Guarding the Golden Door: American Immigration Policy and Immigrants since 1882

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9780809053445: Guarding the Golden Door: American Immigration Policy and Immigrants since 1882

As renowned historian Roger Daniels shows in this brilliant new work, America's inconsistent, often illogical, and always cumbersome immigration policy has profoundly affected our recent past.

The federal government's efforts to pick and choose among the multitude of immigrants seeking to enter the United States began with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Conceived in ignorance and falsely presented to the public, it had undreamt of consequences, and this pattern has been rarely deviated from since.

Immigration policy in Daniels' skilled hands shows Americans at their best and worst, from the nativist violence that forced Theodore Roosevelt's 1907 "gentlemen's agreement" with Japan to the generous refugee policies adopted after World War Two and throughout the Cold War. And in a conclusion drawn from today's headlines, Daniels makes clear how far ignorance, partisan politics, and unintended consequences have overtaken immigration policy during the current administration's War on Terror.

Irreverent, deeply informed, and authoritative, Guarding the Golden Door presents an unforgettable interpretation of modern American history.

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About the Author:

Roger Daniels, author of Prisoners Without Trial: Japanese Americans in World War II, is a renowned expert on immigration, consultant to PBS and the Immigration Museum on Ellis Island, and expert witness on Japanese-American internment.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Guarding the Golden Door
PART I The Golden Door Closes and Opens, 1882-1965 CHAPTER ONE The Beginnings of Immigration Restriction, 1882-1917 In the beginning Congress created the Chinese Exclusion Act. Like much of what Congress has done about immigration since then, it was conceived in ignorance, was falsely presented to the public, and had consequences undreamt of by its creators. That May 1882 statute, which has long been treated as a minor if somewhat disreputable incident, can now be seen as a nodal point in the history of American immigration policy. It marked the moment when the golden doorway of admission to the United States began to narrow and initiated a thirty-nine-year period of successive exclusions of certain kinds of immigrants, 1882-1921, followed by twenty-two years, 1921-43, when statutes and administrative actions set narrowing numerical limits for those immigrants who had not otherwise been excluded. During those years a federal bureaucracy was created to control immigration and immigrants, a bureaucracy whose initial raison d'etre was to keep out first Chinese and then others who were deemed to be inferior. The most comprehensive historical work on American immigration policy posits a different periodization, distinguishing between "the development of a regulatory system" in 1883-1913 and a period that went "from regulation to restriction" in 1913-29.1 This seems to me to make a false distinction: in fact each narrowing of the grounds of admission to the United States made subsequent narrowings easier. The same would be true in reverse, when restrictions were progressively relaxed from 1943 on. In the decades following World War II, even as the immigration laws and regulationswere loosened and made less discriminatory, the second generation of immigration historians tended to assume that immigration would never again be a major factor in American life. From a vantage point at the beginning of the twenty-first century, however, it now appears that the period of intense restriction, which eventually resulted in very small numbers of immigrants, was a temporary rather than a permanent alteration in a general pattern. The clearest way to demonstrate the apparent continuity of immigration patterns in modern American history is to examine the percentage of foreign-born residents in the country, whom the census began to count only in 1850 vis-à-vis the gross number of immigrants admitted. The data show that between 1860 and 1920, a period when almost every aspect of American life was transformed, the incidence of immigrants in the American population was remarkably stable: in seven successive censuses, about one American in seven was foreign-born, the actual percentages varying only between 13.2 and 14.7 percent. The total number of resident immigrants grew steadily from 1850 to 1930, but their incidence in the population began to decline in 1910 and hit a low of 4.7 percent--less than one American in twenty--in 1970. This was well after immigration had begun to grow again, but the drop in incidence continued due to the high mortality among foreign-born because so many were old and so few immigrants had arrived in the previous four decades.a Because of depression, war, and immigration policy, fewer immigrants came to the United States between 1931 and 1971--7.3 million--than had arrived in the single decade 1901-10, even though the population in 1970 was more than twice as large as that in 1910. Since 1970 the number and incidence of immigrants have risen, but that incidence is still well below traditional levels. The commonly held perception that America is receiving an unprecedented proportion of immigrants is false. What has changed, however, have been American attitudes toward immigration and immigrants. One issue that this book explores is the dualistic attitude that most Americans have developed toward immigration and immigrants, on the one hand reveling in the nation's immigrant past and on the other rejecting much of its immigrant present. That the United States, along with a number of other "settler societies," is a nation of immigrants goes almost without saying.2 Despite this, most historians do not accord either immigration or immigration policy the attention these topics deserve, and the space allocated to them in most textbooks is both cursory and spasmodic. Most still maintain the old invidious distinction between the earlier "colonists" and the later "immigrants." The founding fathers knew that continued immigration was vital to help fill their largely empty new nation. Thomas Jefferson's list of complaints against King George III in the Declaration of Independence included the charge that the king had "endeavored to prevent the population of these States ... obstructing the laws for the naturalization of foreigners [and] refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither." Eleven years later the authors of the Constitution clearly had immigration in mind when they provided that Congress should "establish a uniform rule of naturalization" (Article I, Section 8) and made immigrants eligible for all federal offices save president and vice president. They also protected the foreign slave trade, a major source of immigration, by prohibiting interference with it for twenty years (Article 1, Section 9). When that period expired, Congress, at President Jefferson's invitation, promptly made that trade illegal, but did not interfere with either the domestic slave trade or slavery itself. The approximately 50,000 slaves smuggled into the United States after 1808 became the first illegal immigrants. President George Washington and all his successors through John Tyler took it as a given that continued immigration was vital for the health of the nation. While none made as blunt a declaration as the nineteenth-century Argentine statesman Juan Bautista Alberdi, who insisted that "to govern isto populate," their endorsements were unambiguous. Washington, addressing an association of Irish immigrants just after the battle of Yorktown, said: The bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent and respectable stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions, whom we shall welcome to participate in all of our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment.3 The anti-immigrant legislation of the John Adams administration in the late 1790s--the infamous Alien and Sedition Acts--was not so much an effort to restrict immigration as a desperate but vain attempt to keep Federalism in power and Jeffersonians out. Federalists generally opposed only those immigrants who they thought might vote for Jefferson. Apart from that episode, a pro-immigrant consensus long prevailed, a consensus well described in President John Tyler's 1841 message to Congress: "We hold out to the people of other countries an invitation to come and settle among us as members of our rapidly growing family."4 Thus for the first sixty years, and beyond, immigration and naturalization laws were minimal. Congress quickly enacted a 1790 statute specifying that naturalization was restricted to "free white persons."5 The obvious intention was to bar the naturalization of blacks and indentured servants. (The French constitution of 1789 had similarly barred the suffrage of persons "in livery.") This naturalization act, as amended, was used later to bar the immigration of Asians, but there is no evidence that Congress had Asians in mind in 1790, and, in fact, a number of Asians were naturalized in the middle decades of the nineteenth century, at least one of them at the behest of the federal government.6 And the first statute dealing directly with free immigration was not enacted until 1819, when Congress ordered, as part of a statute dealing with import duties, that every vessel entering an American port deliver a manifest of passengers being landed to the collector of customs for that distriet.7 No other immigration statutes were enacted until after the Civil War. The political elites' positive consensus about immigration and absence of legislative regulation does not mean that immigration was universally popular. Many Americans had long held hostile feelings toward immigrants in general and certain types of immigrants in particular--a position that has come to be known as nativism. The historian John Higham, its premier explicator, has defined it as "intense opposition to an internal minority on thegrounds of its foreign (i.e., 'un-American') connections."8 I will use the word more broadly to describe persons, organizations, and movements that oppose immigration or the amount of immigration on whatever grounds, and I shall use it often in the plural.b American nativisms are older than the United States. For example, early in the eighteenth century a Boston mob tried to prevent the landing of Protestant Irish and later in the century that transplanted Bostonian Benjamin Franklin published one of the first nativist tracts. His Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind (1751) had as its main target the burgeoning German immigration in Pennsylvania, but also demonstrated a broad, if to us curious, racism. Why should the Palatine boors be suffered to swarm into our Settlements, and by herding together establish their Language and Manners to the Exclusion of ours? Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of us Anglifying them, and will never adopt our Language or Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion. Franklin's comments are typical of American complaints against immigrants irrespective of time and place: they have bad habits ("Palatine boors"); they are clannish ("herding together"); they don't speak English ("their Language"); and they are going to take over ("Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them"). These are the arguments used against Italians, Jews, and others a hundred years ago, and may be heard today against "Mexicans, Latinos, Hispanics, etc." The targets have changed, but the complaints remain largely the same. Their gravamen is simply this: they are not like us. Franklin went on to demonstrate the degree to which notions of race are relative rather than absolute. He noted that the number of "purely white People in the World is proportionately very small," but his notion of who was white was strangely narrow. Most Europeans were not white but, according to him, "swarthy": in this category he mentioned Spaniards, Ital-ians,French, Russians, Swedes, and Germans except for the Saxons, "who with the English, make the principal Body of White People on the Face of the Earth." Finally, Franklin proposed an explicitly racist immigration policy: "Why Increase the Sons of Africa, by Planting them in America, where we have so fair an Opportunity, by excluding all Blacks and Tawneys, of increasing the lovely White and Red?"9 Yet, although Franklin can justly be called a founding father of American nativism, he was a father with no intellectual children. And it should be noted that this theme does not recur in Franklin's writings and that the forty-five-year-old American had not yet been abroad when he wrote these sentences. In his old age he encouraged immigration from the European continent.c No concerted anti-immigrant movement developed in America until almost a century later. But when many thousands of desperately poor Catholic Irish immigrants began arriving at East Coast ports in the mid-1840s, many of them fleeing the consequences of the terrible potato famine that killed more than a million Irish, the pro-immigration consensus was weakened. (Many of the immigrants had been subsidized to emigrate by Irish landlords and the British government.) In reaction, Massachusetts and New York passed laws taxing and otherwise impeding immigrants. These were appealed to the Supreme Court, which struck them down in the Passenger Cases of 1849, ruling that: 1) although the Constitution said nothing about immigration directly, it was clearly "foreign commerce," which the Constitution explicitly reserved to Congress; and 2) Congress's jurisdiction was preemptive so that even in the absence of any federal legislation, state governments could not regulate immigration.10 Immigration had been growing very quickly in the antebellum decades. In the 1830s, 600,000 came, 1.7 million arrived in the 1840s, and 2.6 million in the 1850s, which amounted to a 433 percent increase over two decades. About a third of the immigrants were Irish, almost all of them Catholic, and another third were German, a large segment of whom were Catholics. Irish immigrants went largely to the northeastern United States, many entering through Boston and New York, with a substantial minority entering via Canada. Almost all Irish settled in cities as far south as Baltimore and as far west as Cincinnati: large numbers of them moved into newurban occupations such as policemen, firemen, and horse-car drivers, as well as unskilled labor. Unlike the Irish, almost no Germans settled in New England; most entered through New York, which supplanted Philadelphia as the chief immigrant port in the 1820s. German settlement in the East was concentrated between New York and Baltimore, but a growing minority settled within the area between St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Milwaukee, which scholars have called the "German Triangle." Many Germans came seeking farms and found them, while large numbers were skilled craftsmen. The frustration of Protestant nativist groups over the increasing immigration and the growing crisis over slavery were the preconditions for the first anti-immigrant mass movement in American history. In the 1830s and 1840s violent anti-Catholic riots occurred, primarily in New England and Philadelphia: in 1834, just outside Boston, a mob burned down an Ursuline convent; and in Philadelphia during the 1840s a number of mobs attacked Catholic churches. No organization accepted responsibility, as we say today, but by the early 1850s a new political movement had been born, directed largely against immigrants. The Know-Nothings, as contemporary opponents and later historians called them, were members of a secret Protestant fraternal organization, the Order of the Star-Spangled Banner, whose members had to be native-born white Protestants who took an oath to "[resist] the insidious policy of the Church of Rome, and all other foreign influences against the institutions of our country, by placing in all offices in the gift of the people, whether by election or by appointment, none but native-born Protestant citizens." Members of the Order were instructed to reply "I know nothing" to any questions about the organization. It had a meteoric rise, growing from just forty-three members to more than a million in a little over two years. A million white males represented almost one-eighth of the nation's potential electorate (in 1852 just some 6 million men voted for president). It is therefore no surprise that anti-immigrant candidates did well in the elections of 1854 and 1855, electing eight governors, more than a hundred congressmen, the mayors of Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago, and thousands of other local officials. Many states enacted anti-immigrant statutes in this period. In Massachusetts, for example, naturalized citizens were denied the vote until two years after they became citizens, an act that particularly outraged Abraham Lincoln. The movement's national agenda included lengthening the period required fornaturalizatio...

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Descripción Hill Wang Inc.,U.S., United States, 2005. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. As renowned historian Roger Daniels shows in this brilliant new work, America s inconsistent, often illogical, and always cumbersome immigration policy has profoundly affected our recent past. The federal government s efforts to pick and choose among the multitude of immigrants seeking to enter the United States began with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Conceived in ignorance and falsely presented to the public, it had undreamt of consequences, and this pattern has been rarely deviated from since. Immigration policy in Daniels skilled hands shows Americans at their best and worst, from the nativist violence that forced Theodore Roosevelt s 1907 gentlemen s agreement with Japan to the generous refugee policies adopted after World War Two and throughout the Cold War. And in a conclusion drawn from today s headlines, Daniels makes clear how far ignorance, partisan politics, and unintended consequences have overtaken immigration policy during the current administration s War on Terror. Irreverent, deeply informed, and authoritative, Guarding the Golden Door presents an unforgettable interpretation of modern American history. Nº de ref. de la librería AAC9780809053445

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Descripción Hill Wang Inc.,U.S., United States, 2005. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. As renowned historian Roger Daniels shows in this brilliant new work, America s inconsistent, often illogical, and always cumbersome immigration policy has profoundly affected our recent past. The federal government s efforts to pick and choose among the multitude of immigrants seeking to enter the United States began with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Conceived in ignorance and falsely presented to the public, it had undreamt of consequences, and this pattern has been rarely deviated from since. Immigration policy in Daniels skilled hands shows Americans at their best and worst, from the nativist violence that forced Theodore Roosevelt s 1907 gentlemen s agreement with Japan to the generous refugee policies adopted after World War Two and throughout the Cold War. And in a conclusion drawn from today s headlines, Daniels makes clear how far ignorance, partisan politics, and unintended consequences have overtaken immigration policy during the current administration s War on Terror. Irreverent, deeply informed, and authoritative, Guarding the Golden Door presents an unforgettable interpretation of modern American history. Nº de ref. de la librería AAC9780809053445

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Descripción Hill Wang Inc.,U.S., United States, 2005. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. As renowned historian Roger Daniels shows in this brilliant new work, America s inconsistent, often illogical, and always cumbersome immigration policy has profoundly affected our recent past. The federal government s efforts to pick and choose among the multitude of immigrants seeking to enter the United States began with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Conceived in ignorance and falsely presented to the public, it had undreamt of consequences, and this pattern has been rarely deviated from since. Immigration policy in Daniels skilled hands shows Americans at their best and worst, from the nativist violence that forced Theodore Roosevelt s 1907 gentlemen s agreement with Japan to the generous refugee policies adopted after World War Two and throughout the Cold War. And in a conclusion drawn from today s headlines, Daniels makes clear how far ignorance, partisan politics, and unintended consequences have overtaken immigration policy during the current administration s War on Terror. Irreverent, deeply informed, and authoritative, Guarding the Golden Door presents an unforgettable interpretation of modern American history. Nº de ref. de la librería BZE9780809053445

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Descripción Softcover. Estado de conservación: New. "Arguably the most useful for general readers. Clearly written, reasonably lean and on the whole, balanced in its assessments, it is an excellent primer." --Los Angeles TimesThe federal government's efforts to pick and choose among the multitude of immigrants seeking to enter the United States began with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Conceived in ignorance and falsely presented to the public, it had undreamt of consequences, and this pattern has been rarely deviated from since. As renowned historian Roger Daniels shows in this brilliant new work, America's inconsistent, often illogical, and always cumbersome immigration policy has profoundly affected our recent past.Immigration policy in Daniels' skilled hands shows Americans at their best and worst, from the nativist violence that forced Theodore Roosevelt's 1907 "gentlemen's agreement" with Japan to the generous refugee policies adopted after World War Two and throughout the Cold War. And in a conclusion drawn from today's headlines, Daniels makes clear how far ignorance, partisan politics, and unintended consequences have overtaken immigration policy during the current administration's War on Terror.Irreverent, deeply informed, and authoritative, Guarding the Golden Door presents an unforgettable interpretation of modern American history. Nº de ref. de la librería 9800345

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