Spotlight: Immigration in the 1980s
Immigration Act of 1965
- Maintained limit on immigration, and had some restriction on Latin American Immigrants, but allowed immigrants from Europe, Asia, and Africa to enter on an equal basis.
- Term coined by political analyst Kevin Phillips. Southeast and Southwest, particularly Texas, Florida, and California. Population exceeded Northern states, and political strength grew.
Who Started the Fire?
When referencing to the fire of immigration that impacted the 80s, you could argue Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 was what started the fire. This act lifted restrictions on immigration that previously favored Europeans. 7 Million immigrants from Latin America, Asia, and other countries flooded into the United States during the 80s as a result. While passed in the 60s, this act had great repercussions on the 80s.
8.3: Postwar economic and demographic changes had far-reaching consequences for American society, politics, and culture.
WHERE IT ALL STARTED
To understand why the 80s experienced such an identifiable demographic shift you must first know what lead up to it. It's roots are in the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which lifted restrictions on immigrants nationality. This Act opened the door to allow Immigrants from Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East. 7 Million immigrants came into the U.S. during the 1980s due to this Act.
Another Notable group of Latino Immigrants were poor cuban Immigrants, or "marielitos", as well as other less fortunate immigrants from Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Peru.
Immigration was a force present since the 1960s, and covered a period where immigration greatly increased, both legal and illegal. This period started after the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 and caused increased immigration from Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East.
As for the Sunbelt's growth, it had pull factors for agricultural work for Latin Immigrants and warm climate for those northerners moving south.
The Immigration Reform and Control Act (1986)
- Become a legal immigrant which makes you a temporary resident alien (TRA).
- Become a permanent resident alien (PRA) 18 months after becoming a TRA.
- Become naturalized (become a U.S. Citizen) after 5 years.
This provision was overseen by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) who proceeded applications for legalization. This provision was very successful in legalizing immigrants, particularly from Latin America.
The Sun Belt
This also caused a political shift to the Sunbelt, as evident by the North and Mideast losing 17 seats in congress to South and West in the 1980s.
Cities in the North raised their taxes more than the South and West due to their rising industry and population as a side effect of immigration. The Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition questioned if it was possible for the South and West to rebuild what the north already had, and sparked debate between the two sides.