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Twenty Five Years Later: Reflecting on the Immigration Act of 1990
December 8, 2015

Migration Policy Institute

Twenty Five Years Later: Reflecting on the Immigration Act of 1990

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Twenty Five Years Later: Reflecting on the Immigration Act of 1990


Bruce A. Morrison, Chairman, Morrison Public Affairs Group; Former U.S. Congressman from Connecticut (1983-1991) and Chair of the Immigration Subcommittee

Jon Hiatt, Chief of Staff/Executive Assistant to the President, AFL-CIO

Demetrios G. Papademetriou, Distinguished Senior Fellow and President Emeritus, MPI; Former Director for Immigration Policy and Research, U.S. Department of Labor

Stephen W. Yale-Loehr, Professor of Immigration Law Practice, Cornell Law; Attorney of Counsel, Miller Mayer


Muzaffar Chishti, Director, MPI's office at NYU School of Law

On November 29, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Immigration Act of 1990. The law increased immigration levels by redesigning admissions categories and restructuring employment-based entry provisions for both permanent and temporary admissions, with the aim of increasing emphasis on the skills, education, and investment of these immigrants. The bill also revised the grounds of inadmissibility and deportation, expanded the definition of aggravated felony, and established administrative naturalization and Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

MPI has marked important anniversaries of major milestones in U.S. immigration history with convenings that feature key players and experts intimately familiar with how and why they happened and how their provisions have worked out over time. In October, we hosted a symposium to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Immigration Act.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the 1990 Act, MPI hosted a discussion examining the history of the legislation, how it was accomplished politically, and the stakeholders and issues that were critical to its passage. Panelists recounted the goals of the legislation, assess whether they have been met, examine the unintended consequences, and discuss the relevance and lessons of the Act for current immigration debates.

This MPI symposium, featured key players and experts involved with how and why the Act happened and the impact of the Act over the past twenty-five years and into the future.   

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