Many countries have had more than their fair share of struggle over immigration. The United States specifically, being a country that attracts many dreamers, has had a very large number of immigration-related acts and laws in order to control its intake of foreigners. Before the writing of the Constitution, there really were not any laws or stipulations as to a naturalization process, if there were to be some at all. At that time, the nation was still growing its small population of a single demography.

Article 1, Section 8, Clause 4 of the US constitution defined the power of congress to set a uniform rule of naturalization ("Constitution Article 1"). This was soon followed by the Naturalization Act of 1790, which gave the first official rules for who could be naturalized. The act itself stipulated that: 

  • Those who could be naturalized must have been “free white persons of good moral character.”
  • Citizenship did not “descend to persons whose father had never been a resident.”
  • The prospective citizen must have lived in the country for two years.
  • They must have lived in the state of which they wished to become a citizen for one year.
  • To complete the process, the person must take an oath of allegiance to the constitution of the United States (Dierks).
For some, immigration then would have been fairly easy. The first immigration quota laws came in with the Immigration Act of 1924. This act, although it seemed very numerical and fair, caused a huge drop in the immigration of only certain groups. These groups were generally those who were "undesirable immigrants." Many of the laws' supporters were actually influenced by Madison Grant’s book The Passing of the Great Race; Madison Grant was an eugenicist and a supporter of racial hygiene (Smith). The act itself dictated that:
  • For any given country, the number of immigrants coming to America could only be 2% of the population of the people of that ethnicity living in the United States at the time. However, this was only to be maintained until June of 1927 (United States Government).
  • After June of 1927, a fixed percentage would no longer be used, and the total immigration for the entire world was then limited to 150,000.
  • Preference would be held for certain relatives of US residents. Unmarried children, parents, and spouses over the age of 21 were preferred over non-related immigrants.
  • The quota laws did not apply to emigrants of western-hemisphere countries ("Immigration Act of 1924").

This act was not the first nor the last immigration regulation; however, it could possibly be considered the first to be both very limiting and very biased.