The Naturalization Act of 1790 allowed any "free white person" who had resided in the United States for two years or more to be granted citizenship. This is notable for being the first federal law in the US to discuss who should and should not be allowed to become a citizen.
The Know-Nothing party was a populist party that formed in response to the waves of German and Irish immigrants in the first half of the 19th century. They were generally WASPs (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants) and were heavily white supremacist and anti-Catholic.
America received a flood of Chinese immigrants in response to the Opium Wars of the early 19th century and a major crop failure in 1852. They faced increasing xenophobia, including the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which banned anyone else from immigrating from China to the US. Although the act was only supposed to last 10 years, it was lengthened repeatedly and was never fully repealed until 1943. Chinese immigrants challenged its constitutionality, but were heavily limited by the fact that they, along with many other people of color, were not allowed to testify in court (see People vs. Hall).
Ellis Island is located off the coast of New York City. It is famously known as the welcoming station for immigrants, and roughly 40% of all current United States citizens have an ancestor that was processed through Ellis Island.
The Immigration Act of 1917 occurred due to high levels of xenophobia as well as anti-Asian sentiments in the United States population. This was also due to World War 1. This act required immigrants to take a literacy test. It halted many immigrants that hailed from Asian countries. The test was exempt for everyone except for young males.
The Immigration Act of 1924 was one of the most stringent immigration laws ever seen before. It established maximum quotas for each country based on the number of immigrants from that country already in the US - no more than 2%. It also totally banned immigration from Asia, except for from the US colony of the Philippines. It heavily favored immigrants from northern and western Europe and is considered to have been targeted towards maintaining the 'racial purity' of the United States.
The Border Patrol was established to prevent illegal entries of non-citizens across the US-Mexico and US-Canada borders. It was a reaction to heightened xenophobia in the US after World War I. The first station was in Michigan; the second in Texas. Coastal patrols began in 1925.
The McCarran-Walter Act of 1952 marked the end of Asian exclusion from the United States. Supporters believed that the Act was necessary to stop communist subversion while opponents stated that it was xenophobic and discriminatory. It allowed for some immigrants(mainly from Great Britain, Ireland, and Germany) to have several plots when they arrived in the US. The Act, as mentioned, removed the racial barriers against the Japanese and Chinese and also gave them very small quotas.
The Simpson-Mazzoli act gave illegal immigrants who had entered the country between January 1st, 1982, and November 6, 1986 the ability to apply for citizenship if they met certain criteria. In effect it granted amnesty to around 3 million undocumented immigrants who were already living in the US.