Immigration in the United States

Immigration policies in the United States have varied significantly over the nation’s history in terms of exclusion and inclusion determinants. Social, political, and economic forces have been most frequently cited as influential in these policy decisions. The question, then, is to what extent these domestic elements are influenced by international affairs. According to preliminary research, the early immigration policies, such as the Immigration Act of 1875, focused on lifestyles and incomes rather than on ethnicity or nation of origin. Notably, Asian populations were the exception to this rule, but the principle was that those who were perceived as a danger or burden would not be granted access to the nation.
The definitions of dangerous and burdensome, of course, have changed over time. Often these perceptions are determined by the political parties and media outlets who call for a more nativist approach to American security. Yet, another influence on these perceptions is the occurrence of war that press the American people to support policies that limit or prevent certain populations from seeking citizenship. However, periods of conflict and post-war conditions can also create a labor shortage that could impact the policies to ensure the economic sustainability of the nation.
To better understand these relationships, the proposed research will focus on immigration policies during the Great Depression, Cold War, and World War II as these periods represented economic challenges and uncertainty in the international affairs. Policies within each era will be assessed against the conditions and definitions located in both primary and secondary sources. From this line of inquiry, the research will address the following research question: How was immigration policy in the US different during or just after war/conflicts versus non-wartime period? Finally, current policy will be assessed against these definitions to identify challenges and opportunities for improvements.  

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Ewing, Walter A. Opportunity and Exclusion: A brief history of US immigration policy. Washington, DC: Immigration Policy Center, 2008.
Lee, Erika. “A part and apart: Asian American and immigration history.” Journal of American Ethnic History 34, no. 4 (2015): 28-42.
Mudde, Cas. “The relationship between immigration and nativism in Europe and North America.” Washington, DC (2012).
Vincent, Jonathan E. “Dangerous Subjects: US War Narrative, Modern Citizenship, and the Making of National Security, 1890-1964.” PhD diss., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2011.
Young, Julia G. “Making America 1920 again? Nativism and US immigration, past and present.” Journal on Migration and Human Security

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