Immigration Laws And How They Have Changed

Immigration Law Has Undergone Many Changes

The first regulations that were ever imposed on aliens was the 1952 Immigration and Naturalization Act. The INS, as it was known, was a federal agency who’s duty it was to enforce immigration law. Since the attacks on the World Trade Center buildings this agency has been replaced by the Department of Homeland Security.

Under the heading of Homeland Security are three agencies that work hand in hand to enforce the now more stringent laws. There is the U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the U. S. Customs and Border Enforcement; and the U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. They are the driving force behind Homeland Security.

There are two ways in which a person can become a U. S. Citizen. The first way is by birth and the second is by naturalization. The alien person can be no younger than 18 years of age; be a resident of the U. S. By means of having a green card; and have residency of at least five years before applying for naturalization.

In cases where an alien has one parent that is a U. S. Citizen, or when an alien marries a citizen of the United States, this relative of the American can apply for citizenship based on their relationship. The U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will be the agency that decides on the ruling. If by chance the application should be denied, an appeal can be filed. If the appeal is denied a second time, the alien then has the right to take their appeal to the District Court.

The events of 9/11 saw the Patriot Act signed into law. The initial reason for enacting this ruling was for protection against terrorists. Still, this had a great impact on immigration law as well. Law enforcement agencies are now able to do a complete search of telephone, financial, and medical records as well as any computer correspondence. This same Act allows that any alien can be detained if there is any belief that they are part of a terror plot. These rulings have been questioned but they remain in effect to this day.

The Patriot Act and other legislation that has been passed since 9/11 has had a dramatic effect on the immigrant population. Laws are complicated and obtaining a fiance visa is more difficult due to the increase in regulation as well as other requirements that need to be met. It is advised that retaining an immigration lawyer would be in your best interests.


The U.S. government reacted to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 with several policy and law changes. Those changes have had an enormous and direct impact upon U.S. citizenship and immigration.

The most sweeping change after 9/11 was the U.S. Patriot Act, signed into law on September 26, 2001. While this Act was designed to protect against terrorism, it also has had a negative impact on immigrants. The Act allows law enforcement agencies more power to search telephone communications, e-mails, medical, financial, and other records. The Act limits restrictions on foreign intelligence gathering within the United States, and it gave more discretion to law enforcement and immigration authorities in detaining and deporting immigrants suspected of terrorism-related acts. The Act called for Special Registrations, deportations, fingerprinting and questioning of certain non-citizens, particularly males in certain age groups. The Act was was reauthorized by Congress in 2005.