Chapter Four examines Jewish migrants’ experiences with illegal immigration in the years following the quota laws, experiences that show the extent to which illegal immigration to the United States was embedded in a complicated set of interactions between individuals and the newly established international regime of national borders and identity documents. Looking at individuals’ migration stories broadens the frame of reference beyond U.S. law, and beyond the moment in which migrants entered the United States illegally. This approach also demonstrates how unclear the boundaries between legal and illegal migration could be from the point of view of individuals struggling to make the best choices amidst the chaos and danger of post-World War I Europe. This chapter also examines the underworld of temporary “passing” in which illegal immigrants participated when they were smuggled into the country. Such masquerade challenged the fundamental categories of the quota laws even as it relied on them.
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