National Insecurities: Immigrants and U.S. Deportation Policy since 1882

National Insecurities: Immigrants and U.S. Deportation Policy since 1882

National Insecurities: Immigrants and U.S. Deportation Policy since 1882

National Insecurities: Immigrants and U.S. Deportation Policy since 1882

Synopsis

For over a century, deportation and exclusion have defined eligibility for citizenship in the United States and, in turn, have shaped what it means to be American. In this broad analysis of policy from 1882 to present, Deirdre Moloney places current debates about immigration issues in historical context. Focusing on several ethnic groups, Moloney closely examines how gender and race led to differences in the implementation of U.S. immigration policy as well as how poverty, sexuality, health, and ideologies were regulated at the borders.
Emphasizing the perspectives of immigrants and their advocates, Moloney weaves in details from case files that illustrate the impact policy decisions had on individual lives. She explores the role of immigration policy in diplomatic relations between the U.S. and other nations, and shows how federal, state, and local agencies had often conflicting priorities and approaches to immigration control. Throughout, Moloney traces the ways that these policy debates contributed to a modern understanding of citizenship and human rights in the twentieth century and even today.

Excerpt

U.S. immigration laws and policies are hotly debated issues in civic life. Determining who should be allowed into the United States, the equity of immigration quotas, the assignment of refugee status, and the criteria for immigrant deportation are among the issues receiving heightened public attention. Since September 11, 2001, immigration concerns have intensified, leading to renewed debates about the relationship between immigration policy, national origins, civil liberties, and national security. Detention, deportation, and citizenship rights have been the subject of several highly publicized court cases during the past several years; beginning with the Hamdi v. Rumsfeld ruling, which determined that aliens or other detainees cannot be held indefinitely and must be accorded due process rights, several Supreme Court and appeals court decisions have determined that the Bush administration’s indefinite detention of, and denial of legal rights to, noncitizens in Guantánamo and elsewhere have been unconstitutional.

In one of its first actions, the Obama administration announced that the detention center at Guantánamo Bay would close. But that decision resulted in sharp resistance soon after it was publicized. Immigration reform efforts have also stalled, in large part because of the increasing contentiousness of rhetoric around immigration and religious pluralism (including the proposed Cordoba Cultural Center in New York City, erroneously referred to as the Ground Zero Mosque, and the threatened Koran burning in Florida), fueled by draconian local and state legislation in Arizona and elsewhere and the rise of the Tea Party movement.

In the past few years, tensions between federal agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and local authorities have intensified throughout the United States in regions such as Arizona, where there has long been a substantial immigration population, and in Prince William County, Virginia, where there has not. Competing and often clashing laws and policies have been enacted in many locations to discourage immigrants from living and working in those communities and from availing themselves of local services. Since the 1980s, state and local authorities have become increasingly unwilling to cede immigration control to federal authorities. These new state, county, and local laws have created innumerable problems that were not anticipated by the local and county . . .

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