U.S. Immigration and Migration

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How did immigration patterns shift in the 1970s and 1980s?

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The enactment of the Hart-Celler Act (Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965) and the Simpson-Mazzoli Act (Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986) impacted on the immigration trends to the United States during the 1970s and 1980s, respectively.

The Hart-Celler Act did away with the quota system that restricted and reduced immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe among other regions in an attempt to maintain the ethnic integrity of the United States population. This was replaced with the focus on skills and family relationships. This saw an increase in immigration of people from the once restricted regions such as Asia, Africa and the Middle East, according to the quota system, throughout the 70s.

The Simpson-Mazzoli Act was enacted in an attempt to reduce illegal immigration by requiring employers to declare their employees’ immigration status. The idea was that without job opportunities illegal immigrants would be deterred. However, statistics showed that the Act did not have significant effect on illegal immigration in the 80s.

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There were two main changes in the patterns of immigration in the 1970s and 1980s.  First, immigration increased dramatically.  Second, new kinds of people started to come to the United States.

Before the 1970s, immigration had not been as prevalent.  It had crashed, of course, during World War II.  Then it started to increase again.  By the end of the 1980s, immigration rates were almost double of what they had been during the 1960s. 

The origins of the immigrants to the United States changed in this time period as well.  Immigrants from two sources became much more prevalent.  First, there came to be many more immigrants from Asian countries.  Second, immigrants from Mexico came to be much more numerous as well. 

Thus, there were two major changes to immigration patterns in the 1970s and 1980s.

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