PERSPECTIVE: How did the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 change the United States?

The US Senate and House of Representatives during the 89th Congress amended the Immigration and Nationality Act to declare that “No person shall receive any preference or priority or be discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of his race, sex, nationality, place of birth, or place of residence.” [Full text] President Lyndon Johnson signed this immigration bill on October 3, 1965 at the Liberty Island in New York. [LBJ Speech]

Demographics: This legislation dramatically liberalized US immigration policy which previously limited entry into the country based on a national origins system that favored white Europeans. At that time, the US population consisted of only .5% Asians. Following the 1965 law, the influx of Asian immigrants gradually increased. Fifty years later, Asians (including Pacific Islanders) account for 6% of the US population and projected to be 14% of Americans by 2065. [Pew Research]


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