The Immigration Crucible

The Immigration Crucible: Transforming Race, Nation, and the Limits of the Law

Philip Kretsedemas
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 232
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/kret15760
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  • Book Info
    The Immigration Crucible
    Book Description:

    In the debate over U. S. immigration, all sides now support policy and practice that expand the parameters of enforcement. Philip Kretsedemas examines this development from several different perspectives, exploring recent trends in U.S. immigration policy, the rise in extralegal state power over the course of the twentieth century, and discourses on race, nation, and cultural difference that have influenced politics and academia. He also analyzes the recent expansion of local immigration law and explains how forms of extralegal discretionary authority have become more prevalent in federal immigration policy, making the dispersion of local immigration laws possible.

    While connecting such extralegal state powers to a free flow position on immigration, Kretsedemas also observes how these same discretionary powers have been used historically to control racial minority populations, particularly African Americans under Jim Crow. This kind of discretionary authority often appeals to "states rights" arguments, recently revived by immigration control advocates. Using these and other examples, Kretsedemas explains how both sides of the immigration debate have converged on the issue of enforcement and how, despite differing interests, each faction has shaped the commonsense assumptions defining the debate.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-52732-3
    Subjects: Law, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. PREFACE
    (pp. xi-xviii)
  5. 1 INTRODUCTION: AN UNTIMELY INTERVENTION ON THE U.S. IMMIGRATION DEBATE
    (pp. 1-12)

    The immigration debate has a tendency to complicate the political fault lines that define other policy issues. It is not unusual for liberals and conservatives to join forces in favor of legislation to legalize unauthorized migrants. More rarely, immigrant rights activists and immigration restrictionists have found themselves joined in opposition to the same immigration laws—albeit for very different reasons.¹ Arguments for and against immigration can give rise to similar kinds of puzzling contradictions. For example, the argument against immigration has appealed to the economic interests of an embattled citizenry. Immigrants are often depicted as unproductive, low-skilled workers who are...

  6. 2 A DIFFERENT KIND OF IMMIGRATION, A NEW KIND OF STATELESSNESS
    (pp. 13-46)

    The great epoch of U.S. immigration that ended in the 1920s is often used as a reference point for immigration today. The peak levels of both these immigration boom periods are very similar and they both took shape during a period of free market optimism and aggressive, corporate-led economic growth.¹ As such, they can both be described as cyclical events that played an integral role in growing the U.S. economy.

    This narrative is not inaccurate, but it obscures some important differences in the way that immigration is being defined and regulated by the state in the current era. As I...

  7. 3 THE SECRET LIFE OF THE STATE
    (pp. 47-72)

    In 1905 Theodore Roosevelt issued a series of policy statements that were designed to resolve a heated debate over Asian immigration (Beale 1956, 192–199). Although immigration debates are often influenced, at some level, by concerns about the cultural or racial difference of newcomers, this debate was squarely focused on the question of race. In particular, it was focused on the future of the Asian exclusions that had been introduced to U.S. immigration policy in the late 1800s that were due to expire in 1904.¹ Given Roosevelt’s many public statements on the danger of “race suicide,”² it is likely that...

  8. 4 CONCERNED CITIZENS, LOCAL EXCLUSIONS: LOCAL IMMIGRATION LAWS AND THE LEGACY OF JIM CROW
    (pp. 73-103)

    The last chapter examined immigration policy from the vantage point of the executive office. This chapter engages a very different political terrain, but one that is no less complex: immigration laws that have been enacted by state and local governments. On one hand, local immigration laws seem to be an apt example of the expansion of executive authority under neoliberalism (see chapter 3). Similar to recent experiments with deregulation and federal devolution, local immigration laws have allowed the authority of the federal government to be parceled out to a variety of state and nonstate actors. This has produced a situation...

  9. 5 RACE, NATION, IMMIGRATION: STRANDED AT THE CROSSROADS OF LIBERAL THOUGHT
    (pp. 104-136)

    The Supreme Court’s 1923 decision in the case of Bhagat Singh Thind is one of the best-known rulings on the matter of race and citizenship. It reinforced the message sent by the 1921 Takao Ozawa decision that Asian nationals were not eligible for naturalization on the grounds that they were not white persons.¹ Both decisions were informed by the racial common sense of their day. The Thind decision, in particular, was justified on the grounds that Asian immigrants did not meet the criteria that defined what was “popularly known as the Caucasian race.”²

    The irony of the Supreme Court’s decision...

  10. 6 CONCLUSION: THE IMMIGRATION CRUCIBLE
    (pp. 137-152)

    At the time of this writing, the U.S. Congress is gearing up for yet another debate over immigration reform and also for the 2010 midterm elections. Because the outcome of the midterm elections may change the balance of partisan power in the Congress, it could be of immense significance for the next attempt to craft a new immigration law. If the Republican party regains control of the House, it is very likely that we could see a replay of the 2007 immigration debate, which featured a Senate and an Executive Office aligned with a “tough but sensible” path to legalization...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 153-182)
  12. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 183-204)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 205-214)