Recognizing Milestones

Honoring humanity creates an equitable and just society.

History matters. Not only does it show where we have been, it explains why things are the way they are. When it comes to building a more equitable and just world for everyone, everyday actions -- the large and the small -- matter. The Washington State Office of Equity honors the contributions of immigrants who, through their actions, made this state and nation a better place to live. We appreciate the everyday actions -- the large and the small – immigrants take to live, love, and thrive in safety and authenticity. 

The immigration history of Washington state reflects the overall political changes and immigrant flows in the United States. U.S. immigration policy has a number of defining moments, typically marked by the passing of a federal law. These landmark laws helped create the immigration system as we know it today.

Vintage nautical map
  • Naturalization Act of 1790: Defined eligibility for U.S. citizenship and restricted naturalization to “free white persons.” 
  • Adoption of 14th Amendment (1868):  Allowed anyone born or naturalized in the U.S. to automatically become a U.S. citizen.
  • Chinese Exclusion Act (1882): Banned Chinese labor and eventually barred immigration from all Asian nations.
  • Immigration Act of 1924: Restricted immigration through a national origins quota system. Immigrants from Western and Northern European nations were favored.
  • Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965: Abolished the national origins quota system and changed to a system based on family unity and labor skills. 
  • Plyler v. Doe (1982): The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Texas statute denying undocumented immigrant children the right to free public education.
  • The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (also known as the Simpson-Mazzoli Act or the Reagan Amnesty): Granted citizenship to nearly three million undocumented immigrants and Made it illegal for employers to hire undocumented immigrants knowingly.
  • Immigration Act of 1990: Increased immigration overall, provided family-based immigration visa and created “temporary protected status” to asylum seekers.
  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals 2012: Temporarily halted deportation or removal of young undocumented immigrants who meet certain qualifications.
History shows that it is not only senseless and cruel, but also difficult to state who is a foreigner. Claudio Magris
Not belonging is a terrible feeling. It feels awkward and it hurts, as if you were wearing someone else’s shoes. Phoebe Stone