Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965
What happened then?
On October 3, 1965, President Johnson signed the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, also known as the Hart-Celler Act. The Hart-Celler Act amended the Immigration & Nationality Act to abolish the discriminatory national-origin quotas that had been in place since the 1920s. The Hart-Celler Act instead put a preference system that focused on individuals’ family ties and skills in its place. This opened up the U.S. to immigrants of African and Asian descent, allowing non-Europeans to experience the American dream.
Why it still matters today?
There are approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. On November 20, 2014, the President announced a series of new executive actions on immigration. The actions provide temporary relief for four million to five million undocumented immigrants who have been in the U.S. for a long period of time and who have children who are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. Specifically, they include:
- A Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) Program, which would offer a legal reprieve to the undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have resided in the country for at least three years; and
- An expansion of the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that allowed young immigrants who are under 30 years old and were brought unlawfully as children, to apply for a deportation deferral.
What’s happening now?
Under the Administration’s November 20 executive actions, the expanded DACA program was expected to be implemented on February 25, 2015, while the DAPA program was projected to begin in May 2015. However, in the February 16, 2015 case Texas v. U.S, where Texas and 25 other states brought a claim challenging the constitutionality of the executive actions, the District Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled to temporarily halt the implementation of the two executive deferred action programs.
The Administration stated that it will comply with this decision and delay implementation of the program for an indefinite period of time. However, the Administration has emphasized its legal authority to implement these executive actions. 181 House Democrats filed an amicus brief in support of the executive actions to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which heard Texas v. U.S. on appeal on April 17, 2015. Additional amicus briefs in support of the President’s actions were filed by: 12 states and the District of Columbia; nine national immigration, civil rights and labor organizations; two national local law enforcement organizations and 27 heads of local law enforcement agencies; the National League of Cities; U.S. Conference of Mayors and 24 major city mayors.
Although the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill in the 113th Congress, House Republicans refused to allow the House to vote on that bill or on H.R. 15, the bipartisan bill that 197 Democrats supported. In the 114th Congress, Republicans in both Houses have failed to consider meaningful immigration legislation.
What needs to happen moving forward?
Congress must pass comprehensive immigration reform in the 114th Congress.
For more information, please visit: http://democrats.judiciary.house.gov/issue/immigration-reform