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Immigration Law Resources: Immigration Laws

This web guide brings together both print and electronic resources that are helpful in conducting immigration law research.

Immigration Laws

Provisions of the United States Code that apply to immigration include sections of:

Title 6: Domestic Security -- Including sections that deal with the powers and responsibilities of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Title 8:   Aliens & Nationality -- This is where the significant portion of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is codified.  The INA represents the bulk of the United States immigration law.

Title 18:  Crimes & Criminal Procedure -- Includes crimes related to immigration.


Title 22:  Foreign Relations -- Statutory sections that deal with the issuance of visas and consular affairs.

Title 29:  Labor --  Statutory sections that deal with the employment eligibility of immigrants.

Title 42:  Public Health & Wellfare -- Includes the statutory sections relating to medical exams required of immigrants to America.

The United States Code can be browsed on the FDsys website HERE

Historical Immigration Acts (prior to the INA)

Note: The links to HeinOnline are only available off-campus for law students and faculty.

United States Constitution, Section Eight -- Powers of Congress (1787).  Allows Congress to establish a "uniform Rules of Nationalization.  A copy of the US Constitution can be found HERE

Naturalization Act of 1790. 1 Stat. 103. Established the process to become a naturalized citizen, including a two year residence requirement; a copy is available from the University of Washington-Bothell library website HERE

Naturalization Act of 1795. Session II, Chap. 20, 1 Stat. 414. Established updated procedures for becoming a naturalized citizen, including a five year residence requirment; a copy is available from the University of Washington-Bothell library website HERE

Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. (Included three immigration-related acts.)

  • Naturalization Act. Session II, Chap. 54, 1 Stat. 566. Established updated procedures for becoming a naturalized citizen, including a 14 year residence requirement; a copy is available from the University of Washington-Bothell library website HERE
  • Alien Act. Session II, Chap. 58, 1 Stat. 570. Gave President authority to expel dangerous aliens; a copy is available from the University of Washington-Bothell library website HERE
  • Alien Enemies Act. Session II, Chap. 66, 1 Stat. 577. Gave President authority to detain or expel aliens during times of war; a copy is available from the University of Washington-Bothell library website  HERE

Act to Encourage Immigration of 1819. Session I, Chap. 246, 13 Stat. 385. Established the Commissionor of Immigration, made employment contracts with foreign laborors binding and exempted foreigners from mandatory military service; a copy is available from the University of Washington-Bothell library website  HERE

Steerage Act of 1819. Session II, Chap. 46, 3 Stat. 488. Set certain procedures for ships who brought immigrants to America; a copy is available from the University of Washington-Bothell library website HERE

Immigration Act of 1875. Session II, Chap. 141 18 Stat. 744. Provided for the exclusion of prostitutes and convicts; a copy is available from the University of Washington-Bothell library website HERE

Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Session I, Chap. 126, 22 Stat. 58. Provided for the exclusion of Chinese laborers for ten years; a copy is available from the University of Washington-Bothell library website HERE

Immigration Act of 1882. Session I, Chap. 376, 22 Stat. 214. Excluded some people likely to become public charges and provided for a head tax; a copy is available from the University of Washington-Bothell library website HERE

Alien Contract Labor Act of 1885. Session II, Chap. 164, 22 Stat. 332. Discourages labor contracts for foreign workers, and excludes foreign workers if they would depress the job market; a copy is available from the University of Washington-Bothell library website HERE

Immigration Act of 1891. Session II, Chap. 551, 26 Stat. 1084. Established  procedures for inspection of immigrants, provided for exclusion based on disease, criminal behavor, and other traits, and created the Bureau of Immigration. Illegally arriving aliens are to be deported within two years of arrival; a copy is available from the HeinOnline database HERE

Immigration Act of 1903. Session II, Chap. 1012, 32 Stat. 1213. Added to the types of people excluded including idiots, epileptics and insane people and prohibits the importation of women for prostitution. Illegally arriving aliens are to be deported within three years of arrival; a copy is available from the HeinOnline database HERE

Immigration Act of 1907. Session II, Chap. 1134, 34 Stat. 898. Added to the types of people excluded, including people with physical or mental defects or "defective persons" that might not be able to find work. Established the Dillingham Commission to study current immigration trends, a copy of is available from the HeinOnline database HERE The Dillingham Commission found the rise of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe was a threat to American culture and should be limited; a copy of the report can is available on the Harvard University Library Open Collections program website HERE

Asiatic Barred Zone Act of 1917. Session II, Chap. 29, 39 Stat. 874. Increased the head tax, required illegally arriving aliens to be deported within five years of arrival, provided for the exclusion of all natives of Asia-Pacific countries, and created a literacy requirement for admission; a copy is available from the HeinOnline database HERE

Alien Enemies Act of 1918. Session II, Chap. 50. 40 Stat. 531. Ammends the Alien Enemies Act of 1798 to extend its scope to women; a copy is available from the HeinOnline database HERE

Passport Act of 1918. Session II, Chap. 81, 40 Stat. 559. Provides for the the denial of entry or exit during war time for certain people if such action would be contrary to public safety; a copy is available from the HeinOnline database HERE

Quota Act of 1921. Session I, Chap. 8, 42 Stat. 5. In response to fears raised in the Dillingham Commission Report that excessive immigration from southern and eastern Europe was threatening American culture, a national origin quota system is established that limits annual immigration to 3% of foreign born persons of each nationality residing in the United States as enumerated in the 1910 census and maints the exclusion of persons from the Asiatic Barred Zone; a copy is available from the HeinOnline database HERE

National Origin Quota Act of 1924. Session I, Chap. 190, 43 Stat. 153. Established a permanent national quota system, providing for limits on annual immigration to 2% of foreign born persons of each nationality residing in the United States as enuerated in the 1890 cenus, and setting a limit of 150,000 immigrants admitted annually, established a preference system for awarding immigration visas; a copy is available from the HeinOnline database HERE

Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (The McCarran-Walter Act). P.L. 82-414, Session I, Chap. 477, 66 Stat. 163, 8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq.This is the initial version of what is known as the "modern" INA; a copy is available from the HeinOnline database HERE

State Immigration Laws

National Conference of State Legislatures
List of state laws relating to immigration