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How Race Is Made in America

How Race Is Made in America: Immigration, Citizenship, and the Historical Power of Racial Scripts

Natalia Molina
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Pages: 213
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  • Book Info
    How Race Is Made in America
    Book Description:

    How Race Is Made in America examines Mexican Americans-from 1924, when American law drastically reduced immigration into the United States, to 1965, when many quotas were abolished-to understand how broad themes of race and citizenship are constructed. These years shaped the emergence of what Natalia Molina describes as an immigration regime, which defined the racial categories that continue to influence perceptions in the United States about Mexican Americans, race, and ethnicity. Molina demonstrates that despite the multiplicity of influences that help shape our concept of race, common themes prevail. Examining legal, political, social, and cultural sources related to immigration, she advances the theory that our understanding of race is socially constructed in relational ways-that is, in correspondence to other groups. Molina introduces and explains her central theory, racial scripts, which highlights the ways in which the lives of racialized groups are linked across time and space and thereby affect one another. How Race Is Made in America also shows that these racial scripts are easily adopted and adapted to apply to different racial groups.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95719-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    How Race Is Made in America examines Mexican immigration from 1924 to 1965 in order to understand how race and citizenship were constructed during this crucial period. I demonstrate that what was unique about these years was the emergence of what I call an immigration regime that remade racial categories that still shape the way we think about race, and specifically Mexicans. Through an examination of a diverse array of legal, political, social, and cultural sources related to the immigration regime, I offer historical answers as to why Mexican Americans are still not deemed fully American and are largely equated...

  6. PART ONE. Immigration Regimes I:: Mapping Race and Citizenship

    • CHAPTER 1 Placing Mexican Immigration within the Larger Landscape of Race Relations in the United States
      (pp. 19-42)

      In 1930 Roy Garis, a professor of economics at Vanderbilt University, submitted his “Report on Immigration,” an intensive study of Mexicans in the United States, to Representative John Box of Texas, a diehard opponent of Mexican immigration. Box presented the report in the House of Representatives’ extensive hearings on three bills with the same goal: to place immigration quotas on countries in the Western Hemisphere, just as the 1924 Immigration Act had placed quotas on European countries. Reducing immigration from Mexico in particular was a major priority; one bill suggested limiting immigration from Mexico to 2,500 persons per year, a...

    • CHAPTER 2 “What Is a White Man?”: The Quest to Make Mexicans Ineligible for U.S. Citizenship
      (pp. 43-67)

      So began an editorial published in The Nation in 1924. The editors were responding to recent Supreme Court decisions and pending cases that pivoted on understandings of race and citizenship. According to the Naturalization Act of 1790 and its revision in 1870, only those who were deemed white or black could become citizens, so there was much at stake in how one answered “Who is a white man?”² The Supreme Court had ruled that neither Japanese persons nor Asian Indians were white in Ozawa v. United States (1922) and United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind (1923). Moreover since Section 13...

    • CHAPTER 3 Birthright Citizenship beyond Black and White
      (pp. 68-88)

      In 2011 the Arizona State Senate defeated a bill that challenged the Fourteenth Amendment’s provision of automatic citizenship to children born in the United States whose parents are undocumented residents. The legislation was proposed a year after the passage of S.B. 1070, an Arizona law directed at Mexicans that made it a state crime to be undocumented.¹ Around the same time that the Arizona legislature was deciding the fate of its Mexican immigrant population, a separate issue around birthright emerged. A group of opponents of President Barack Obama, popularly known as “birthers,” questioned his right to be president based on...

  7. PART TWO. Immigration Regimes II:: Making Mexicans Deportable

    • CHAPTER 4 Mexicans Suspended in a State of Deportability: Medical Racialization and Immigration Policy in the 1940s
      (pp. 91-111)

      In 1940 U.S. Border Patrol agents in California’s Imperial Valley arrested and began deportation proceedings for Mike Gutiérrez, president of a local chapter of the Congress of Industrial Organizations. Supporters of Gutiérrez and advocates of other Mexican workers arrested at about the same time and under similar pretenses accused the Border Patrol of acting on behalf of the Associated Farmers, a stridently antiunion growers’ organization.¹ One of the most contentious parts of the conflict involved how the officers obtained the evidence for the arrests and deportation proceedings. There were claims that doctors at a public health clinic in a federal...

    • CHAPTER 5 Deportations in the Urban Landscape
      (pp. 112-138)

      “Back to Mexico, Pancho,” read the caption under a front-page photo of four young Mexican men detained during the raid that inaugurated Operation Wetback.¹ The local Southern California newspaper in which the picture appeared captured the tone of this INS campaign efficiently and effectively in two headlines: “U.S. Orders Calif. Mopup of Wetbacks” and “War Opened on Wetbacks.” Another raid was described as involving “a flying squad of 75 border patrolman and immigration officers . . . [who would] sweep through factories, into Skid Row saloons and hotels and ferret out illegal Mexican aliens in other Los Angeles locations.”² The...

    • Epilogue: Making Race in the Twenty-first Century
      (pp. 139-152)

      Throughout this book I have demonstrated that race is not made in just one moment or by just one powerful person or group. Instead race is created across time by various players who attach different (and sometimes contradictory) meanings to both cultural and structural forces. Yet despite the multiplicity of influences that help shape our concept of race, common themes prevail. These themes are often molded and transformed, or even revived and recycled, by those in power to advance explicit and/or implicit agendas. The use of a relational lens deepens this understanding of race as made by revealing how easily...

  8. NOTES
    (pp. 153-182)
    (pp. 183-198)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 199-207)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 208-209)