Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Tom Lobe




immigration, discrimination, law, reform


In 1965, the United States Congress passed the Immigration and Nationality Act, attempting to remove racial, religious, and cultural discrimination from the immigration system. However, the infamous act and subsequent legislation have caused unintended consequences. Illegal immigration has skyrocketed despite a massive increase in border enforcement; and Central Americans, particularly Mexicans, have become the target of racial and cultural discrimination, much like the Southern European immigrants of the early 1900s. The current immigration system still relies on the framework passed nearly 50 years ago, proving to be insufficient for contemporary United States. This thesis investigates the historical patterns in immigration legislation that have led to the contemporary issues that remain a subject of intense debate. The current system’s ineffective and increasingly expensive programs have created backlogs of family members, simultaneously preventing the inflow of immigrants in specific sectors the U.S. economy and workforce desperately need. The thesis investigates current reform bills and proposals, objective research done by the Congressional Budget Office and Congressional Research Service, and research provided by a host of nongovernmental policy institutes. There is an objective reform proposal presented by the thesis to demonstrate how political bias and the current gridlocked Congress have prevented necessary reform.