The Massive Impact of the 1965 Immigration Act

Fifty years ago President Lyndon Johnson signed the Immigration Act into law and completely changed who can immigrate to the United States. In 1965, 84% of Americans were white. Today, due largely in part to the Immigration Act, the white population has shrunk to around 60%. And in it’s in cities like Los Angeles that these trends are playing out in a big way. KCRW’s Saul Gonzalez reports.

With the New York skyline in the background on clear October day, President Lyndon Baines Johnson sings the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 into law on Liberty Island. Johnson promised Americans that the law would make the United States truer to its values and strengthen the nation. (Photo: Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library)

Demonstrators at a 2013 immigration march in downtown Los Angeles demanding a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented residents in the United States. While the Immigration Act of 1965 loosened restrictions from many parts of the world, it put in place the first immigration quotas for people from Mexico and other Latin American countries. (Photo: Saul Gonzalez)

Many of America’s current debates about national character and the role of immigrants in our society trace the origins to the Immigration Act. (Photo: Saul Gonzalez)