Family Reunification and the Meaning of Race and Nation in American Migration
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication
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About the Author
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Note on Terminology
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I am quite mindful of the significance and role of language in shaping debate and signifying meaning in political discourse, particularly on topics as heated as immigration. Immigrant activists have criticized the use of terms such as “illegal alien,” “illegal immigrant,” and “illegal immigration” as dehumanizing and racist. Some activists have advocated the use of “undocumented” in place of “illegal.” I am sensitive to these concerns...
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As an immigrant and child of immigrants in American society, I have long experienced the far-reaching impact of U.S. immigration laws and policies. As a young child, I shared my parents’ sadness in our family’s separation while we waited to be reunited in our new homeland. I could not understand the political or social implications of immigration...
Chapter 1: Introduction: “Family Reunification Has Been the Cornerstone of Our Immigration Policy”
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In 1903, Rihei Onishi, an immigrant from Japan, began a rice farm in Pierce, Texas. He achieved enough economic success that by 1906 several dozen men from Japan had joined him in Texas, leasing land from him. In 1909, when Onishi went to Japan for a visit, six of his tenant farmers asked him to bring their fiancées and wives back to the United States...
Chapter 2: “The Fabric of Our Civilization as We Know It”: Family in Research and Policy
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On the floor of the House of Representatives on April 11, 1924, Rep. Victor Berger from Wisconsin, the first Socialist Party member elected to the House, offered an amendment to a bill that would provide non-quota status to spouses, minor children, and parents of immigrant residents who stated their intention to become citizens. He boldly...
Chapter 3: “I Have Kept My Blood Pure”: Gender Propriety, Class Privilege, and Racial Purity in Family Reunification During the Exclusion Era
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On September 1, 1916, Quok Shee, age twenty, arrived on Angel Island from Hong Kong. She accompanied Chew Hoy Quong, a fifty-fiveyear- old Chinese immigrant living in San Francisco who had originally landed in the United States in 1881. Chew Hoy Quong was a partner in a business that sold herbs and medicines and as such was a merchant who...
Chapter 4: “Reason of Elemental Humanity”: The Urgency of Uniting Families in the Postwar Era on the Road to Immigration Reform
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On October 11, 1945, nearly one thousand British women from all parts of Great Britain lined up outside Caxton Hall in London, many with babies in their arms, for a meeting organized by the Married Women’s Association. The women had earlier planned to march with some ten thousand participants before the police canceled the scheduled event; their...
Chapter 5: “Our Nation’s Efforts to Protect Families Has Fallen Far Short”: Pluralist Ideals and Vulnerable Families
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In a letter dated June 11, 1984, and addressed to Rep. Peter Rodino (DNJ), chair of the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Nationality, regarding a bill proposing to alter family reunification provisions, Hyman Bookbinder of the American Jewish Committee reminded the congressman: “America’s commitment to fair and humane entry preferences for...
Chapter 6: Conclusion: “What Basis Do We Use to Decide Who Gets to Come?”
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In 2007, a year after hundreds of thousands of immigrants and their supporters demonstrated in Los Angeles and elsewhere to demand the liberalization of U.S. immigration laws, members of the Senate considered a proposal, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act (CIRA), to do just that. The bill had three critical features: a pathway to citizenship for the...
Appendix: Data and Methods
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This book examines the centrality of meanings of family and family reunification to American immigration policy and traces how ideas about family, race, and nation have permeated the development of immigration policy. Because I am concerned with how ideas influence policy, I focus on the construction and deployment of meaning by the actors who...
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Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 2013