The 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act Turns 50

Fifty years ago President Lyndon Johnson signed the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), forever changing the U.S. immigration system. It went into effect 47 years ago yesterday, June 30, 1968.

With the backdrop of the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act earlier in the decade, the justification for excluding many immigrants from outside western Europe began to crumble. The 1965 legislation removed quotas based on national origin and set in place a system based primarily on family reunification and economic contribution. The “melting pot” was expanded to include more immigrants from Africa, Latin America, and Asia. This significantly changed the demographics of the United States.

As Johnson signed the legislation in October 1965 on Liberty Island in New York, he said it “corrects a cruel and enduring wrong in the conduct of the American nation.” Furthermore, he stated that “for over four decades the immigration policy of the United States has been twisted and has been distorted by the harsh injustice of the national origins quota system.”

In his signing statement Johnson said that only three countries were allowed to supply 70 percent of all immigrants. The 1965 act undid this “deep and painful flaw in the fabric of American justice.” He went so far as to call the quota system “un-American.”

Read the rest on Sanctuary from Misrule here.

Do Immigrants Increase Crime? No, They Don’t

The recent DC Mansion Murders case has fanned opposition to immigration on the grounds that immigrants commonly commit crimes.

However, as Niskanen Center immigration policy analyst Dave Bier writes today in The Hill, concerns over immigrant crime are overblown and that any valid concerns would be better addressed by altering enforcement priorities.

In anti-immigrant circles immigrants are portrayed as likely criminals. But government data show that immigrants have a lower incarceration rate than native-born Americans and are generally less likely to commit crimes. These facts explain why immigrant-heavy communities have lower crime rates.

Read the rest on Sanctuary from Misrule here.

Marriage Equality: Don’t Let the Good Become the Enemy of the Perfect

It’s about damn time. The rest of the United States finally caught up to the libertarians on June 26 when the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide.  It only took 43 years but it looks like the authoritarian right is losing influence, as young people grow increasingly skeptical of power structures. Let’s celebrate this victory accordingly and appreciate the justice achieved by so many Americans who can now marry.

But let’s not allow the good to become the enemy of the perfect. Elizabeth Tate reminds us, “The very act of calling it ‘gay rights’ erases the identity and experiences of everyone else within the queer community (gay is only one identity and marriage equality does not help bisexual folks, transgender folks, and many others.)”

We mustn’t dismiss the identity of some marginalized groups when discussing or fighting for other, related marginalized groups, even if they are both mentioned in the same, common acronym. The acronym “LGBTQIA” encompasses a wide subset of oppressed minorities; boiling it all down to merely one letter of the acronym when others are suffering in their own distinct ways is counter-productive.

Tate also reminds us that too much focus on the important issue of marriage equality can overlook other issues facing the LGBTQIA community. Police abuse is a life-threatening problem that disproportionately affects the trans community, especially trans people of color. While the Stonewall Riots were largely fought by people of color, Tate points out the face of the LGBTQIA community in the mainstream is often reduced to a “a gay, white, cisgender man.”

Read the rest on the Center for a Stateless Society here.