While immigration to the United States averaged 250,000 from 1776 to 1965, it ballooned after the signing of the Immigration Act of 1965. Since 1965, immigration has tripled to an astounding 725,000 per year with the most recent decade (2000-2010) seeing the largest growth in the U.S. immigrant population in American history. And in the last 10 years, new immigrant admissions have averaged more than 1 million per year.
Our Mass Immigration Tradition since the inadvertent effects of the 1965 act have given us these two periods:
THE POST-1965 CHAIN MIGRATION WAVE
1966-1989: 507,000 per year average
The 1965 Act was not intended to raise immigration from the around 300,000 year level of 1965 because there were no new frontiers to populate or massive factories needing unskilled labor. Inadvertently, though, the Act led to an ever growing chain of family connections so that the average of the next quarter century was nearly as high as the Great Wave which had itself been so totally different from all the rest of U.S. immigration history.
THE NEW AGE OF MASS IMMIGRATION
1990-2010: 1,000,000+ per year average
By 1990, major industries were addicted to cheap foreign labor that enabled them to keep wages down for all Americans. A growing class of conspicuously affluent Americans depended on a foreign servant class and ensured that immigration remained at DOUBLE the level of the Great Wave prompted by the Robber Barons a century earlier. Legal immigration crossed the million-a-year mark at the beginning of this period and has averaged more than a million ever since.