Laws ostensibly directed at undocumented immigrants inevitably affect the treatment of lawfully present immigrants and citizens who share the ethnic, racial, or national origin characteristics of undocumented immigrants.
The 1790 Naturalization law determined that free white persons could naturalize after two years of residency, and established that the children of citizens would also be citizens. Soon after, in 1795, Congress extended the residency period to five years, and in 1798 extended the residency requirement even further, to fourteen years.
States were barred from financing their immigration systems with specific taxes on immigrants and transportation companies, leaving the continued existence of these state institutions to the general state fisc or the generosity of private charitable organizations interested in immigrant welfare and integration. The resource strain on states and charitable organizations placed enormous pressure on Congress to enact federal law.