53 pages 1 hour read

Jessica Goudeau

After the Last Border:Two Families and the Story of Refuge in America

Nonfiction | Biography | Adult | Published in 2020

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Ideological Context: Immigration Policy in the US

In the aftermath of World War II, the US opened its doors to thousands of refugees from Europe. Reversing course from a policy of exclusion, the US overhauled its immigration laws in 1965. Priority in admission was henceforth given to refugees, merit-based applicants, and the families of those already in the US. While the US led the world in the acceptance of refugees in the 1960s and 1970s, it did so on an ad hoc basis. In 1980, the Refugee Act, which was a bipartisan bill, created a permanent and stable system for the identification, vetting, and resettlement of refugees. Each year, the president would set a ceiling for the numbers of refugees that could be admitted via this program. Although immigration policy is politically divisive, there was widespread and bipartisan support for the admission of qualified refugees until 2015.

Refugees are distinguished from asylum seekers, who present themselves in the country or apply directly for asylum. From 2000 through 2022, approximately 40% of asylum seekers have been accepted (Uribe, Maria Ramirez. “Fact Check: What Percentage of Immigrants are Granted Asylum in the U.S.?WRAL News, 2023). Qualified refugees, in contrast, are referred to the US by the United Nations (UN).