Cover image for The "huddled masses" myth : immigration and civil rights
The "huddled masses" myth : immigration and civil rights
Johnson, Kevin R.
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Publication Information:
Philadelphia : Temple University Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
x, 254 pages ; 23 cm

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KF4819 .J64 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Despite rhetoric that suggests that the United States opens its doors to virtually anyone who wants to come here, immigration has been restricted since the nation began. In this book, Kevin R. Johnson argues that immigration policy reflects the social hierarchy that prevails in American society as a whole and that immigration reform is intertwined with the struggle for civil rights. The "Huddled Masses" Myth focuses on the exclusion of people of color, gays and lesbians, people with disabilities, the poor, political dissidents, and other disfavored groups, showing how bias shapes the law. In the nineteenth century, for example, virulent anti-Asian bias excluded would-be immigrants from China and severely restricted those from Japan. In our own time, people fleeing persecution and poverty in Haiti generally have been treated much differently from those fleeing Cuba. Johnson further argues that although domestic minorities (whether citizens or lawful immigrants) enjoy legal protections and might even be courted by politicians, they are regarded as subordinate groups and suffer discrimination. This book has particular resonance today as the public debates the uncertain status of immigrants from Arab countries and of the Muslim faith.

Author Notes

Kevin R. Johnson is Associate Dean as well as Professor of Law and Chicana/o Studies at The University of California, Davis

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Legal scholar Johnson (Univ. of California, Davis) wades directly into the troubled waters of the dark and harsh underbelly of US immigration history. Despite welcoming more "huddled masses" than any other country in history, the US has also been quick to enact multiple laws of exclusion based on race, class, gender, sexuality, political ideology, criminality, and now, perhaps, religion. The author argues that there is a troubling link between immigration status and race. Despite mid-1960s immigration reform, which presumably lifted race-based exclusions, there remains the persistent construction of Mexicans as illegal aliens, the interdiction of Haitians before they can enter US waters, and Proposition 187 in California, which sought to deny basic human rights to some immigrants. The author concludes that such attacks mask racist intentions against US minority citizens. With equal passion, Johnson exposes historical and recent exclusion of political dissidents, the poor, "criminal aliens," and women and sexual minorities, and argues passionately for a new civil rights agenda. In this post-9/11 moment, when hundreds of Muslim "enemy aliens" (as well as US citizen Jose Padilla, a Puerto Rican convert to Islam) have been interned at the Guantanamo Bay army base, this is a most timely study. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. E. Hu-DeHart Brown University

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
1 Immigration and Civil Rights in the United Statesp. 1
2 Exclusion and Deportation of Racial Minoritiesp. 13
3 Exclusion and Deportation of Political Undesirablesp. 55
4 Exclusion and Deportation of the Poorp. 91
5 Exclusion and Deportation of Criminalsp. 109
6 The Marginalization of Women Under the Immigration and Nationality Lawsp. 124
7 Exclusion and Deportation of Lesbians and Gay Menp. 140
8 The Future of Immigration and Civil Rights in the United Statesp. 152
Notesp. 177
Indexp. 249