This page provides a chronology to assist the user in contextualizing the documents found on the "U.S. Bishops and Immigration" website. It includes links to related documents found throughout the site.

  • 1790:
    • The Naturalization Act of 1790 formally establishes citizenship laws for immigrants according to the newly-adopted Constitution. This law limits naturalized citizenship to "free white persons."
  • 1882:
    • The Chinese Exclusion Act, the first major piece of federal legislation restricting immigration, prohibits the immigration and naturalization of Chinese laborers.
  • 1892:
    • The Chinese Exclusion Act was originally meant to expire in ten years; the Geary Act passed in 1892 permanently extends the terms of the Exclusion Act and further restricts the rights of Chinese immigrants in America.
  • 1906:
    • The Naturalization Act of 1906 creates a "Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization" as a part of the new Department of Labor.
  • February 1917:
  • April 6, 1917:
    • The United States officially declares war on Germany, entering World War I on the side of the Allies.
  • August 1917:
    • American Catholics leaders meet at The Catholic University in American in Washington, D.C., and establish the National Catholic War Council to coordinate the war effort activities of American Catholics. Father John J. Burke is selected to head the new organization.
  • November 11, 1918:
    • The Allied forces sign the Armistice with Germany, ending the fighting of World War I.
  • January 1919:
    • The National Catholic War Council is transformed into the National Catholic Welfare Council (later changed to Conference), a collective organization of the American Catholic Bishops dedicated to serving Catholic interests through social action, legislation, education, and publicity.

    (Top of Page)
  • February 1919
    • The NCWC issues a "Program for Social Reconstruction," calling for a transformation of American politics, economics, and society.
  • 1919:
    • The NCWC creates a Social Action Department with one goal of promoting citizenship through the "Americanization" of Catholic immigrants.
  • October 1920:
  • November 1920-August 1921:
    • Wooten's letter sparks an investigation by the NCWC into immigration issues, leading the foundation of a new Bureau of Immigration within the organization.
  • May 1921:
    • The Emergency Quota Act is passed, establishing quotas for immigration from any given country in order to restrict immigration based on nationality. The quotas are based the national origins of Americans recorded in the 1910 census.
  • May 1924:
  • May 1929:
  • December 7, 1941:
    • The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor prompts the United States to enter the war.
  • August 1942:
    • The "Bracero Program" is begun, providing short-term admission to the U.S. for Mexican laborers and migrant workers in order to redress the agricultural labor shortage due to the war. The program continues until 1964.
  • December 1943:
  • 1945:
    • The Allied forces accept the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany in May. In August, Japan surrenders following the nuclear bombing of two of its cities by American forces, finally ending World War II.

    (Top of Page)
  • December 1952:
    • The McCarran-Walter Immigration and Nationality Act is passed, permitting naturalization for any immigrant regardless of race and allowing for drastically increased immigration from Asia. The Act, however, maintains the national origins quota system, and also provides greater power for the government to deport immigrants suspected of Communist sympathies.
  • October 1965:
    • President Lyndon Johnson signs into law the Hart-Celler Immigration and Nationality Act, discontinuing the national origins quota system, setting annual limits on total number of visas issued instead. The NCWC supported the bill, which provided for unlimited visas for family members of U.S. residents.
  • November 1986:
  • 1996:
    • Congress passes the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, which attempts to crack down on the rising tide of illegal immigration. The law is met with controversy, especially over the broader deportation powers granted to the government by the Act.
  • 2003:
    • The American and Mexican bishops issue a joint pastoral letter critiquing U.S. immigration law and calling for its reform.
  • 2005:
    • The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops launches the Justice for Immigrants Campaign to educate the public about the Church's teachings on immigration and to lobby legislative reforms of immigration law based on those teachings.
  • January 2007:

(Top of Page)

Previous Page:

← Chronology
Next Page:

Further Reading →