Illegal immigration has always been a hot topic in the U.S., but it is in the21st Century that it has gained an undeniable spotlight.
By the early 17th century, there were communities of European immigrants all over the Eastern seaboard of the United States. These included the British in New England, the Spanish in Florida, the Swedes in Delaware, the Dutch in New York, among others.
All immigrants to the U.S. come for a variety of reasons, including the ‘American Dream,’ religious freedom, and better economic opportunities. Others, for instance, African immigrants, came against their will as slaves. Either way, the U.S. has always been viewed as the land of milk and honey, the land of endless opportunities, and fresh beginnings.
For a clearer understanding of pictures of immigration demonstrations in the US and why there have been protests related to immigration issues, it is vital to get a historical perspective of immigration.
A Brief History of Immigration in the U.S
The Naturalization Act of 1790: The First Immigration Law in the U.S
In March 1790, Congress passed the first immigration law stating who should be given U.S. citizenship. This act allowed any ‘free white person of good character,’ who had been living in the United States for two years or longer to apply for citizenship.’ This meant that non-white residents didn’t enjoy fundamental constitutional rights like voting, testifying in court, or owning property.
After the war of 1812 between Britain and the U.S., the resulting peace led to a gush of immigrants from Western Europe. This led to the formation of the Know-Nothing-Party in 1849, the first American anti-immigration political party formed to counter the swelling numbers of Irish and German immigrants.
After the civil war, some U.S states had formed their own immigration laws, and in 1875, the Supreme Court gave the responsibility of making and enforcing immigration laws to the federal government.
Between 1880 and 1920, over 20 million immigrants arrived in the U.S, most of them from Central, Southern, and Eastern Europe. 2 million Jews and 4 million Italians were among them.
The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882
Today, many anti-immigration supporters always blame immigrants for reduced job opportunities for Americans and low wages. Interestingly, it didn’t start now. In the 1850s, Chinese workers had come to the U.S in droves working in garment factories, gold mines, agriculture, building railroads, etc.
This led to the Chinese Exclusion Act, which put broad restrictions on the Chinese and other immigrant groups.
The Immigration Act of 1891 further excluded groups who could enter the U.S, including polygamists, some criminals, and the diseased. The Federal Office of Immigration was also formed to oversee enforcement of immigration laws and coordinate immigration inspectors at the main ports of entry.
In January 1892, Ellis Island opened in New York Harbor. It was the first immigration station, and between 1892 and 1954, over 12 million immigrants passed through it.
The Increase in Illegal Immigration and the Formation of the U.S Border Patrol
In 1924, the government initiated numerical limits for immigrants. This led to increased numbers of illegal immigration, and the U.S. Border Patrol was formed, its mandate, to apprehend illegal immigrants from Mexico and Canada.
The Immigration and Nationality Act
President Lyndon B. Johnson will always be remembered for the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 that overhauled the U.S immigration system. The act ended the quota system initiated in the 1920s that was biased against some racial and ethnic communities.
While signing the bill, Johnson referred to the old system as ‘un-American,’ adding that it will correct a ‘cruel and enduring wrong in the conduct of the American Nation.’
The History of Pictures of Immigration Demonstrations in the United States
The Sensenbrenner Bill
On December 16, 2005, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the H.R. 4437, the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act. Wisconsin Congressman James Sensenbrenner sponsored this bill, hence the name.
This bill proposed erecting a border wall with Mexico, high penalties for hiring undocumented immigrants, criminalizing anyone who helped these immigrants, among other punitive measures.
Immigrants Rights Protests in the Spring of 2006
In 2006-2007, millions of people took part in protests against a proposed change to the American immigration policy through the Sensenbrenner Bill. On May 1, 2006, nearly 2.2 million protestors in the entire United States participated in massive labor strikes, marches, and boycotts.
The day was dubbed, ‘the day without immigrants,’ and it was an incredible display of power among immigrants, both undocumented and documented. This day was a culmination of an immigrant’s rights campaign that involved over 200 cities and towns.
This bill was a massive threat to undocumented immigrants. The massive protests experienced unbelievably huge attendances with Los Angeles having 650,000-700,000 protestors and Chicago with 400,000-750,000.
President Donald Trump’s Executive Orders and the Ensuing Protests in 2017
In 2017, President Trump issued two executive orders, including Executive Order 13769, and both orders were titled ‘Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.’
These orders curtailed travel and immigration from six mainly Muslim countries.
In the aftermath, thousands of protestors gathered at various airports in the U.S in January and February of 2017.
Some of the airports that experienced protests include New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, Dulles airport in Washington and other airports serving Denver, Dallas-Fort Worth, Philadelphia, Miami, Los Angeles, Detroit, Portland, Oregon, San Francisco and lots of cities.
Protests Against Trump’s ‘Zero Tolerance Policy’ on Immigration in 2018
On April 6, 2018, President Donald Trump’s administration implemented its ‘Zero Tolerance’ policy focusing on undocumented immigrants and which led to the separation of hundreds of immigrant children from their parents.
Consequently, in June, hundreds of rallies, marches, and protests took place across the U.S. with the main rallying call being ‘Families Belong Together.’ However, the main rally was in Washington, D.C. In Houston, Protesters chanted ‘No baby jails,’ outside the City Hall.
In Los Angeles, various celebrities attended the rallies, including singers John Legend and Cher.
2019 Protests Against Trump’s Immigration Raids
In July 2019, tens of thousands of protestors and activists turned up in demonstrations in cities across America, from New York, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, among others. These protests were against planned raids on illegal immigrants by the Trump administration. Night vigils outside detention centers were also part of the protests.
In the city of Denver, which has around 50,000 illegal immigrants, over 2,000 protestors demonstrated their support outside a detention center while calling for the closure of what they called ‘human concentration camps.’
Pictures of Anti-Immigration Demonstrations in the United States
While there are hundreds of Pictures of Immigration Demonstrations in the United States, there are also cases of anti-immigration rallies and protests. Some of the anti-immigrant demonstrations even attract extremist groups.
For instance, on March 13, 2018, members of a White supremacist group called Identity Evropa turned up at a pro-Mexican Border wall rally in San Diego. This rally was organized by the San Diegans for Secure Borders (SDSB), and it coincided with Trump’s viewing of the border wall prototypes.
Approximately 200 nativists, anti-immigration advocates, and public office candidates showed up at the rally.
On July 2, 2014, tens of anti-immigrant demonstrators carrying banners speaking out against illegal immigrants thwarted the attempts to transfer 140 undocumented Latin Americans to a detention center in California. They were en route to Murrieta, North of San Diego, to a border patrol holding facility.
From this article, it is clear that Pictures of Immigration Demonstrations in the United States do not only cover protestors against harsh immigration laws, but anti-immigrant advocates opposed to immigration into the United States.