Thursday, December 12, 2013

Biden's ancestors probably came here legally

Biden is probably wrong to say that his ancestors were illegal immigrants. Biden's exact words were: "My great-great grandparents came escaping the famine and they didn’t all come here legally."

The Irish famine he referred to took place between 1845 and 1852. At that time, the U.S. had open borders. That is, there were no legal restriction on any immigration. This country had open borders for its first century of existence. The first immigration restriction was in the Page Act of 1875. But the Page Act just barred Asian immigrants and convicts. Following the Page Act, all of the immigration restrictions in the remainder of the 19th century were directed against Chinese people, not the Irish. Specifically, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the Geary Act of 1892 (which extended the Chinese Exclusion Act that was set to sunset after 10 years and made the restrictions on Chinese people even more strict). Even entering the 20th century, there weren't any law that specifically restricted immigrants because they were from Ireland until the imposition of worldwide immigration quotas by the Emergency Quota Act of 1921.

One thing I keep wishing someone would ask some leader of the Tea Party or another "patriot" movement that advocates returning the country to the place envisioned by the founders is whether they want to return to open borders. I haven't seen anyone ask that question yet.

(via Memeorandum)