At America's Gates: Chinese Immigration during the Exclusion Era, 1882-1943.At America's Gates: Chinese Immigration immigration, entrance of a person (an alien) into a new country for the purpose of establishing permanent residence. Motives for immigration, like those for migration generally, are often economic, although religious or political factors may be very important. during the Exclusion Era, 1882-1943. By Erika Lee (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press The University of North Carolina Press (or UNC Press), founded in 1922, is a university press that is part of the University of North Carolina. External link
Historians have long been fascinated by the Chinese Exclusion Act 1. Any of several acts forbidding the immigration of Chinese laborers into the United States, originally from 1882 to 1892 by act of May 6, 1882, then from 1892 to 1902 by act May 5, 1892. of 1882, which marked the first--but by no means the last--time in U.S. history that immigration was limited on the basis of race and class. Political historians, who were the first to explore the topic, focused on the legislative strategies and racial ideologies that enabled the passage of the 1882 law and its several successors. Asian American A·sian A·mer·i·can also A·sian-A·mer·i·can
A U.S. citizen or resident of Asian descent. See Usage Note at Amerasian.
A historians called attention to the chilling effects Chilling Effects is a collaboration between several law school clinics and the Electronic Frontier Foundation to protect lawful online activity from legal threats. Their website, chillingeffects. exclusion policy had on Chinese immigrant communities, then began to trace the transnational networks immigrants developed to resist the laws. The latest scholarship shifts the focus from the internal dynamics of ethnic communities to the race-making powers of the state, or what Mae Ngai has so aptly described as "the architecture of race in American immigration law This article or section contains information about scheduled or expected future events.
It may contain tentative information; the content may change as the event approaches and more information becomes available. ." In this vein, for example, Lucy Salyer's Laws Harsh as Tigers details the daily operation of exclusion law in the thousands of court challenges brought by Chinese immigrants denied entrance into the United States. (1)
Erika Lee is the first scholar to weave these disparate strands together. Her book, At America's Gates, offers a detailed examination of the motives and methods of immigration officials, a moving portrayal of the experiences of Chinese immigrants, a provocative argument that Chinese exclusion fostered the turn-of-the-century growth of the American nation state as well as its budding imperial projects, and a fascinating analysis of the transnational business of illegal immigration as it developed over the six decades, from 1882 to 1943, during which exclusion laws were in effect. All this scholarly substance is wrapped up in such a well organized and clearly written package that At America's Gates is, in a nutshell, the single most useful book on the history of Chinese exclusion.
At America's Gates opens with a relatively brief, but nonetheless intriguing, discussion of the perennial question of the motives behind the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act. Political historians are currently debating whether the white workingmen in San Francisco who first proposed excluding the Chinese did so out of gut-level racism or because they objected to contract labor, but Lee wisely shifts this discussion to new ground. Rather than emphasizing the "labor" aspect of Chinese exclusion, she emphasizes the "western" part of the equation, arguing that the late 19th-century U.S. West became the birthplace of anti-Chinese legislation because of the "history of extending and reinforcing white supremacy in the region and its unique relationship with the federal government." (p. 29).
After this discussion has set the stage, the substantive body of the book rests on a treasure trove TREASURE TROVE. Found treasure.
2. This name is given to such money or coin, gold, silver, plate, or bullion, which having been hidden or concealed in the earth or other private place, so long that its owner is unknown, has been discovered by accident. of sources--the 100,000+ immigration files compiled by U.S. government officials on every Chinese who applied for admission in the port of San Francisco The Port of San Francisco lies on the western edge of the San Francisco Bay at the Golden Gate. It has been called one of the three great natural harbors in the world, but it took two long centuries for navigators from Spain and England to find the anchorage originally called Yerba . Lee is the first historian to make systematic use of these sources, which were opened to scholars only in the late 1980s, and her careful analysis of a random sample of 600 of these files grounds a wonderfully lucid overview of the nuts and bolts nuts and bolts
The basic working components or practical aspects: "[proposing] of Chinese exclusion policy. Her second chapter focuses on immigration officials, tracing their transformation from a motley collection of politically appointed anti-Chinese ideologues acting under the nominal direction of the Customs Service into a career civil service unit of the Bureau of Immigration. The third critiques the assumptions these officials brought to their work (that Chinese ought to be excluded and could not be believed) and shows how these assumptions were institutionalized in·sti·tu·tion·al·ize
tr.v. in·sti·tu·tion·al·ized, in·sti·tu·tion·al·iz·ing, in·sti·tu·tion·al·iz·es
a. To make into, treat as, or give the character of an institution to.
b. in judgments about who was and wasn't a laborer or a merchant, a prostitute or a wife. The fourth chapter surveys the range of strategies Chinese immigrants developed to evade the laws, first trying to overturn them, and then using the government's own paper trail against itself, working the system by hiring lawyers, courting white allies, coaching each other through the detailed interrogations conducted by immigration officials, and trading tips on how to persuade immigrant inspectors that they were either merchants or native-born citizens, two groups that were supposed to be (but, as Lee shows, often were not) exempt from the exclusion laws.
The final, and most innovative, chapters focus on the development of illegal immigration. Because of Chinese exclusion laws, Chinese were targeted as the first "illegal" immigrants and were subjected to repeated attempts to crack down on illegal immigration, not only in the U.S., but also along the Canadian and Mexican borders. Rather than divide immigration officials and illegal immigrants into two separate camps, Lee argues that both groups "became locked in an interdependent and self-perpetuating cycle that created and maintained illegal immigration." (p. 148). Her fascinating analysis documents the transnational and cross-racial networks immigrants forged in order to evade U.S. laws by entering the U.S. through Canada or Mexico, often with assistance from greedy contractors who smuggled smug·gle
v. smug·gled, smug·gling, smug·gles
1. To import or export without paying lawful customs charges or duties.
2. To bring in or take out illicitly or by stealth. immigrants across both borders and from white immigration officials, many of whom found the many opportunities for corruption offered by the Chinese Exclusion laws too tempting to resist.
Lee's overarching argument is that Chinese exclusion transformed "the United States into a gatekeeping nation, in which immigration restriction--largely based on race and nationality--came to determine the very makeup of the nation and American national identity." (p. 6) In other words Adv. 1. in other words - otherwise stated; "in other words, we are broke"
put differently , she assigns Chinese exclusion laws the kind of significance historians have usually reserved for the immigration quotas of the 1920s or recent crackdowns on "illegal immigrants" from Mexico. In her desire to emphasize the unique and formative importance of Chinese exclusion, she sometimes overstates her case, as when she contrasts immigration officials' turn-of-the-century crackdowns on "illegal" Chinese immigrants to their supposedly "benign neglect benign neglect Decision-making A stance of nonintervention that a clinician may adopt in the face of lesions and clinical conditions which have an uncertain or stable clinical course. Cf Watchful waiting. " of Mexican immigrants in the same period. But these minor lapses are entirely overshadowed by Lee's achievement: At America's Gates is the strongest, best grounded, and most persuasive assessment of the long historical shadow Chinese exclusion has cast over the development of American immigration policy. It deserves a wide readership among historians of U.S. race, gender, immigration, and politics.
ENDNOTE See footnote.
1. Mae Ngai, "The Architecture of Race in American Immigration Law: A Reexamination re·ex·am·ine also re-ex·am·ine
tr.v. re·ex·am·ined, re·ex·am·in·ing, re·ex·am·ines
1. To examine again or anew; review.
2. Law To question (a witness) again after cross-examination. of the Immigration Act of 1924," Journal of American History The Journal of American History (sometimes abbreviated as JAH), is the official journal of the Organization of American Historians. It was first published in 1914 as the Mississippi Valley Historical Review 86 (June 1999): 67-92; Lucy Salyer, Laws Harsh as Tigers: Chinese Immigrants and the Shaping of Modern Immigration Law (Chapel Hill, 1997).
University of Oregon The University of Oregon is a public university located in Eugene, Oregon. The university was founded in 1876, graduating its first class two years later. The University of Oregon is one of 60 members of the Association of American Universities.