History of Immigration and Health Care

        The history of immigration in the United States of America really took speed in the early 1600s. The first immigrants for the country started with the original settlers. Settling on the James River in 1607 began the growth of a new nation. The importation of slaves began in 1619 and continued throughout the years. Though slaves did not come to the United States of America voluntarily, they ended up making a bit of population during the earlier years of the nation. By 1637 the first colony began requiring documentation or permission to host immigrants in the state of Massachusetts. This is the first bit of “citizenship” in the United States of America. A newly formed government created the first Alien Naturalization Act by 1790. Five years later the Naturalization Act of 1795 was enacted which added rules to the citizenship process followed by the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798. The Alien and Sedition Acts gave the power to punish and deport immigrants as well as a residency requirement for naturalization to be set at a minimum of fourteen years which was reduced to a minimum of five years of residency in 1800. The first set of “illegal immigrants” was set in 1808 when foreign slave trade became illegal and approximately 50,000 slaves were being imported.

        A major discussion during this period was whether or not Native American’s were exempted from Naturalization or not. Between 1814 and 1850, the United States government ruled that they were exempt from naturalization and were forced from tribal land. This was followed by the “Know-Nothing” party forming and pushing for major restrictions on immigration in 1849. The first congressional attempt to centralization immigration control happened in 1864 resulting in a Commissioner of Immigration that would be appointed by the United States president. In the late 1800s the United States of America began seeing a more diverse group of immigrants. The Gold Rush from 1870 to 1880 brought many Chinese immigrants to the United States. More immigrants into the country caused need for the United States government to create the Naturalization Act of 1870 to extend to naturalization of former slaves. From 1875 to 1880 the United States federal government deems state immigration laws unconstitutional. Congress began to bring immigration in under federal control for the first time.

        More immigrants began coming to the United States of America in the 1880s as the first “Great Wave” of European immigrants began coming to the United States. As immigration diversity grew, the United States federal government created the Immigration Exclusion Act in 1882 which prohibited the immigration of criminals, the poor and the mentally ill. By 1891 Congress established the first Federal Administrative Agency that was supposed to regulate immigration. The Federal Administrative Agency opened Ellis Island just a year later in 1892 to be an immigrant entry checkpoint in hope to better regulate and document immigration.

        By the end of the 1800s the Supreme Court of the United States of America deems that the 14th Amendment gave citizenship to all people born in the United States. The Organic Act of 1900 also granted United States citizenship to every person born in Hawaii before 1898. The United States government then created the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization in 1906 followed by the Department of Labor in 1913.

        As the United States population continued to rapidly grow, the United States Border Patrol was created as well as the establishment of the Labor Appropriation Act of 1924. After the many years of immigration to a new country, the United States created the Alien Registration Act in 1940  which ended up registering 4, 741,971 immigrants to the United States of America. In 1940, the Nationality Act unified nationality and naturalization laws. The Armed Forces Naturalization Act in 1968 was intended to show appreciation for the United States veterans who were not yet legal United States citizens. The Armed Forces Naturalization Act allowed veterans who served in active duty to become citizens. The United States government decided to allow persecuted individuals to seek asylum in the United States of America through the Refugee Act of 1980. Immigration in present day has slowed greatly. The inflow of unauthorized immigrants was approximately two-thirds less from 2007 to 2009 than reported in 2000 to 2005. Though there is a decrease in the number of immigrants in recent years, immigration had almost tripled from approximately 10.3 million in 1900 to approximately 28.4 million in 2000.

        Immigration to United States continues to happen, one major concern by many United States citizens in the problem of health care. Approximately a third of natural born United States citizens are without satisfactory health insurance. The percentage of immigrants is still even higher than that for the most part. Countries like Mexico (52.6%), El Salvador (57.4%), Guatemala (50.2%), Peru (41.5%), and Ecuador (42.0%) have some of highest percentages of immigrants in the United States of America without healthcare.

        Though health care brings up controversy among many United States citizens, native born citizens still receive many more benefits than immigrants. Native born citizens receive approximately $3117.00 in health care expenditures per capita on average. That is followed by almost half as much at $1,747.00 in expenditures per capita for immigrants. While some United States citizen may have strong beliefs against immigrants and health care benefits, it is reported that immigrants use health facilities almost half as less than native born citizens do. In 2006, approximately 20% of native born adults went to the emergency room in the United States; only approximately 12% of immigrant adults went to the emergency room that same year.

        In 2013 the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was enacted. The Affordable Care Act played to United States immigrants greatly. The ACA made immigrants eligible for premium tax credits as well as lower copays for healthcare visits. There was also no waiting period for immigrants when enrolling for state health insurance of premium tax credits. Immigrants were also eligible for the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) as well as the Basic Health Plan (if available in state of residency). The Affordable Care Act allowed current federal immigrants eligibility restrictions in Medicaid maintained, including a 5 or more year waiting period for lawfully residing, low-income immigrant adults. Lastly, if states do not provide Medicaid of have a Children’s Health Insurance Program, immigrant children and pregnant women must wait 5 years before getting affordable health care coverage according to the ACA. 

http://www.cis.org/ForeignBornPopulation2000

http://www.pbs.org/healthcarecrisis/uninsured.html

http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/special-reports/unequal-access-immigrants-and-us-health-care

http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/just-facts/truth-about-costly-verification-systems-unauthorized-immigrants-and-health-care

http://www.nilc.orgimmigrantshcr.html

http://www.immigration.procon.org/view.timeline.php?timelineID=000023#1607-1799

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