Dividing Lines

Dividing Lines: The Politics of Immigration Control in America

Daniel J. Tichenor
Copyright Date: 2002
Edition: STU - Student edition
Pages: 392
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  • Book Info
    Dividing Lines
    Book Description:

    Immigration is perhaps the most enduring and elemental leitmotif of America. This book is the most powerful study to date of the politics and policies it has inspired, from the founders' earliest efforts to shape American identity to today's revealing struggles over Third World immigration, noncitizen rights, and illegal aliens. Weaving a robust new theoretical approach into a sweeping history, Daniel Tichenor ties together previous studies' idiosyncratic explanations for particular, pivotal twists and turns of immigration policy. He tells the story of lively political battles between immigration defenders and doubters over time and of the transformative policy regimes they built.

    Tichenor takes us from vibrant nineteenth-century politics that propelled expansive European admissions and Chinese exclusion to the draconian restrictions that had taken hold by the 1920s, including racist quotas that later hampered the rescue of Jews from the Holocaust. American global leadership and interest group politics in the decades after World War II, he argues, led to a surprising expansion of immigration opportunities. In the 1990s, a surge of restrictionist fervor spurred the political mobilization of recent immigrants. Richly documented, this pathbreaking work shows that a small number of interlocking temporal processes, not least changing institutional opportunities and constraints, underlie the turning tides of immigration sentiments and policy regimes. Complementing a dynamic narrative with a host of helpful tables and timelines, Dividing Lines is the definitive treatment of a phenomenon that has profoundly shaped the character of American nationhood.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2498-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-15)

    This study is an inquiry into the politics of American immigration control over more than two centuries. The revered historian Oscar Handlin once observed that any adequate treatment of “the course and effects of immigration” on our country “involved no less a task than to set down the whole history of the United States.”¹ Fortunately, my purposes here are much more modest. Few of the leaders of the early republic could have guessed how profoundly immigration would influence U.S. national development. Yet almost every subsequent generation has readily understood the capacity of newcomers to dramatically alter the American society that...

  6. CHAPTER TWO The Politics of Immigration Control: Understanding the Rise and Fall of Policy Regimes
    (pp. 16-45)

    The long-term development of American immigration policy raises important issues that merit careful investigation. One is how to explain the distinctive patterns of immigration control that have prevailed for extended periods of U.S. history. What forces have sustained certain immigration policies over time? Another issue is how to account for occasional bursts of major policy change in spite of intense political conflicts that might be expected to produce routine stalemate. What propels significant innovation in this policy area? A final issue is how to make sense of the content or direction of immigration policy over time. Why do pro-immigration policies...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Immigrant Voters in a Partisan Polity: European Settlers, Nativism, and American Immigration Policy, 1776–1896
    (pp. 46-86)

    From the nation’s founding through the Gilded Age, nativist movements such as the Order of United Americans, the Know-Nothings, and the American Protective Association pressed for their anti-immigrant agendas in electoral contests and partisan structures that then dominated American political life. There was little question for these activists that parties were, as James Bryce put it, “the great moving forces” of American politics in the nineteenth century.¹ When xenophobes were not organizing third party movements like the American Republican party of the 1840s or the fleetingly successful American party of the 1850s, they pressured the mainstream Whig and Republican parties...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Chinese Exclusion and Precocious State-Building in the Nineteenth-Century American Polity
    (pp. 87-113)

    It is a common and not altogether surprising presumption that the United States was essentially “stateless” during the nineteenth century, especially given the American polity’s penchant for localism and limited government in these years. In terms of developing centralized governmental functions and powers, so the argument goes, the American republic trailed far behind its western European counterparts at least until the Progressive Era and New Deal (if not later). Of course, several scholars have highlighted the shortcomings of this received wisdom.¹ Despite a relatively weak “sense of the state” in nineteenth-century America, Stephen Skowronek observes, coercive power and institutional behavior...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Progressivism, War, and Scientific Policymaking: The Rise of the National Origins Quota System, 1900–1928
    (pp. 114-149)

    Immigration restrictionists of the early-twentieth century, like most other Progressive Era reformers, believed that bold new forms of national governance were necessary to restore economic, social, and political order to a country enduring wrenching change. Many viewed the late-nineteenth century as a time of disquieting turbulence. The closing of the frontier and the expansion of an urban industrial economy fostered greater economic interdependence that threatened cherished local autonomy. The period saw the rise of new forms of poverty that strained local relief efforts, as well as labor upheaval and socialist movements—sedate versions of class conflict and radicalism that Americans...

  10. CHAPTER SIX Two-Tiered Implementation: Jewish Refugees, Mexican Guestworkers, and Administrative Politics
    (pp. 150-175)

    The legislative achievements of immigration restrictionists in the 1920s were staggering. The Quota Acts marked a regulatory shift of unprecedented scale, one that decisively ended the path national immigration policy had followed for more than a century. The 1929 quota plan set an annual ceiling for legal immigrant admissions at 153,714, a sharp decrease from the annual average of roughly 700,000 immigrants since the turn of the century. By design, the vast majority of these cherished immigration slots were reserved for northern and western Europeans; Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, and Russian quotas soon produced ten- to seventy-five-year waiting lists. But...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN Strangers in Cold War America: The Modern Presidency, Committee Barons, and Postwar Immigration Politics
    (pp. 176-218)

    In 1940, one year after the demise of the Wagner-Rogers refugee bill, an array of liberal activists met in Washington at a conference of the American Council for the Protection of the Foreign Born (ACPFB). Among the 310 participating delegates were representatives of various ethnic groups (including Asian, Latino, and southern and eastern European leaders), civil rights organizations, humanitarian and religious groups, professional associations, academics, and several labor groups led by the CIO. At the meeting, speakers articulated a broad agenda that would animate pro-immigration reformers for the next quarter century. The ACPFB was principally dedicated to preventing “discrimination against...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT The Rebirth of American Immigration: The Rights Revolution, New Restrictionism, and Policy Deadlock
    (pp. 219-241)

    The United States has not always been a country of immigration. During the decades in which the national origins quota system flourished, immigration was highly restricted. The Hart-Celler Act of 1965 marked a decisive turnaround in national policy and helped breathe life into new era of mass immigration. Not only did annual legal immigration grow sharply after 1965, but an unprecedented majority of newcomers came from Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean (see fig. 8.1). At the same time that refugee admissions and family preferences and exemptions spurred legal immigration from nontraditional sending countries, European admissions fell to less that...

  13. CHAPTER NINE Two Faces of Expansion: The Contemporary Politics of Immigration Reform
    (pp. 242-288)

    The past quarter-century witnessed remarkable transformations in how the United States governs immigrant admissions and rights. Initially, American policymakers focused their attention in these years on a problem that seemed to highlight the extent to which national borders had become porous and inadequately regulated: illegal immigration. By the close of the millennium, however, the entire structure of U.S. immigration and of refugee and immigrant policies had been recast by significant federal legislation, independent executive actions, and judicial rulings. Sweeping policy changes of this period were achieved in both good and bad economic times, always during divided government, and despite the...

  14. CHAPTER TEN Conclusion
    (pp. 289-296)

    Immigration is a powerful and elemental leitmotif of American national development. Other modern nations, including Argentina, Australia, Canada, and France, share parallel histories with the United States as countries of immigration.¹ Yet Americans are perhaps unusual to the degree that they have woven immigration narratives and iconography into their collective cultural identity. While there are numerous countries that have been deeply affected over time by alien inflows, it is telling that so many contemporary Americans like to think of the United States as a distinctive “nation of immigrants.” Most celebrate their immigrant origins at the same time as their political...

  15. APPENDIX The Sample of Interviewees
    (pp. 297-298)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 299-360)
  17. Index
    (pp. 361-378)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 379-380)