Monday, January 5, 2015
On January 3, 2015, the Immigration Law and Minority Group Sections of AALS held a joint program on the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Immigration Act (aka Hart-Cellar Act).
The 1965 Immigration Act is arguably the most successful federal civil rights law since Reconstruction. Before 1965, the immigrant stream was overwhelmingly white, and predominantly from the countries of Northern and Western Europe. Since 1965, a supermajority of immigrants have been people of color from Asia and Central and South America and the United States is expected to become a majority minority nation as a whole by 2043. However, the 1965 Immigration Act may have ended formal racial discrimination but it did not eliminate race as a critical and problematic concern in the administration of immigration law. Moreover, it also perpetuated discrimination based on sexual orientation and political opinion. It failed to account for the interests of Mexican migrant workers who had traveled to the United States for generations but were restricted under the new law. It also had the effect of giving Africans few opportunities to come to the United States.
The AALS panel on the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Act discussed, among other things, the historical context and contemporary implications of the law. The four speakers onthe panel were: Professors Ming Chen (Colorado), Gabriel "Jack" Chin (UC Davis), Kunal Parker (Miami) and Dean Kevin Johnson (UC Davis). The panel was moderated by Professor Maritza Reyes (FAMU). Professor Chen and Dean Johnson were selected from a Call for Papers that was sponsored by the Immigration and Minority Group Sections.