Friday, August 3, 2018

The “N” Words

At a U.N. press conference, Ambassador to the United Nations, Nimrata “Nikki” Haley said:

“…. we’ve never in the history of this country passed any laws or done anything based on race or religion.” 

It’s hard to know if that is just reckless political rhetoric or ignorance, but following are the facts.

Throughout history, race has been the motivation for immigration policy. Until 1952, except for two years in the 1870s, Congress allowed only white persons to become naturalized as citizens. Consequently, it is not possible to have a serious discussion about the merits of immigration without also discussing the "n" words: nationalism, nativism and naturalization.

Following is a compilation of the laws and policies that have influenced and defined immigration and naturalization in America since 1790.

Naturalization Act of 1790
Congress's first immigration policy. The Act restricted naturalization to "free white persons" of "good moral character" and required the applicant to have lived in the country for two years before becoming naturalized.
Naturalization Act of 1795
Superseded the Naturalization Act of 1790 and increased the residency requirement to five years. The five-year requirement remains on the books to this day.
Alien Enemies Act 1798
Passed by the Federalists, extended the residency requirement from five to fourteen years. It specifically targeted Irish and French immigrants who were involved in Democratic-Republican Party politics. It was repealed in 1802.

The Act also authorized the president to apprehend and deport resident aliens if their home countries were at war with the United States of America. The act remains intact today as Title 50 U.S. Code § 21 “24
Indian Appropriations Act 1851
Gathered Native American tribes and placed them on reservations in order to allow white settlers and traders to take over Native American lands. This Act set a precedent for modern-day Native American reservations.

The Cherokee hired lawyers and won their case before the U.S. Supreme Court (Worcester v. State of Georgia), but were forced to emigrate anyway. The Trail of Tears refers to the forced relocation between 1836 to 1839 of the Cherokee Nation which resulted in the deaths of approximately 4,000 Cherokee.
The Know Nothing Party in 1854 and 1856
The Know Nothing movement was a nativist political movement whose aim was to curb the immigration and naturalization of German and Irish Catholics. Membership was limited to middle-class Protestant males of British lineage over the age of twenty-one.
14th Amendment, Section 1; 1868
All persons born or naturalized in the United States are citizens of the United States. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges of citizens of the United States; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

All children born within the United States receive citizenship at birth.
The Naturalization Act of 1870
Restricted all immigration into the U.S. to only "white persons and persons of African descent." All Chinese were placed in a category as ineligible for citizenship until 1943.

This law was the first bar on free immigration in American history, making the Chinese the only culture prohibited from migrating to the United States.
The Page Act of 1875 
Prohibited the immigration of:

(1) contracted labor from "China, Japan, or any Oriental country" that was not "free and voluntary,"
(2) Chinese prostitution and

(3) criminals and women who would engage in prostitution.

It severely restricted the immigration of Asian women and paved the way for the Chinese Exclusion Act.
Source: Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper
Chinese Exclusion Act 1882
For sixty-one years, the Chinese were excluded from entering the United States and becoming natural citizens. By 1924 all Asian racial groups were restricted.

Chinese were again allowed to immigrate in 1943 when the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed because China became an American ally after World War II began.
The Naturalization Act of 1906
Required immigrants to learn to speak English in order to become naturalized citizens; took effect September 27, 1906.
Asiatic Barred Zone Act of 1917
The act excluded:
"all idiots, imbeciles, homosexuals, the feeble-minded, epileptics, the insane; alcoholics; paupers; beggars; vagrants; persons afflicted with tuberculosis or dangerous contagious disease; the mentally or physically defective; felons; polygamists and all aliens over sixteen years of age who could not read."
The entry tax increased to $8. Congress passed the Act with an overwhelming majority, overriding President Woodrow Wilson's veto.  

German American Internment 1917
250,000 males over age 14 were required to register at the local post office, to carry their registration at all times, and to report any change of address or employment. The same regulations and registration requirements were imposed on females.

6,300 were arrested, thousands were interrogated and investigated. A total of 2,048 were incarcerated for the remainder of the war. The cases were managed by the Enemy Alien Registration, headed by 22-year-old J. Edgar Hoover.
The Immigration Act of 1924
The law further restricted Southern and Eastern Europeans, as well as prohibited the immigration of East Asians and Asian Indians. Most proponents of the law were concerned with upholding an ethnic status quo and avoiding competition with foreign workers.
Italian American Internment 1939 
By 1940, there were millions of native-born Italian Americans in the United States and more than 600,000 Italians who had never become naturalized citizens. During World War II, they were all considered enemy aliens. Thousands were adversely affected by the restrictions imposed.

On November 7, 2000, Congress passed Public Law 106-451, the Wartime Violation of Italian American Civil Liberties Act:
"... the story of the treatment of Italian Americans during World War II needs to be told in order to acknowledge that these events happened, to remember those whose lives were unjustly disrupted and whose freedoms were violated."
German American Internment 1939
Under the authority of the Alien Enemies Act of 1798, over 11,507 Germans and German Americans were interned; 6,300 were arrested; 2,048 were incarcerated and thousands evicted from coastal areas at the start of World War II.  
In addition, over 4,500 ethnic Germans and 81 Jewish Germans who had fled persecution in Nazi Germany were returned to the U.S. from Latin America and detained, even though just eight were people suspected of espionage. Many were held until the end of the war.
Japanese-American internment 1942
Approximately 110,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese were forced to camps called "War Relocation Camps," in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

All people of Japanese ancestry were excluded from the entire Pacific coast, including all of California and most of Oregon and Washington, except for those in internment camps.
The United States Census Bureau assisted the internment efforts by providing confidential neighborhood information on Japanese-Americans. The last prisoner wasn't released until April 1920, a full year and a half after the end of the war.

In 1988, Congress passed legislation which apologized for the internment....
"government actions were based on "race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership".
The McCarran-Walter Act of 1952
It focused upon denying immigrants who were unlawful, immoral, diseased in any way, politically radical etc. and accepting those who were willing and able to assimilate into the US economic, social, and political structures.
Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965
Abolished the quota system that favored immigration from Europe and limited immigration from Asia and South America.
The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996
The legislation defined an array of issues to do with legal and illegal immigration -- from outlining how border patrol agents should administer visa processing, to how to handle deportation proceedings -- it established enforcement and patrolling practices.
2018 - Muslim Ban

2018 - Internment of asylum seekers and separation of families at the Southern border.

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