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Impossible subjects : illegal aliens and the…
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Impossible subjects : illegal aliens and the making of modern America (edição 2004)

por Mae M. Ngai

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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.… (mais)
Membro:saptekar
Título:Impossible subjects : illegal aliens and the making of modern America
Autores:Mae M. Ngai
Informação:Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c2004.
Colecções:Work books, A sua biblioteca
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Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America por Mae M. Ngai

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The various ways in which the law constructed and racialized “illegality” over the course of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. A telling example: in the mid-twentieth century, noncitizens who’d committed minor crimes but had lived in the US for decades could sometimes get relief from deportation by exiting the US and reentering—but only on the Canadian border; the option was not made available to Mexicans. Ngai’s organizing conceit is that the law both made “illegality” inevitable and yet excluded unlawful migrants from the category of people with rights, thus producing an “impossible” subject. I never really got that; it is obviously not at all impossible to have a category of rightsless people subject to the will of the state. It’s just truly awful. ( )
  rivkat | Dec 19, 2019 |
In Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America, Maw M. Ngai “argues that illegal immigration is not anomalous but inherent to the regime of immigration restriction. Nor is it a side channel to the main stream of the nation’s history as a ‘nation of immigrants’” (pg. xxiv). Ngai organizes her book into four sections: the quota system and paper legality; immigration at the margins of law and nation; war, nationalism, and citizenship; and postwar immigration reform. Her subjects broadly alternate between Asian immigrants from Japan and China, with a section on the Philippines, and immigrants from Mexico. Further, Ngai employs a transnational approach, situating her work within recent borderlands scholarship.
In discussing restriction, Ngai writes, “Restriction not only marked a new regime in the nation’s immigration policy; [she] argue[s] that it was also deeply implicated in the development of twentieth-century American ideas and practices about citizenship, race, and the nation-state” (pg. 3). According to Ngai, the quota system “constructed a white American race, in which persons of European descent shared a common whiteness distinct from those deemed to be not white. In the construction of that whiteness, the legal boundaries of both white and nonwhite acquired sharper definition” (pg. 25). Discussing early twentieth century Americans’ fears over Filipino immigration, which they equated with a threat to job opportunities, Ngai writes, “The perception of widespread job competition was, in fact, fueled by longstanding racial animus towards Asiatics. The central element of this hostility was the ideology of white entitlement to the resources of the West” (pg. 109). Discussing migrant Mexican labor, Ngai “argues that immigration law and practices were central in shaping the modern political economy of the Southwest, one based on commercial agriculture, migratory farm labor, and the exclusion of Mexican migrants and Mexican Americans from the mainstream of American society” (pg. 128). Further, Ngai argues “that this transnational Mexican labor force, and especially its bracero and ‘wetback’ constituents, constituted a kind of ‘imported colonialism’ that was a legacy of the nineteenth-century American conquest of Mexico’s northern territories” (pg. 129). Ngai’s discussion of Japanese internment demonstrates the clash between the federal and state governments’ belief in immigrants’ duty to assimilate and Japanese-Americans’ desire to blend their culture with that of the United States (pg. 180). Their uncertain legal status further compounded this. While the United States relaxed its immigration restrictions on China during World War II, “Cold War politics and the sensationalized investigations against fraud reproduced racialized perceptions that all Chinese immigrants were illegal and dangerous. Confession legalized Chinese paper immigrants, but it did not necessarily bring them social legitimacy” (pg. 223). In her final section, Ngai argues “that the thinking that impelled immigration reform in the decades following World War II developed along a trajectory that combined liberal pluralism and nationalism” (pg. 230). She also examines the unforeseen consequences of those policies, such as the intellectual “brain drain” of the Third World.
Ngai draws upon the “intellectual and editorial interventions” of Gary Gerstle, author of American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century (pg. xvii). This links her to other historians, such as John Dower, who argued in War Without Mercy: Race & Power in the Pacific War, that World War II was a race war, and to Lawrence Goldstone’s Inherently Unequal: The Betrayal of Equal Rights by the Supreme Court, 1865-1903, which, like Ngai’s examples, examined the court cases that stripped non-white Americans of their rights or citizenship. ( )
  DarthDeverell | Mar 17, 2017 |
A meticulously researched, stylistically engaging account of the twentieth-century construction of the "illegal alien." Should be required reading for Congressmen and Californians. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
Insightful historical perspective on the issues of migration, politics, and second-class citizenship status. A must read for anyone seeking to understand immigration laws, policies, and the reasons for hostility towards migrants. ( )
  mariposabooks | Oct 9, 2012 |
Excellent work examining immigration law and how it shapes and is shaped by American national self-image. She starts with attempts to limit immigration of non-whites through census manipulation, before examining specific reactions to substantial Mexican and Filipino immigration. Ngai effectively demonstrates how US racism and economic motivations dominated immigration law. She also demonstrates its inherent irrationality, particularly in looking at all the unintended consequences of immigration restriction. An excellent read for anyone who is interested in the development of immigration law and its relationship to national politics. ( )
  Scapegoats | Oct 20, 2007 |
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The Johnson-Reed Immigration Act of 1954 marked both the end of one era, that of open immigration from Europe, and the beginning of a new one, the era of immigration restriction.
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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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