The historian Theodore White, one of the foremost chroniclers of the Kennedy and Johnson eras, described the Immigration Act of 1965 as “probably the most thoughtless of the many acts of the Great Society.” That law, which remains the basis for our immigration policy today, resulted in “a stampede, almost an invasion,” White wrote in 1982.
This past Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of President Johnson signing the 1965 Immigration Act into law. The results of this “thoughtless” law have radically reshaped the United States over the past half century and will continue to do so even more if it remains the core of our immigration policy for another 50 years.
Because of the Immigration Act of 1965:
- We have admitted 59 million immigrants to the country and our population is 72 million people larger than it would have otherwise been.
- Our foreign born population has grown from 9.6 million in 1965 to nearly 45 million today.
- We created endless chains of extended family migration. As a result, the foreign born population is generally less educated, lower skilled, and lower income. More than half of immigrant-headed households rely on some form of welfare.
- Things will only get worse in the coming 50 years. By 2065 our foreign born population is projected to reach 78 million and immigration will be directly responsible for an additional 103 million people in our country. Nearly all of those admitted will arrive without regard to their education and skill levels.
These are the results of our legal immigration policies!
A half century of mindless mass immigration is enough. It is long past time for thoughtful immigration reform. First, we need to define a clear national interest objective for immigration and then design a policy that advances those goals.