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Visit this page monthly to learn about our most frequently asked questions regarding various topics regarding Immigration, Personal Injury, and more!

May 2020

A Brief History of Immigration in the U.S.

Unfortunately, the U.S. is built on a history of exclusion and expulsion. The justifications for exclusion and expulsion have evolved over time as well as the targeted groups of immigrants. The U.S has been able to garner a reputation of welcoming immigrants, while at the same time imposing many restrictions.

In 1849, the United States established its first anti-immigration political party known as the “Know-Nothing Party’. The party was created because there was an increase of German and Irish immigrants settling in the United States. Some of the complaints made against German and Irish immigrants were that they arrived sick and close to death because of the long voyage. The second immigration wave began in the 1880s when the United States entered a period of rapid urbanization and industrialization. Between 1880 and 1920, more than 20 million immigrants arrived in the United States. Although the majority of immigrants came from Central, Eastern, and Southern Europe, in 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed barring Chinese immigrants from entering the United States. The Chinese Exclusion Act was created in response to the anti-Chinese sentiment that was growing against successful Chinese laborers. This Act was the first in American history to target a particular immigrant group and place broad restrictions on their entry and path to naturalization. In May of 1924, the Immigration Act of 1924 was created to limit the number of immigrants allowed to enter the United States by establishing nationality quotas. The law favored immigrants entering from Northern and Western European countries while excluding immigrants from Asia.

There have been many more immigration waves, but the wave that is currently making a lot of headlines are those coming from Mexico. In 1929, the United States criminalized illegal entry and reentry as a way to control labor flows from Mexico. When the United States entered World War II, there was a massive labor shortage. The Bracero Program was created in 1942 which allowed Mexican agricultural workers to enter the United States to work temporarily. Now in 2020, the exclusion of Mexicans has expanded to the whole Latin American community. A false rhetoric of fear has been created by categorizing all who come from Latin American countries as extremely dangerous criminals. The justification for the mass detention and deportation has been for national security purposes. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the justification for mass detention and deportation has been adjusted to public safety.

The United States has a complicated history when it comes to immigration. The United States has evolved in way where it tends to favor exclusion rather than inclusion. It no longer openly embraces its mantra of “…give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free…”, which is associated with the Statute of Liberty. It now focuses on who can meet certain requirements to become American.

How does the stimulus check impact me?

Due to the recent Covid-19 Pandemic, the government has passed the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act. Under this Act, most taxpayers have or will receive up to $1,200. Taxpayers who are married filing jointly will receive $2,400. Taxpayers with dependents under the age of 17 years old will also receive an additional $500 for each qualifying dependent. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) continues to send out stimulus checks, but there may be delays due to additional information the IRS may need from the taxpayer.

According to the IRS website, U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents will receive the stimulus check for individuals or head of household filers. Taxpayers married filing jointly will receive the stimulus check if they are not dependent of another taxpayer and have a social security number. Those who are not eligible for the stimulus check include individuals who do not have a social security number and individuals who are nonresident aliens.

American citizens married to undocumented immigrants are ineligible to receive the stimulus check. Although a tax filer and their children use an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), the American citizen will not qualify to receive the stimulus check. A spokesman for one of the Republican Senators who helped create the bill has noted that American citizens who file separately from their undocumented spouse may still be eligible to receive the stimulus check. A married couple filing separately can receive $1,200 for the U.S. citizen taxpayer. However, a married couple filing separately may not receive the full amount because of different income limits based on marital status. Filing separate tax returns may also increase a family with children’s tax burden or eliminate the opportunity to secure a stimulus check for qualifying children. If the IRS used a married couple’s 2018 tax returns married filed jointly, they may be able to file a dispute with the IRS.

There are many concerns about whether submitting tax returns filed as “married filing separate” will affect an immigrant petition. Married couples may lawfully file tax returns as “married filing separate”. USCIS is primarily concerned with establishing a bona fide marriage. Tax returns are one of the many pieces of evidence USCIS looks at to make their determination.

Immigrant advocates at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund along with advocates from Villanova Law and Georgetown Law have filed separate lawsuits challenging the CARES Act. Plaintiffs include U.S. citizens married to undocumented immigrants and U.S. citizen children with undocumented parents. U.S. citizens married to undocumented immigrants argue the CARES Act violates their constitutional rights to free association, due process, and equal protection. U.S. citizen children of undocumented immigrants argue the CARES Act violates their due process and equal protection guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment.

Our law office will be watching this issue closely and will provide more information as it develops.

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