Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Banner Image

Administrative Law Research: Immigration Concentration Class Site

Immigration and Nationality Act

There is a long history of immigration laws in the United States. Click here for a immigration law timeline from which lists major events, court cases, and federal acts.

Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)

Our modern immigration law system was created by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). This 1952 act collected all the immigration-related U.S.C. sections that were scattered throughout the United States Code and reorganized them into the current structure. It repealed some of the more obvious discriminatory provisions in immigration law.

It is a huge 120 page act with 8 public law titles and 407 sections.

The INA has been amended many times over the years, but the basic structure of immigration law is still the same.


Major Immigration Acts Amending the INA

The INA has been amended numerous times. The following are some of the more important acts.

Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 (Hart-Celler Act)

This law set the main principles for immigration regulation still enforced today. It applied a system of preferences for family reunification (75 percent), employment (20 percent), and refugees (5 percent) and for the first time capped immigration from the within Americas. 

Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) (1986)

To address the problem of unauthorized immigration, Congress implemented through bipartisan agreement a multi-pronged system that provided amnesty for established residents, increased border enforcement, enhanced requirements of employers, and expanded guestworker visa programs.

Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) (1996)

Building on the steps taken with IRCA in 1986, IIRIRA further empowered federal authorities to enforce immigration restrictions by adding resources for border policing and for verification of employment credentials. 

Parallel Citation of Immigration Statutes

In certain areas of law, courts and lawyers have the habit of referring to laws by the original public law popular name and section number. Immigration law is one of these areas!

Generally when you cite an immigration U.S.C. section, you want to provide parallel citations and cite both the U.S.C. section and the popular name/public law section of the original act.

How to find parallel citations will be discussed in the section about the popular name table.

Case Law Example - 205 F.3d 837