The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965
A Reference Guide
by Michael C. LeMay
March 2020, 300pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-6897-9
$72, £56, 63€, A99
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-6898-6
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The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 established a preference system for admission of legal (authorized) immigrants, a policy perspective promoted by former President John F. Kennedy.

This comprehensive resource explains six eras of immigration law, how and why immigration law has changed, who the major actors and organizations shaping immigration law are, and in what direction immigration law is likely to proceed in the near future.

The United States has the most diverse population of any country in the world and is widely thought of as a nation of immigrants. U.S. immigration has been and continues to be a contentious political, cultural, and social issue. Much of current immigration policy is based on the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965, a law advocated by former President John F. Kennedy to establish a preference system of legal immigration. This book provides an authoritative analysis of current U.S. immigration law and the 1965 Act.

It explains the precursor laws to the 1965 Act and their failure to resolve many critical problems, and details how and why the law was passed. It describes and profiles all the major actors and organizations that determine the politics of US immigration policy and details the impact—both foreseen and unanticipated—that the 1965 Act has had on the American economy, culture, demographics, and societal diversity. It offers an objective source for accessing an extensive list of the most important documents, governmental data, and scholarly discourse on U.S. immigration.


  • A timeline highlights key events related to U.S. immigration
  • Chapters discuss the precursors of the 1965 act, the act itself, and the evolution of U.S. immigration policy since 1965
  • Profiles of key people and organizations provide fundamental information about the chief creators of the act
  • Primary source documents help readers understand the creation and significance of the act
  • A bibliography directs readers to additional sources of information about the act and U.S. immigration policy
Michael C. LeMay is professor emeritus at California State University, San Bernardino. He is author of thirty academic books, many about U.S. immigration. Among his publications are Illegal Immigration, 2e (2015, ABC-CLIO), Doctors at the Borders: Immigration and the Rise of Public Health (2015, Praeger), Transforming America: Perspectives of Immigration, 3 vols. (ed. 2013, ABC-CLIO), and Guarding the Gates: Immigration and National Security (2006, Praeger Security International). His book The American Political Party System (ABC-CLIO) was named a 2017 Choice "Outstanding Academic Title."
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