By the year 1965, the US operated on a quota immigration system that was based on national origin. This was to change though, when in the year 1965, a new Immigration and Naturalization act abolished the former Hart-celler Act. The new act focused on attracting skilled labor to the US and reuniting immigrant families. Unlike in the past years when immigrants coming to the US mostly came from Europe, the new act caused a tremendous change of the American population. One would note easily that immigrants started streaming in from Asia, Latin America and later from Africa. .
Immediately after passing the bill, an impact that was not expected at first ripple the country. After the first five years after the bill was established, that is, the beginning of 1970s, immigration from Asian countries quadrupled. This were mainly people fleeing from war-torn Asian countries like Cambodia and Vietnam. This impact is not of surprise though, because the previous act had effectively barred Asian immigrants from entering the US. Additionally, other cold war conflicts that extended into the 1970s saw a tremendous immigration from Eastern Europe countries and Cuba. .
Millions of legal immigrants entered the country during this period. In fact, the number was thrice the total number of immigrants before the act. Nevertheless, as immigrants continued to stream into the country, in most cases using land routes from Mexico and Canada, legal immigration inevitably became a political debate. These debates finally led to the Immigration Reform Act of 1986. The aim of this act was to curb illegal immigration by providing a better way to enforce immigration policies and in addition giving one more possibilities to get legally into the country. Of all the stipulations in the act, the two amnesty programs caused a good amount of effects. As stated above, the act was inclusive of two amnesty programs for illegal immigrants, which later gave amnesty to 3 million unauthorized aliens.