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The Qualities of a Citizen

The Qualities of a Citizen: Women, Immigration, and Citizenship, 1870-1965

Martha Gardner
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    The Qualities of a Citizen
    Book Description:

    The Qualities of a Citizentraces the application of U.S. immigration and naturalization law to women from the 1870s to the late 1960s. Like no other book before, it explores how racialized, gendered, and historical anxieties shaped our current understandings of the histories of immigrant women. The book takes us from the first federal immigration restrictions against Asian prostitutes in the 1870s to the immigration "reform" measures of the late 1960s. Throughout this period, topics such as morality, family, marriage, poverty, and nationality structured historical debates over women's immigration and citizenship.

    At the border, women immigrants, immigration officials, social service providers, and federal judges argued the grounds on which women would be included within the nation. As interview transcripts and court documents reveal, when, where, and how women were welcomed into the country depended on their racial status, their roles in the family, and their work skills. Gender and race mattered.

    The book emphasizes the comparative nature of racial ideologies in which the inclusion of one group often came with the exclusion of another. It explores how U.S. officials insisted on the link between race and gender in understanding America's peculiar brand of nationalism. It also serves as a social history of the law, detailing women's experiences and strategies, successes and failures, to belong to the nation.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2657-5
    Subjects: Sociology, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. In the Shadow of the Law
    (pp. 1-10)

    Hoping to exchange the instability of 1918 revolutionary Mexico for the economic possibilities in New Mexico, Concepción de la Cruz and her family traveled from Sierra Mojada to the United States in search of work and peace. At the border, while her mother and her younger siblings had their clothing removed and disinfected, their scalps probed for lice, their bodies bathed and then inspected for disease and defect, and their intentions scrutinized during the arduous and demoralizing process of legal immigration, de la Cruz and her father were spared. “We all came together to the bridge, and they let my...

  4. CHAPTER ONE Immigrants, Citizens, and Marriage
    (pp. 13-30)

    Testifying in 1930 before the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, Kenneth Y. Fung, executive secretary of the Chinese American Citizens’ Alliance of San Francisco, argued for the primacy of moral law over the dictates of immigration policy. The threat to the nation, Fung suggested, lay not in the inclusion of more racial others, but in the exclusion and separation of increasing numbers of families. “The home is the basis of the life of the Nation,” Fung warned, “and without a wife and mother a home can hardly exist.” Fung cautioned committee members against allowing the appearance of racial difference...

  5. CHAPTER TWO The Limits of Derivative Citizenship
    (pp. 31-49)

    In the years before women achieved independent citizenship, marriage did not mean access for all women. Marriage was at center of the conflict between laws allowing family reunification and those preventing the arrival of unwanted laborers, prostitutes, and racial “others.” As a result, marriage and wives came under intense scrutiny. Derivative citizenship had its limits.

    In the process of identifying a loyal and valid wife, authorities found themselves having to define the boundaries of legal marriage. The merits of correspondence marriages, religious marriages, common-law marriages, and intended marriages were all debated in terms that reflected a growing concern over the...

  6. CHAPTER THREE Seeing Difference
    (pp. 50-72)

    Perhaps the greatest challenge to the legal image of women immigrants as wives lay in the threat of women’s sexual labor outside the home. In his December, 1874 message to Congress, President Ulysses S. Grant called upon the legislature to shore up the nation’s borders against the arrival of Chinese women “brought for shameful purposes, to the disgrace of the communities where settled and to the great demoralization of the youth of these localities.”¹ Anti-Chinese sentiment had been building on theWest Coast; although primarily aimed at laboring men, racialized hostility was also directed at Chinese women. Grant’s message to Congress...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR Constructing a Moral Border
    (pp. 73-86)

    Morally acceptable and racially permissible, Aurelie Darlet arrived in New York on February 14, 1905. Five years later, in 1910, she was arrested in Oakland, California, for practicing prostitution and was subsequently deported. In a series of statutes beginning in 1907, the law excluding prostitutes was amended to include women or girls coming to the United States “for any other immoral purposes” and to increase the period after arrival within which immigrant woman could be deported for immoral conduct. Laws directed at prohibiting “other immoral purposes,” however, offered little guidance in adjudicating what conduct should be considered immoral. The process...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE Likely to Become
    (pp. 87-99)

    When Etta Horowitz arrived in the United States in 1910, immigration officials expressed concern that she had neither enough money nor the necessary earning potential to support herself and her two youngest children. A thirty-five-year-old Jewish widow from Romania, Horowitz insisted her skills as a tailoress had always proved sufficient to keep body, soul, and family together. “Since your husband died,” officials at Ellis Island queried, “how had you made your living?” “I work as a tailoress,” Horowitz responded. Unconvinced, officials probed further for evidence of poverty, “Did you ever receive any assistance from any charitable organizations.” “No, I received...

  9. CHAPTER SIX Toil and Trouble
    (pp. 100-118)

    Laws against indigence and laws controlling where and how immigrants were employed, were two sides of the same coin. How poverty was understood was intimately linked to ideas of work and wage. “Likely to become” not only served to regulate the relationship between individual need and community responsibility, but also valued and schematized work along a double helix of gender and race. In the early twentieth century, immigration laws favored the arrival of women whose primary work lay in the home, theirs or someone else’s, while frustrating the arrival of women with work skills that took them into the factories...

  10. CHAPTER SEVEN When Americans Are Not Citizens
    (pp. 121-138)

    In a 1932 letter to the immigration authorities in Washington, D.C., Mary Ann Montoya inquired about the state of her citizenship. “Would you please tell me if I can take out my first naturalization papers,” Montoya wrote, “I was born in Austria in 1907 came to Canada in 1914 and in August 1914 came to the US. In 1926 I was married to a Filipino, although there is a law in Oregon forbidding marriage between whites and orientals, a marriage license was issue to us at the Court House.”¹

    While Mary Ann Montoya, a European immigrant, sought help from INS...

  11. CHAPTER EIGHT When Citizens Are Not White
    (pp. 139-156)

    The Cable Act of 1922 challenged the idea that a woman’s political status was determined by her husband’s, but it reaffirmed race as a product of marriage and family. A period that saw the expansion of suffrage and citizenship rights for some women was marked as firmly by the increased exclusion and restriction of others. After 1922, only women who had married men racially eligible for citizenship were granted independent citizenship. While political status had been separated out from marriage for some women, race status remained in many ways a quality of marriage, mired in complicated webs of sexual intimacy,...

  12. CHAPTER NINE Reproducing the Nation
    (pp. 157-175)

    The Cable Act and its various amendments of the 1930s expanded the citizenship rights of some while insisting on the significance of race to the nation. This strange brew of ideas of equality and those of race simmered in a climate of conflict and fear; conflict between a legal tradition rooted in the Fourteenth Amendment that offered birthright citizenship to nonwhite children on the one hand and fears of immigrant women’s reproduction of ever more nonwhite children on the other. The threat of immigrant women’s reproduction became a clarion call to those seeking to shore up the nation’s defenses against...

  13. CHAPTER TEN Women in Need
    (pp. 176-198)

    If the presence of women and their children raised fears about racial difference, they also provoked anxieties about poverty and dependency. During the height of the Great Depression, few immigrants could claim to be free of the shadow of poverty. “Likely to become a public charge” (LPC) provided a malleable language of possibility that allowed the law to respond to changes in labor markets, social welfare, and women’s role in the economy over the course of the twentieth century. By the mid-1930s, LPC was applied with greater frequency and greater vigor by immigration authorities, contributing to drastic reductions in the...

  14. CHAPTER ELEVEN At Work in the Nation
    (pp. 199-220)

    WorldWar II wrought new political allies and new economic realities. It also initiated a new phase in American immigration and naturalization policy. The slow dismantling of race-based exclusion policies between 1940 and 1965 constituted a radical departure from a legal tradition that insisted on the significance of race for citizenship and immigration status. New preference systems replaced older national origins schemes, and race finally ceased to be an independent category of exclusion, a century after its introduction. Yet economic status, race, and gender continued to play a significant role in determining arrival and access to citizenship well into the post–...

  15. CHAPTER TWELVE Families, Made in America
    (pp. 223-239)

    In 1953 and 1956,Life Magazinefollowed the efforts of two women to join their husbands living in the United States. Loyalty, commitment, patience, and love provided the emotional ground for these women’s public appeal, while laws that prohibited families and separated husbands and wives were condemned as un-American. “Love or the Law?,” which appeared in 1953, related the story of Anne Craps, a Belgian bride, and Ray Urabazo, her American airman husband.¹ In a final picture in the photo essay, Craps is shown sitting on 700 sheets of paper, a year of love letters from her husband, carefully lined...

  16. CHAPTER THIRTEEN Marriage and Morality
    (pp. 240-253)

    If postwar America was a nation of families, then traditional ideas of marriage stood at the center of this idea of the nation as home. In contrast to those who came to work, but not to stay, those who sought only material advantage, not civic fidelity, those who seemed alone and adrift rather than contributing as members of strong families and productive communities, marriage symbolized belonging, permanence, loyalty, and commitment to the nation. As one court argued in 1952, “we must not forget that our civilization is built around a family relation which should be held as sacred as possible...

  17. CONCLUSION Regulating Belonging
    (pp. 254-256)

    Elaine Archtans wanted to travel to the United States to see the World Cup soccer championships in 1994. When she appeared before U.S. consular officials in Sao Pãulo, Brazil, however, the twenty-three-year-old of-fice worker was denied as “LP! ! ! !” by American officials who believed Archtans “looks poor.” A second Brazilian woman was refused by consular officials in 1993 with the evaluation “No way. Poor, poor, poor.” A third woman was denied her visa when consular officials in Sao Pãulo determined that she “L scary”—looks scary. Pointing to a history of “major fraud,” U.S. officials in Brazil were...

  18. A Brief Guide to Archival Sources
    (pp. 257-260)
  19. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 261-262)
  20. Index
    (pp. 263-271)