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This book traces the origins of the "illegal alien" in American law and society, explaining why and how illegal migration became the central problem in U.S. immigration policy--a process that profoundly shaped ideas and practices about citizenship, race, and state authority in the twentieth century.
Mae Ngai offers a close reading of the legal regime of restriction that commenced in the 1920s--its statutory architecture, judicial genealogies, administrative enforcement, differential treatment of European and non-European migrants, and long-term effects. In well-drawn historical portraits, Ngai peoples her study with the Filipinos, Mexicans, Japanese, and Chinese who comprised, variously, illegal aliens, alien citizens, colonial subjects, and imported contract workers. She shows that immigration restriction, particularly national-origin and numerical quotas, re-mapped the nation both by creating new categories of racial difference and by emphasizing as never before the nation's contiguous land borders and their patrol. This yielded the "illegal alien," a new legal and political subject whose inclusion in the nation was a social reality but a legal impossibility--a subject without rights and excluded from citizenship. Questions of fundamental legal status created new challenges for liberal democratic society and have directly informed the politics of multiculturalism and national belonging in our time.
Ngai's analysis is based on extensive archival research, including previously unstudied records of the U.S. Border Patrol and Immigration and Naturalization Service. Contributing to American history, legal history, and ethnic studies, Impossible Subjects is a major reconsideration of U.S. immigration in the twentieth century.
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Before the twentieth century, personal debt resided on the fringes of the American economy, the province of small-time criminals and struggling merchants. By the end of the century, however, the ...
In 1958, an African-American handyman named Jimmy Wilson was sentenced to die in Alabama for stealing two dollars. Shocking as this sentence was, it was overturned only after intense international ...
"Fascinating.... A major work by a leading historian at the top of his game—at once engaging and tightly argued." —The New York Times Book Review“Dazzling ...
In the early 1960s, American conservatives seemed to have fallen on hard times. McCarthyism was on the run, and movements on the political left were grabbing headlines. The media lampooned John ...
Modern British politics begins with the Labour victory at the Spen Valley by-election in early 1920. In the next four years, the challenge presented by its arrival as a major electoral force enabled ...
This volume is the first wide-ranging study of the rise of the mass media in Germany from a social and cultural-historical perspective. Going far beyond the conventional focus on the organizational ...
Unlike the 1930s, when the United States tragically failed to open its doors to Europeans fleeing Nazism, the country admitted over three million refugees during the Cold War. This dramatic ...
Suburban sprawl transformed the political culture of the American South as much as the civil rights movement did during the second half of the twentieth century. The Silent Majority ...
Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America