We Know Our History
January 30, 2017
At the IHRC, we know our immigration history. That history provides many examples of U.S. laws that banned immigrants and refugees on the basis of race, national origin, class, and political ideology. Other laws made it harder for women and LGBT immigrants to gain admission. That history also provides many examples of immigrants, refugees, organizations, faith leaders, civil rights advocates, lawyers, and everyday Americans protesting against these laws and making their voices heard.
Over time, U.S. presidents and the Congress repealed many of these policies. They called them "historic mistakes" and criticized them for their blatant discrimination or discriminatory intent. They argued that such laws tarnished American ideals, contradicted our long record of welcoming immigrants and refugees, and imperiled our foreign relations. In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Immigration and Nationality Act. This law, which still governs immigration into the U.S. today, abolished discriminatory national origins quotas and explicitly prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, sex, nationality, place of birth, or place of residence in the U.S. government's decisions to issue immigrant visas.
Previous generations of immigrants and refugees helped us build the IHRC. We rely on today's immigrants and refugees to help us preserve the story of immigration for future generations. At the IHRC, we will continue to support research, teaching and learning, and programming for the public good and to be both an educational and a community resource. We stand with immigrants and refugees and condemn repeating the mistakes of the past.
Director, Immigration History Research Center
Program Coordinator, Immigration History Research Center