, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 157-169

First online:

Effects of the immigration act of 1965 on selected population characteristics of immigrants to the United States

  • Charles B. KeelyAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, Western Michigan University

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Recent changes in immigration law have affected the characteristics of immigrants coming to the United States. The major changes in immigration policy contained in the 1965 Immigration Act, which amended the McCarran-Walter Act of 1952, concerned the abolition of the quota system, preference system and labor clearances for certain classes of immigrants. The effects of these policy changes on two controversial characteristics of immigrants, their country of origin and occupational levels, are traced. The law led to clear changes in origin of immigrants. Southern European, Asian and Caribbean immigrants make up a larger proportion of immigrants than previously. Although the volume of immigration increased, the distribution of occupational levels remained about the same. The sources of the various occupational groups shifted to some extent, especially the professional level from Asian countries. Some effects of the policy changes and the changes in population characteristics on the American social and political scene are briefly outlined.