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After They Closed the GatesJewish Illegal Immigration to the United States, 1921-1965$
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Libby Garland

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226122458

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226122595.001.0001

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Building the Apparatus of Immigration Control

Building the Apparatus of Immigration Control

(p.14) Chapter 1 Building the Apparatus of Immigration Control
After They Closed the Gates

Libby Garland

University of Chicago Press

This chapter explores the social and political forces of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that produced the quotas. During this era of national anxiety over the inferiority of the “new immigrants,” the federal government took stronger measures to control immigration. The era’s race science, which declared southern and eastern Europeans, along with Asians, unassimilable foreigners, combined with the nationalism of World War I and widespread anti-immigrant sentiment to set the stage for new forms of immigration restriction and control. But it is wrong to take at face value the laws’ seemingly precise formula for controlling immigration. Indeed, the laws reflected confusion rather than certainty about classifying groups of people from around the globe. Such confusion, in turn, made it possible for illegal immigration to flourish. The laws were predicated on the idea that there were sharp divisions among races and peoples, but in practice it was hard for officials to make such distinctions.

Keywords:   illegal immigration, immigration control, immigration policy, Jews, nativism, new immigrants, quota laws, race science

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