The H-1B Visa Debate in Historical Perspective: The Evolution of U.S. Policy Torward Foreign-Born Workers (Working Paper #11)

Margaret L. Usdansky, Princeton University

Thomas J. Espenshade, Princeton University

Summary: In this paper, we trace the history of U.S. legislation regarding employment-based immigration and the admission of foreign-born temporary workers. Because many pieces of legislation address and distinguish between high- and low-skill workers, we examine the evolution of U.S. policy toward both groups. We cover the period from the middle of the 19th century to the end of the 20th century. We conclude that concern about both skilled and unskilled immigration has played a greater role in U.S. federal immigration policy since the 1850s than is commonly recognized.

Working Paper #11»