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Mothers without Citizenship

Mothers without Citizenship: Asian Immigrant Families and the Consequences of Welfare Reform

Lynn Fujiwara
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 272
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttthpg
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  • Book Info
    Mothers without Citizenship
    Book Description:

    Lynn Fujiwara reveals a neglected aspect of the Asian immigrant story: the ill effects of welfare reform on Asian immigrant women and families. Fujiwara argues that these measures redefined immigrants as outsiders whose lack of citizenship was used to deem them ineligible for public benefits. At once astute policy analysis and insightful research, Mothers without Citizenship offers nuance to the discussion of the consequences of social policy on Asian immigrant communities.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5662-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction Sanctioning Immigrants “Ending Welfare as We Know It”
    (pp. xiii-xxx)

    Struggles over immigration have typically been shaped by nativist concerns over the racial and cultural fabric of the United States as a nation-state. Concerns over immigrants are often couched in terms of scarce resources, workplace competition, cultural unity, and assimilability. Contentious and controversial immigration politics are not new to the United States; in our increasing state of globalization, immigration policy has increasingly concerned citizenship politics that differentiates rights and entitlements on the basis of citizenship status.

    Within the United States, contemporary nationalist formations reveal an anti-immigrant sentiment and discourse resonating with a racialized and gendered hostility that reasserts assumptions of...

  5. 1 New Nativism and Welfare Reform: Asian Immigrants as Racialized Foreigners
    (pp. 1-21)

    In the latter decades of the twentieth century, the Asian American population grew exponentially. From 1980 to 1990, the overall Asian Pacific American (APA) population in the United States increased 95.2 percent. By the year 2000, 12.5 million Asian Pacific Americans resided in the United States, comprising 4.5 percent of the total U.S. population.¹

    Regional patterns of settlement have always shaped Asian American politics as well as community and individual experiences. California has, from the start, been at the forefront of contentious state politics in response to Asian immigration. In the year 2000, 48 percent of Asian Pacific Americans (APAs)...

  6. 2 Welfare Reform and the Politics of Citizenship
    (pp. 22-50)

    Why does citizenship matter in an examination of welfare? For the first time in welfare history, the 1996 reform law explicitly made citizenship status a criterion of eligibility for public benefits. At a minimum, the economic motivations were implicit in the 40 percent savings made to the welfare budget from immigrant cuts alone. The rationale to exclude immigrants from public assistance came at a time when neoliberal free trade policies were proliferating to advance the movement of capital, and while nativist Americans struggled to fortify U.S. borders in the face of a persistent transnational migration to the U.S. imperial center....

  7. 3 Refugees Betrayed
    (pp. 51-92)

    Chia Yang, a Hmong woman who found refuge in the United States, committed suicide in her Sacramento, California, home in October 1997. About forty thousand Hmong, including Mrs. Yang’s husband and her two brothers, were enlisted by the CIA from 1961 to 1974 as guerillas in the Vietnam War. In return, they were given rice and an average salary of three dollars per month.¹ After the CIA lost its covert war in Laos and abandoned the Hmong hill tribal villages in 1974, Chia Yang, her husband, and six children fled across the Mekong River and into the jungles of Thailand....

  8. 4 The Rush for Citizenship: Naturalization as a Technocratic Apparatus of Exclusion
    (pp. 93-127)

    When the Personal Responsibility Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) first passed, the only assured advice that community service providers and legal advocates could offer to their confused and panicked constituents was to naturalize. Once the law was enacted, immigrant rights organizations began large-scale citizenship drives to expedite the naturalization process for numerous immigrants, by helping them complete their paperwork and by answering their questions in a less intimidating and more supportive environment. Record numbers of immigrants began filing for naturalization, producing a two-year waiting list within months of the law’s passage. This timeframe proved detrimental for those immigrants losing benefits...

  9. 5 On Not Making Ends Meet: Mothers without Citizenship
    (pp. 128-153)

    When the issue of welfare is raised, an immediate association arises with single mothers, reproduction, and what was formerly Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and is now Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). In fact, the political preoccupation with welfare reform, as it encompassed drastic changes to multiple forms of public assistance, became synonymous in the arguments of avid reformers with assumptions about undeserving welfare mothers, deviant women’s irresponsibility, and dependency. The racial gendered politics that surrounded the construction of thewelfare queenconjured racist images of laziness and unworthiness to legitimize the complete undoing of a sixty-year...

  10. 6 The Devaluation of Immigrant Families
    (pp. 154-178)

    Confusion over TANF and its welfare-to-work requirements, far more complicated than the regulations of AFDC, resulted in a 53 percent enrollment drop among families headed by legal permanent residents, and a 79 percent drop by refugee-headed families.¹ Immigrant-headed families have more commonly been mixed-citizen families. Nationally, 78 percent of children of immigrants were U.S.-born citizens in 1992;² thus, any social policy directed at noncitizen parents would ultimately impact American citizen children. Changes in Medicaid, food stamps, and SSI have also resulted in reduced income and fewer resources for families headed by immigrants (through cuts, as noted in previous chapters, based...

  11. Conclusion: The Continuing Significance of Racialized Citizenship
    (pp. 179-198)

    When I think back to the words left behind by Chia Yang, I remain so perplexed at how government officials can boast that “welfare reform was a great success.” For some, suicide was seen as the only way out. Millions of others continue to experience higher levels of poverty and hunger; and their children now have less parental supervision, contact, and nurturing because either their mothers are struggling to fulfill thirty hours of work requirements, or they are engaged in long hours of exploitative labor to make ends meet. The boiling pot that Yang described reflects the social, political, and...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 199-226)
  13. Index
    (pp. 227-240)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 241-241)