Re: [S-R] Re: A Summary of the Immigration Laws of the United States from 1882
Thank you for your knowledgeable reply.
I found it interesting that immigration laws didn't even come into being until 1882.
Is it a fair question to ask, is the summaries enough to know about the laws in order to understand them? Or does one have to read the whole thing in order to get to the nuance of it? Would with in the law be such a thing as an age restriction that would not be considered important enough to be mentioned in the summary?
For the purpose of our discussions on Slovak-Roots it would seem that summaries might suffice. We are after all not a bunch of lawyers, our interest is how our ancestors immigration was affected by the laws and regulations of their days. So far we have had a lot of "hearsay" on what the rules and regulations were. My desire was to find what were those real regulations that were in effect.
If you can help us with something that is accessible on the internet it would be much appreciated.
Sent: Sunday, October 03, 2010 7:02 PM
Subject: [S-R] Re: A Summary of the Immigration Laws of the United States from 1882
Sorry, didn/t mean to sound flippant. U.S. immigration law appears in the U.S. Code, title 8, since 1952. Current editions are on the internet, but historical ones are not except through Law net sources (e,g. Lexis) or law libraries. You have to go there to read them or have internet access through universities. I know of no discussion of the matter that exists outside of scholarly books not available outside libraries. There are a good number of good histories of American immigration and its law. The earlier code of canon law (1917) is widely available on the internet, (in Latin of course).
What you cited are only the lists of laws, not the actual laws themselves. Relevant U.S. code is quite extensive.
The other major question is the issue of majority age itself. Most countries have a majority age for all sorts of activities, such as voting, marriage, candidacy for political office, hiring for labor, child labor laws, prosecution for felonies, and these change over time, and are subject to profound disagreements in our society, even today. Remember the large arguments about whether 18 year old persons ought to be allowed to vote in the U.S.? [Perhaps the best example is the question of statutory rape; unless there is a large difference in age, or position of authority between the two individuals, remember the widely publicised ones of teachers, almost no cases are brought to felony court, they are simply quietly ignored by prosecutors with consent of the individuals or parents; on the other hand there is a push to have murder majority age lowered back to age fourteen in a number of states.]
Each European nation also had their own notions of what constituted majority age during the great age of immigration.
It is clear that immigrant ships allowed young immigrants as young as 14 to leave European ports unaccompanied. What happened when they arrived in the U.S.? Until the 1920's there is no indication that any of them were rejected; they are simply listed in the manifests and admitted, regardless of law or immigration rule. They can be found reading almost any ship manifest of more than a few pages. Each manifest lists those not accepted for immigration for illness or other cause. Has anyone ever seen a denial for non majority age before 1924? Let me know if you find one.
Even today when a clear and absolute legal limit of age 18 is set for majority age for immigration, thousands of unaccompanied child immigrants are legally admitted to the U.S. each year by immigration judges as unavoidable exceptions. Foreign countries have no incentive whatever, regardless of their own majority age laws, to prevent them from getting on planes or ships if they have a ticket. If granted asylum or visas, they are then placed as foster children with willing American families. The INS works through major private charities who take in the children and oversee placement. I have not found accurate current statistics, but Catholic charities estimates that there are about 6,000 in process to admission at the present time. Probably just as many as were arriving annually at the beginning of the last century.
Law, custom, practice, practicality and human compassion seem to intermingle.
So a simple answer to the question is YES, very large amounts of young people have been arriving in U.S.,and accepted into our society, from colonial times to the present day.
--- In SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com, "Michael Mojher" <mgmojher@...> wrote:
> Dear CB,
> The problem there is not living near a university that has a Law Library.
> I pretty satisfied with my second posting on the laws.
> From: CurtB
> Sent: Sunday, October 03, 2010 4:04 PM
> To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
> Subject: [S-R] Re: A Summary of the Immigration Laws of the United States from 1882
> Not everything is on the internet. Go to your nearest University Law Librry.
> --- In SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com, "Michael Mojher" <mgmojher@> wrote:
> > Curt,
> > I am going to have to dig deeper into the immigration laws to see if there were any specific laws or regulations about age.
> > Or can you direct me to where you found the information about the pre-1920's age without restriction was as low as 14.
> > Michael
> > From: CurtB
> > Sent: Sunday, October 03, 2010 1:56 PM
> > To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
> > Subject: [S-R] Re: A Summary of the Immigration Laws of the United States from 1882
> > Michael,
> > Until the 1920's the age of majority was age 14 in European countries, based on ancient canon law which recognized that as the age at which males could marry, and usually the same in the U.S. It later moved to age 16, and now stands at age 18 in the U.S. for immigration purposes.
> > So prior to the 1920's you will find 14 to 17 year old persons travelling alone to the U.S. legally, and without restriction.
> > Unaccompanied minors still arrive in the U.S. in large numbers, though most are deported immediately. Those applying for asylum or visas are held for hearings before immigration judges. Several thousand are admitted each year.
> > Catholic Relief services is the largest settler of immigrant minors in American families
> > Curt B.
> > --- In SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com, "Michael Mojher" <mgmojher@> wrote:
> > >
> > > The link below is for the article: A Summary of the Immigration Laws of the United States from 1882. The website is interesting to explore.
> > >
> > > http://www.gjenvick.com/Immigration/LawsAndActs/SummaryOfImmigrationLaws.html
> > >
> > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
> > >
> > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- Just peeking in on this discussion. If you really do want to find a
law library, universities are not necessarily your only easy-to-find
option. Here in Massachusetts, and I hope in other states, trial
courts have law libraries that are open to the public, with real
librarians and everything (our tax dollars at work). Reference
librarians there can be emailed, and Lexis is available on site, they
offer a variety of things on the website. See if your state offers
this service too.
As for age of majority being 14 historically, here in the USA: Hard
to generalize across so much time and area. Fourteen was the age at
which one had certain legal rights, but not necessarily full adult
rights. As one small example, a fatherless child could chose his/her
own guardian at the age of 14, but still had to have a guardian, still
needed the guardian's permission to marry etc, in some times/places.
I think at 14 they could also sign documents as a witness. File
under: early American trivia.
Unfortunately, publicly available internet sources contain almost nothing about immigration legal or even social history, and policy and practice of immigration. The question is so complex that no American historian has ever undertaken a "history of immigration". Each one has just bit off a little piece. So it takes a good amount of reading at the nearest big public or college or university library. Reading the U.S. Code and/or Code of Federal Regulations is certainly not for the faint of heart, so it is not a good place to start. Here are some good summaries likely to be in local libraries or quickly available on interlibray loans.
U.S. immigration and naturalization law & issues: a documentary history. by Michael LeMay, et al. Greenwood Press, 1999.
Immigration and the politics of American sovereignty 1890-1990. by Cheryl Shanks. U. of Michigan Press, 1991.
The immigration act of 1924. by Peter Wang. R.& E. Associates. 1975.
And two U.S. gov. documents in most libraries:
An immigrant nation: U.S. regulation of immigration 1798-1991.
INS in 1991.
Grounds for excusion of aliens under the immigration and nationality act: historical background and analysis. House committee on the judiciary. 1988
Immigration and naturalization was the province of individual states until after a series of U.S. supreme court decisions after the civil war. Even then federal policy evolved slowly. Laws of naturalization and citizenship came first, and questions of immigration came last. Ellis Island didn't open until the 1890's. The first Federal acts were the exclusion acts for Chinese and Japanese immigrants on the West coast. European immigration was wide fairly wide open until the immigration act of 1924.
The question of how American law affected immigrants historically is probably no easier to answer than the current questions about "legal" and "illegal" immigration. I think current estimates are that about 12 million U.S. residents have immigrated outside of current regulations.
In SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com, "Michael Mojher" <mgmojher@...> wrote:
> Thank you for your knowledgeable reply.
> I found it interesting that immigration laws didn't even come into being until 1882.
> Is it a fair question to ask, is the summaries enough to know about the laws in order to understand them? Or does one have to read the whole thing in order to get to the nuance of it? Would with in the law be such a thing as an age restriction that would not be considered important enough to be mentioned in the summary?