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Immigration Laws

crasch has posted a concise history of US immigration laws. Whle one could easily tut tut over the open bigotry of earlier entries on the timeline, I think the laws enacted in recent decades represent a bit of a moral victory over yesteryear's seeming lack of conscience.


One could argue, however that we have the instituional racism of decades past to thank for whatever sense of cultural cohesion still exists in the U.S.. I'm not making that argument, but feel free to respond as if I have.

See crasch's LiveJournal for the complete list. I've selectively excerpted the items that relate to Asians from the time of the California Gold Rush 1849, which brought an influx of Chinese men, to the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1943.

1849 California Gold Rush spurs immigration from China.

1854 Chinese immigrants are prohibited from testifying against whites in California courts.

1870 Naturalization Act limits American citizenship to "white persons and persons of African descent," barring Asians from U.S. citizenship.

1882 Chinese Exclusion Act restricts Chinese immigration.

1907 Expatriation Act declares that an American woman who marries a foreign national loses her citizenship.

1922 Cable Act partially repeals the Expatriation Act, but declares that an American woman who marries an Asian still loses her citizenship.

1923 In the landmark case of United States v. Bhaghat Singh Thind, the Supreme Court rules that Indians from the Asian subcontinent could not become naturalized U.S. citizens.

1924 Oriental Exclusion Act prohibits most immigration from Asia, including foreign-born wives and children of U.S. citizens of Chinese ancestry.

1934 The Tydings-McDuffie Act, which provided for independence for the Philippines on July 4, 1946, strips Filipinos of their status as U.S. nationals and severely restricted Filipino immigration by establishing an annual immigration quota of 50.

1940 The Alien Registration Act requires the registration and fingerprinting of all aliens in the United States over the age of 14. The act classifies Korean immigrants as subjects of Japan.

1942 Filipinos are reclassified as U.S. citizens, making it possible for them to register for the military. Executive Order 9066 authorizes the military to evacuate 112,000 Japanese Americans from the Pacific coast and placed them in ten internment camps.

1943 The Chinese Exclusion Act is repealed. By the end of the 1940s, all restrictions on Asians acquiring U.S. citizenship are abolished.

My father, a Baby Boomer, grew up with the anti-Japanese resentments lingering after WWII. He grew up hating Japanese, supposedly for their enemy status during WWII, but he harbored no animosity toward Germans or Italians.

I speak to a great many people as I do what needs doing to pay the rent and bills. While I encounter people my age (38) or younger who hate Mexicans, I don't recall ever speaking to anyone my age or younger who expressed any sort of racist or xenophobic sentiments about Asians. You might think that a lack of Asians (and super abundance of Mexicans) in NorthWest Arkansas might account for that sentiment, but many thousands of Marshall Islanders have set up house here in the area, and sitting at my little kiosk in Wal*Mart these last few months, I've spoken to Japanese, Chinese, Phillipino, and Mung people.

They only racist sentiments I hear expressed in NWA in this first decade of the 21st century target Mexicans and blacks. Should we consider this progress?

Yesterday I took Logan and Callum to Fun City, a pizza place with an indoor playground, games, party facilities, and the like. Sitting by the play area watching my sons interact with other children, I saw a group of men with darkish skin, and I immediately pegged them as Arabs. I imagined one of them detonating his explosive harness and killing a bunch of Christian children. I looked at them with suspicion, and I think they caught my vibe. I then saw a woman in a sari and heard the men speak and instantly re-pegged them as Indians. The sense of threat disolved in an instant, and the Indian men, women, and children vanished into the mixed race/culture stew that one normally expects at any sort of public event or gathering in this area.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 22nd, 2006 05:49 pm (UTC)
"They only racist sentiments I hear expressed in NWA in this first decade of the 21st century target Mexicans and blacks. Should we consider this progress?" - Here in Calgary, AB, I get the impression there are a number of people who tell themselves that they aren't racist yet make miscellaneous remarks about 'drunk Indians' (= Native Americans) quite regularly, as if all 'Indians' were 'drunks'.

People seem to tell themselves that it's not racism if there's a reason why one doesn't like the people in question - e.g. they are 'all' vagrants or addicts or etc. - not realizing when such impressions are themselves based on racist sentiments.
May. 22nd, 2006 07:15 pm (UTC)
We love to blame our problems on other things, instead of focusing inside. Far to easy is it to cast other's as the source of our personal problems, whether than focusing inside to detect the source.
But then, we're Americans...so therefore any feelings we have are not only right, they are protected by law. Laws of course drafted by majority, which brings us round to blaming others....
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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