1941: Utilizing secret date provided from the 1940 census, Franklin Roosevelt establishes Executive Order 9066. It forces 110,000 Japanese-Americans – as well as 2,200 Latin Americans of Japanese descent, mostly residents of Peru – into concentration camps. Fred Korematsu challenges the policy before the Supreme Court, which decides that compulsory exclusion is justified. German-Americans are not affected, nor are Japanese-Americans in Hawaii, who are deemed necessary to the war effort.
1942: Addressing a severe shortage of farm workers, the government establishes the Bracero Program, which ultimately imports over four million temporary agricultural laborers from Mexico. However, by excluding women, it guarantees that women and children have no access to legal routes of migration and can only follow their men illegally. The result is a bifurcated labor system; one is legal and male, and the other is unlawful, female and full of children.
1943: Congress repeals the Chinese Exclusion Act, but it limits Chinese immigration to 105 persons per year. Race riots occur in over a dozen cities. Thousands of white servicemen rampage for a week through East Los Angeles, attacking Latinos in the “Zoot Suit Riots.” Police arrest only Latinos.
1945: The War Brides Act permits immigration of Asian spouses and children of American servicemen. Among the 100,000 persons admitted are 1,500 German scientists and spies, including many Nazis.
1946: Congress grants naturalization rights and small immigration quotas to Asian Indians and Filipinos. After the war, half of the Japanese Latin Americans who had been held in the camps are deported to Japan when their home countries refuse to take them back.
1948: The Displaced Persons Act allows for up to 200,000 European refugees who have reached certain safe zones by certain dates to be admitted to the U.S. It deliberately discriminates against some 250,000 Jews who have not yet reached those zones by Dec 22, 1945.
1948-1960: HUAC engages in a reign of terror that demonizes much political activity and speech as “un-American.” The FBI investigates thousands of citizens, resulting in hundreds fired from government and academia, many suicides and the Hollywood blacklist.
1949: After the Chinese Revolution, 5,000 educated, anti-Communist Chinese receive refugee status.
1950: The Internal Security Act bars members of communist or fascist organizations. By then, the former Nazis scientists have been admitted and naturalized. Amendments to the 1948 law extend the total allotment of visas for displaced persons to 400,000, including 80,000 Jews. The McCarran Act requires Communist organizations to register with the government and have their literature stamped as propaganda. It bans Communists from holding passports or government jobs and establishes a control board to investigate persons suspected of joining such groups, members of which cannot become citizens. Immigrants found in violation of the act can have their citizenship revoked. Six concentration camps are built to hold communists, peace activists and others deemed a threat if the government declares a state of emergency.
1950-1980: At least 14 predominantly African-American churches will be bombed or burnt down across the South.
1952: The Immigration and Nationality Act abolishes all racial restrictions. Japanese Americans and Korean Americans are allowed to naturalize. However, these countries receive only small, token quotas of about 100 people per year. The law defines three types of immigrants: those with special skills or relatives of U.S. citizens who are exempt from quotas; average immigrants; and refugees. It again bars suspected subversives, including former members of the Communist Party, even those who had not been associated with the party for decades.
1953: The Refugee Relief Act admits more persons from Southern Europe, including 60,000 Italians, 17,000 Greeks and 45,000 from communist countries. Applicants undergo a thorough security screening and must show a guaranteed home and job. President Eisenhower issues Executive Order 10450, under which 5,000 federal employees are fired as suspected homosexuals.
1954: Ellis Island closes. With most former white farmers having returned from war, Operation Wetback deports over 250,000 Mexicans. The Border Patrol changes its language from “policing unsanctioned laborers” to “policing criminal aliens.”
1957: Utah becomes the last state to permit Native Americans to vote.
1961: Residents of Washington, D.C. receive the right to vote in presidential elections. The 1960s will see 160 riots.
1965: The Voting Rights Act enfranchises racial minorities and prohibits poll taxes. The Immigration and Nationality Act abolishes “national origins” as the basis for allocating immigration quotas, thus opening the doors to immigrants from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. It creates a seven-category preference system giving priority to relatives of U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents and professionals and other individuals with specialized skills, but for the first time it limits immigration from Mexico to 20,000/year. This results in the beginning of large-scale illegal immigration. The INS continues to deny entry to homosexuals on the grounds that they are “mentally defective” or have a “constitutional psychopathic inferiority.” Blacks riot in Watts (Los Angeles).
1966: The Supreme Court prohibits tax payment and wealth requirements for voting in state elections. The Cuban Adjustment Act simplifies and expands possibilities for Cuban immigration, without mentioning any other Latin American country.
1967: The Bracero Program ends. Thousands of “Sundown Towns” still exist. There are sixteen major race riots.
1968: Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated; 125 riots follow across the country.
1969: President Richard Nixon launches Operation Intercept, requiring customs agents to search every vehicle entering the U.S. for drugs. It throws border crossings into chaos and ends after three weeks. The Stonewall riots in New York begin the modern fight for LGBT rights. HUAC becomes the House Committee on Internal Security.
1970: Congress passes the Equal Rights Amendment and sends it to the state legislatures with a seven-year deadline to acquire ratification.
1971: Adults aged 18 through 21 receive the right to vote. The 1970s will see 16 riots.
1973: Enrollment at Indian boarding schools reaches its highest point, 60,000. The Wounded Knee Incident occurs. Activists at the Pine Ridge Reservation occupy the land for over two months. A judge rules that sexual orientation alone cannot be the sole reason for termination from federal employment.
1974: Residents of the District of Columbia regain the right to vote for mayor and city council but still lack voting representation in Congress.
1975: The Pine Ridge shootout occurs. The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act calls for decentralizing students from boarding schools to community schools. Many large schools will remain open until the early 1990s. The Civil Services Commission announces that it will consider applications by gay people on a case by case basis. Congress ends the House Committee on Internal Security.
1976: President Gerald Ford terminates Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 and apologizes for the internment of the Japanese Americans. It is revealed that the Indian Health Service had sterilized 3,400 Native American Indian women without their permission between 1973 and 1976. North Carolina alone had sterilized 7,600 people, 40% of whom were minorities, between 1929 and 1974. Over a third of Puerto Rican women had been sterilized since the 1930s. Twenty thousand had been sterilized in California.
1978: Jimmy Carter approves $4.3 million to build a fence on the U.S.-Mexico border. White supremacist groups establish camps and train hundreds of vigilantes. Federal authorities ignore these paramilitary groups accosting migrants in the desert and investigate the priests, nuns and others involved in the Sanctuary Movement. The militia camps will expand well into the 21st century.
1979: The ERA fails to receive enough support in the states before its deadline.
1980: Carter appoints a commission to investigate the internment of the Japanese Americans. It concludes that the decisions to incarcerate them occurred because of “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership,” and that the military had lied to the Supreme Court.
1980-2000: Successive administrations will allow massive immigration of Cubans while turning back those seeking political refuge from El Salvador and Guatemala. Defining the Haitian boat people (as opposed to Vietnamese boat people) as economic rather than political refugees allows the government to refuse asylum to thousands and immediately deport them, even as Cubans and Vietnamese find housing and jobs. Israelis are another special case, with unlimited immigrant privileges, unique in the Middle East.
1983: Corrections Corporation of America becomes the first for-profit prison company.
1985: Ronald Reagan attempts a partial border closure with Operation Intercept II. It ends quickly. The Philadelphia police use airplanes to drop bombs on black radicals, destroying an entire black neighborhood.
1986: Congress gives amnesty to 3 million undocumented immigrants already in the country and makes it illegal to knowingly hire or recruit illegal immigrants. Thousands of businesses and individuals will ignore the new law.
1988: The Civil Liberties Act pays $20,000 each in reparation to tens of thousands of Japanese-American survivors of the internment camps. The government, however, refuses to pay Japanese-Latin Americans, who then file suit.
1990: Congress revises all grounds for exclusion, including homosexuality, and ends the 1906 English language requirements. It increases total immigration to 700,000/year for 1992–94, and 675,000/year after that. It provides family- and employment-based visas and a lottery for immigrants from “low admittance” countries. In also creating temporary protected status for those unable to return home because of ongoing armed conflicts or environmental disasters, it specifically benefits El Salvadorans. The Border Patrol begins to erect physical barriers in its San Diego sector, ultimately erecting fourteen miles of fencing. The numbers of female legal immigrants reach parity with numbers of males. Lake Forest, Illinois ends its anti-Jewish and anti-African-American housing covenants.
1991 to 2000: The U.S. admits more legal immigrants, (ten to eleven million), than in any previous decade.
1990-2019: At least 48 predominantly African-American churches will be bombed or burned across the South.
1993: Bill Clinton begins Operation Hold the Line and Operation Gatekeeper, which focus on intercepting illegal entries at the border itself. Then, with the “Prevention Through Deterrence” strategy, the Border Patrol attempts to control immigrant movement by rerouting it away from urban ports of entry and into wilderness areas, thus heightening the risks. These programs cause at least 7,000 deaths and countless disappearances without halting the mass movement of people.
1993-2017: Joe Arpaio, Sheriff of Arizona’s Maricopa County, oversees what the Justice Department will call the worst pattern of racial profiling in U.S. history, including the re-introduction of chain gangs, until he is convicted and removed.
1994: Congress passes the North American Trade Agreement, which floods the Mexican rural economy with subsidized U.S. corn, undermines government protections for poor farmers and forces two million Mexican farmers off the land. The result is a massive increase in migration northward of formerly independent farmers.
1995: Clinton institutes the “wet foot, dry foot policy.” For the next two decades, any Cuban caught on the waters between the two nations (with “wet feet”) is summarily returned to Cuba, while one who makes it to shore (“dry feet”) gets a chance to remain in the U.S. and qualify for expedited “legal permanent resident” status.
1996: Clinton authorizes mandatory detention of illegal immigrants. Every illegal alien convicted of a serious felony is to be placed in expedited removal proceedings. He also authorizes construction of a secondary layer of border fencing to support the already completed 14-mile primary fence. Construction stalls because of environmental concerns. The number of immigrants in detention increases dramatically.
1998: The Japanese-Latin Americans who had sued for reparations ten years before win their lawsuit and receive $5,000 each.
2001: The DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act, which would grant residency status to qualifying foreign immigrants who entered the United States as minors, is first introduced in Congress. It will be debated for the next eleven years.
2002: The G.W. Bush administration creates the Department of Homeland Security. By 2017 it will have over 240,000 employees, a $40 billion budget and persistent allegations of waste, brutality and fraud.
2003: Bush creates the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). It will eventually have 20,000 employees and a $7.6 billion budget. It will detain about 34,000 people on any given day, in over 500 detention centers, jails, and prisons nationwide, and deport two million people.
2005: DHS’s national database of “critical terrorist targets” grows to 300,000 localities, including thousands of non-critical sites such as doughnut shops and petting zoos. Indiana will have more than California and New York combined.
2005: Operation Streamline initiates a “zero-tolerance” approach to unauthorized border-crossing by engaging in criminal prosecution of immigrants. Up to 70 people are tried at the same time, sometimes wearing shackles in the courtroom. The number of prosecutions will increase from 4,000 annually in the early 2000s to 16,000 in 2005, 44,000 in 2010 (under Barack Obama) and 97,000 by 2013. The Minuteman Project, a borderlands militia, claims nearly 1,000 members. The Real ID Act waives local laws that interfere with construction of physical barriers at the borders. Fred Korematsu dies.
2006: California officially apologizes for deporting Mexicans between 1925 and1931. State legislatures introduce over 1,400 immigration measures – a number that exceeds the total of the previous ten years. The Secure Fence Act authorizes construction of additional fencing, vehicle barriers, checkpoints, lighting, cameras, satellites and drones along the southern border.
2007: 9,500 Native American children are still living in Indian boarding schools.
2008: Congress estimates that DHS has wasted roughly $15 billion in failed contracts.
2009-2016: Obama deports 2.5 million immigrants, 40% of whom have no criminal conviction. Blacks riot in Baltimore, Oakland, Anaheim, Ferguson, Milwaukee and Charlotte following police shootings.
2010-2017: Immigrants file over 1,200 sexual abuse complaints against ICE agents, only 2% of which it investigates.
2011: DHS completes some 650 miles of border walls and fences. The government will later admit that illegal border-crossers had simply found new routes, that the fences had been breached thousands of times, and that the Secure Fence Act had caused at least 2000 additional deaths. California first observes “Fred Korematsu Day.”
2012: Obama announces that he will stop deporting undocumented immigrants who match certain criteria included in the proposed DREAM Act. He initiates the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which will eventually register 750,000 young people who entered the country as children, the vast majority of whom speak fluent English, have no connection to the countries of their birth, and have committed (by definition) zero crimes. Meanwhile, some 2,000-3,000 non-citizen veterans, promised that they would automatically become citizens through their service, face deportation.
2013: The Supreme Court strikes down the heart of the Voting Rights Act, claiming that racism is history, and effectively enabling many states to disenfranchise minorities once again.
2015: Obama successfully opposes full voting rights for Samoans, citing the 1901 Insular Acts. This prevents areas with four million Americans (almost all of them people of color) living in Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa and the Virgin Islands from voting for President and contributes to a Republican victory in the next election.
2016: Customs and Border Protection (CBP) grows to 62,000 employees, with a $14 billion budget. Bernie Sanders calls on Obama to end the deportation raids and instead extend temporary protected status to families who have fled violence in Central America.
2017: Obama cancels the “wet foot, dry foot policy” before leaving office.
2017-2019: Trump calls for building more walls, stopping all Muslim immigration (except for Saudi Arabia and other client states), removing citizenship for American-born children of non-citizens, adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census, ending DACA, imprisoning migrants in a camp that had held Japanese-Americans during World War Two, and sending the military to stop Central American migrant caravans. It is revealed that Melania Trump’s parents were the beneficiaries of “chain migration.” The Supreme Court rules that immigrants can be detained indefinitely. Trump pardons Joe Arpaio. The government separates thousands of immigrant children from their parents, even from those legally applying for asylum. Comprehensive Health Services pays a $3.8 million fine for double-charging the government for its services. It continues to charge $750 per detainee per day.
2018: The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services alters its mission statement by removing a reference to the U.S. as a “nation of immigrants.” The Justice Department instructs U.S. attorneys’ offices to replace the term “undocumented immigrant” with “illegal alien.” The Supreme Court lifts an injunction against enforcing the Muslim travel ban and confirms that the original Korematsu verdict was “gravely wrong…”
2019: For the fourth time, the government prosecutes a humanitarian volunteer, threatening a 20-year sentence for providing food and water to immigrants on the border. The trial ends in a hung jury, but the government appeals. Investigators reveal a DHS intelligence-gathering operation in the San Diego-Tijuana area targeting journalists, immigration attorneys, and advocates working with the migrant caravans. California officially apologizes for its genocide of Native Americans. The NAACP warns African Americans to carry bail money with them if they travel to Missouri. Florida re-enfranchises ex-felons and then essentially re-institutes the poll tax. A Justice Department lawyer argues before Congress against soap, toothbrushes or beds for detained children. The Border Patrol expressly orders agents to not hug them or even to allow siblings to hug each other.
Trump declares a national emergency, giving him the power to direct $6.1 billion more from other federal agencies for the wall (though over a dozen states challenge the executive order in court), bars all asylum seekers who pass through a third country and insults Congresswomen of color.
The government spends nearly $3.8 billion on grants and contracts initiated since Trump became president related to “unaccompanied alien children.” Immigration officials use secretive and unreliable gang databases to deny asylum claims and removes live interpreters from immigration courts. Homeland Security admits that its use of abhorrent conditions at detention centers is to deter immigrants from entering the country. Two Facebook groups that post hatred of immigrants have over 10,000 Border Patrol members, including the Chief of the Agency. The U.S. women’s soccer team sues for gender and pay discrimination. Defying Congress, ICE opens three new migrant jails.
Today: Legal immigrants are at their highest level ever, at just over 37,000,000. The U.S. has spent over $100 billion in border and immigration control since 9/11. 50,000 Irish reside in the country illegally without fear of deportation. Although all its constituent sections have long been repealed, Chapter 7 of Title 8 of the United States Code is still headed, “Exclusion of Chinese.”
I would like to see the government admit that they were wrong and do something about it so this will never happen again to any American citizen of any race, creed, or color…If anyone should do any pardoning, I should be the one pardoning the government for what they did to the Japanese-American people…One person can make a difference, even if it takes forty years. – Fred Korematsu