National Insecurities

National Insecurities

In National Insecurities by Deirdre M. Molony the author discusses immigration laws and policy. Her book is a historical analysis of immigration exclusion and deportation policy in the United States, and argues that deportation policy has served as a social filter by defining eligibility of citizenship and in turn shaping the composition of the country’s population (4). She begins her discourse in her introduction by using September 1, 2001 as an example of what led to renewed debate about immigration policy, civil liberties, and national origins and security. She states that immigration reform efforts have been stalled due to the increasingly controversial discussion around immigration and religious cross culturalism. Moloney continues on to explain that one reason for this is because state and local authorities did not want give up immigration control to federal powers (2). She supports this by explaining how business interests would resist immigration restriction efforts because labor provided by immigrants cost them less money, and fueled economic growth. Similarly, labor unions don’t want to lobby for stricter immigration control since they depend on sector employees to expand union membership (3). Another argument against stricter immigration control is the effect deportation has on the family, especially if that family depends on the deported member financially. On page four Moloney discusses how race was used to define a persons eligibility for admission/ citizenship. She argues that immigrants were subjected to this by “racially based proxy methods,” but that race was not a stable idea in immigration policy since definitions of races and their rights changed because of different factors. Gender also affected eligibility for admission. On page seven Moloney states that nonwhite and/or female individuals who challenged economic and political ideologies in highly public ways could be targeted for deportation. Some examples the author uses are Marcus Garvey, who was a proponent of Black nationalism in Jamaica and the US, or Emma Goldman who was anarchist political activist from Russia. Continuing on page seven she claims that her project puts many of these issues in transnational perspective by examining exclusion and deportation policies in the United States from the 1890s until WWII of immigrants from Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, the middle East, etc, and that her study blends social and public policy history (7). She studies this by drawing on a wider framework by combining the scholarship of political scientists, anthropologists, legal scholars, social activists, and historians (8). Then Moloney discusses deportation, exclusion, and repatriation, and on page 12 begins to write about the federal deportation process, and some of the major immigration laws that passed in 1882- 1921 that allowed exclusion of immigrant based on poverty, mental and physical health, morality, and/or political beliefs. These included the Immigration Act of 1882 , Immigration Act of 1891, Immigration Act of 1903, Immigration Act of 1907, and Immigration Act of 1917 (15). On page 16 Moloney talks about the historiographical context of her study, and how her work contributes to US social history (specifically immigration and ethnic history) as well as contributes to the broader discussion of transnational migration and globalization made by historians, sociologists, and political scientists. Later she explains how her study uses a framework that shows that pluralistic nations began moving towards restrictive policies in 1890’s-1920s, and that her comparative approach allows other immigrant historians to understand how different groups experienced these regulations and the impacts of policies by gender, region, religion, and national origins, but focuses mainly on Chinese immigration, which she claims is foundational to her analysis. This is because Chinese immigrants were the first group of immigrants to be regulated at the federal level, in a way, the Chinese could be considered the “test subjects” of immigrant policy and regulation (21-22). Then, Maloney writes about something called whiteness studies, which she defines as an area of research that has intersected with immigration history of that past (22). Whiteness studies focuses on the cultural, historical, and sociological aspects of people who identify as white, and the social construct of “whiteness” as related to social status. An example of this that she uses is Mexican Americans who sometimes consciously decide to describe them as Spanish, “whitening” themselves by identifying as Europeans (23). Moloney concludes by examining the effects of U.S deportation policy and regulation in a global context.

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