Erika Lee: The New Xenophobia and the Role of the Public Scholar Today

These days, the relevance of U.S. immigration history—who we have welcomed and who we have banned; who we have resettled and who we have left behind; how we began to enforce the border and how the “border” has moved into the interior—has never been more important. For immigration historians, the past, present, and future are colliding. Continue Reading Erika Lee: The New Xenophobia and the Role of the Public Scholar Today

Julie M. Weise: African Americans and Immigrants’ Rights in the Trump Era

Back in 2008 when Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton vied for the Democratic nomination, the “Will Latinos support a black candidate?” narrative dominated the news cycle. “Many Latinos are not ready for a person of color,” said a young Latina in a typical quote featured by the New York Times. “I don’t think many Latinos will vote for Obama.” Academic social science from new Latino settlement areas in the U.S. South seemingly confirmed the narrative: “Latino Immigrants come to the U.S. with negative stereotypes of black Americans,” declared a Duke research team after conducting a survey in Durham, N.C., in 2003. Yet though Clinton did dominate among Latinos in the 2008 primary, they rallied to Obama’s side once he clinched the nomination, delivering the country’s first black president a historically large margin of Latino votes that November. Continue Reading Julie M. Weise: African Americans and Immigrants’ Rights in the Trump Era

Mireya Loza: 100 Years of Mexican Guest Workers in the United States

The experiences of braceros reveal contradictions within U.S. immigration policy that render Mexican laborers as necessary and Mexican settlement as unnecessary and unwarranted. The Bracero Program cemented the idea that in modern America, Mexican workers could come in, contribute their labor and expect no avenues of permanent incorporation into American life and no legal protections as workers. The termination of the Bracero Program did not bring an end to Mexican guest workers as Mexicans found themselves recruited for H2 visas. This category of visa was first introduced in the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 and by 1986 the status was subdivided and the letter “A” was added for agricultural workers. H2-A laborers not only walk in the historical footprints of the braceros that came before them but many are the children and grandchildren of braceros, creating one more link in the century of Mexican guest workers in America. So after 100 years of guest workers policies, do we continue to create an unequal system in which a group of people are only valued as laborers and never given the opportunity of true belonging as American citizens? Continue Reading Mireya Loza: 100 Years of Mexican Guest Workers in the United States

Deirdre M. Moloney: The Muslim Ban of 1910

Certain immigrants, including Mormons, Hindus, and Muslims faced barriers in their effort to settle in the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries because they were perceived as adhering to belief systems that were un-American. Though those religiously based cases were small relative to those immigrants facing exclusion or deportation based on their poverty or on medical grounds, they suggest that religious bias has long been a significant factor in early federal immigration policies. Continue Reading Deirdre M. Moloney: The Muslim Ban of 1910

Elliott Young: Felons and Families

Even as one might criticize Obama for becoming the “Deporter in Chief,” he did not invent the pernicious rhetoric of good and bad immigrants. He merely followed in a long tradition that stretches back to the late nineteenth century when federal immigration restrictions were first written into law to keep out criminals, prostitutes, and the Chinese. Continue Reading Elliott Young: Felons and Families

Off the Page: Roundtable 1: Immigration

UNC Press is proud to host this first in a series of week-long virtual roundtables, featuring Press authors drawing on their work to address issues of contemporary concern. This week we share five short essays by leading scholars of immigration, including Elliott Young, Deirdre M. Moloney, Mireya Loza, Julie M. Weise, and Erika Lee. Continue Reading Off the Page: Roundtable 1: Immigration