This timeline starts with the Bracero Program, which ran from 1942 to 1964. Under the program, more than 4.5 million Mexican workers came to the United States to farm, taking hard jobs at low wages.But these weren’t the first workers to come to the U.S. Until the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 , nearly 200,0000 Chinese nationals worked the field. But immigration history starts even before that — it is woven into the story of the United States.
This timeline focuses on immigration reform with an eye toward Mexico and Latin America in an effort to tell the story of how the country has tried, and tried again, to find a way to incorporate the (now) 11 million undocumented immigrants into the economic and social fabric of American life. Scrolling through history reveals just how much immigration policy has (and hasn’t) changed. With Congress in a deadlock over almost everything, it’s hard to see what happens next.
Note: This was originally published in Oct. 2013 and was updated Nov. 20, 2014.