally to the United States as children by their parents.”

June 23, 2016: Supreme Court Deadlocked in 4-4 Vote on Challenge to Obama’s Immigration Executive Actions (Reprinted with permission of ProCon.org)

“The 4-4 tie leaves in place a lower court ruling that put the Obama administration’s DAPA program on hold.

If you remember, back in 2014, President Obama announced that he was expanding his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which shielded young people, commonly referred to as ‘dreamers,’ who were brought into the country illegally by their parents.

That program shielded some 1.1 million immigrants from deportation, while the expansion of that program and the creation of another — called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) — would have shielded some 4 million others.”

Jan. 25, 2017: President Trump Signs Executive Orders to Increase Border Patrol Forces and Begin Plans to Build Border Wall (Reprinted with permission of ProCon.org)

“Trump signed two executive orders directing the construction of a wall on the US-Mexico border, boosting border patrol forces and increasing the number of immigration enforcement officers who carry out deportations. The orders also call for stripping sanctuary cities of federal grant funding and announced sweeping new criteria that could make many more undocumented immigrants priorities for deportation…

The executive orders Trump signed Wednesday call for boosting the ranks of Border Patrol forces by an additional 5,000 agents as well as for 10,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers to carry out deportations. The orders noted that the increases were subject to Congress’s appropriation of sufficient funds…

Trump also outlined new criteria for determining which undocumented immigrants should be prioritized for deportation, putting hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions more people at the top of the federal government’s list of people to deport.

Any undocumented immigrant convicted or simply charged with a crime that hasn’t been adjudicated could be deported under the Trump administration’s new policy… New priorities for deportation under Trump also include any undocumented immigrants who abuse public benefits, or simply those considered ‘a risk to public safety or national security… in the judgment of an immigration officer.'”

Jan. 27, 2017: President Trump Signs Immigration Executive Order Suspending Entry of People from Seven Predominantly Muslim Countries and all Refugees (Reprinted with permission of ProCon.org)

President Trump signs the “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” executive order.

Donald J. Trump, Facebook Post, facebook.com, Jan. 27, 2017

“President Trump on Friday afternoon approved a sweeping executive order that suspended entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely, and blocked entry into the United States for 90 days for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. It also barred green card holders from those countries from re-entering the United States, the Department of Homeland Security said, though the administration said exemptions could be granted…

[The order also] defines what non-U.S. citizens should believe. ‘The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law.’ …[The order] prioritizes Christian refugees… [giving] priority to Christian refugees over Muslim ones… Mr. Trump has said that he means to favor Christian refugees.”

New York Times  “President Trump’s Immigration Order, Annotated,” nytimes.com, Jan. 28, 2017

[Editor’s Note: Between Jan. 28 and Feb. 1, 2017 US District Judges in New York, Boston, and Los Angeles issued temporary stays against the executive order, which allowed the entry of valid visa holders. On Feb. 2, the executive order was revised to allow Iraqi military interpreters to enter the United States. On Feb. 3 a Seattle US District Judge halted the implementation of the order nationwide, in response to which the Department of Justice filed an appeal that was denied, and the State Department and Department of Homeland Security stated they would not enforce the executive order. More appeals and lawsuits are expected.]


Deportation Nation: A Timeline Of Immigrant Criminalization | Deportation Nation. (2014). Deportation Nation RSS. Retrieved June 1, 2014, from http://www.deportationnation.org/multimedia/deportation-nation-a-timeline-of-immigrant-criminalization/

Entrance and Deportation as Social Control Mechanisms: A Look at U.S. Immigration Historiography: The Hampton Institute. (2014). Entrance and Deportation as Social Control Mechanisms: A Look at U.S. Immigration Historiography I The Hampton Institute. Retrieved June 1, 2014, from http://www.hamptoninstitution.org/immigration-historiography.html#.U4u8UxaX-lI

Hinson, S., Healey, R., & Weisenberg, N. (2014). Race, Power, and Policy: Dismantling Structural Racism. . Retrieved June 1, 2014, from http://www.strategicpractice.org/system/files/race_power_policy_workbook.pdf

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