1924 Immigration Act: The New & Improved White America


Although eugenics was alive and well in American society in the early 1900’s, it wasn’t until 1924 that it could be called official policy of the United States. Immigration reform in 1924 was the permanent plan to shape the American population into a white capitalist utopia. For the next two decades, eugenics would be the law of the land.

May 26, 1924, immigration reform was enacted with the purpose of establishing a system of quotas to determine the number of immigrants that would be allowed entry into the United States. This new law was called “An act to limit the immigration of aliens into the United States, and for other purposes” (the gringa suspects they chose the wording “other purposes” rather than “weeding out the undesirables through the practice of eugenics”). The law was commonly known as The Johnson-Reed Act. The quota formula used census totals of each ethnicity and allowed two percent of each total to immigrate, except, of course, for the Asian immigrants who were still prohibited. Filipinos were granted immigration status because their land was U.S. territory. Japanese were allowed entry but their nation was cooperating with America in restrictive immigration policies. However, this new law would contain a statute to legally restrict Japanese immigration.

The political campaigns of California Senator James D. Phelan and California’s Attorney General, Ulysses S. Webb, were supported by the lobbying efforts of V.S. McClatchy, publisher of The Sacramento Bee. McClatchy claimed the Japanese did not assimilate to American culture and their “astronomical birth rate” was a cultural threat. As Japanese property ownership increased, the envy of the white majority caused them to consider the Japanese a menace. The gringa would have wagged her finger at these Americans who should have respected the work ethic of the Japanese which enabled them to prosper. The gringa has always been under the impression that was what “real” Americanism was all about. McClatchy stated that the Japanese “make more dangerous competitors in an economic way”. The gringa stands corrected. Racism inspired by greed was the “real” Americanism of 1924, keep the money and the power in the hands of the white majority.

In response to the American population’s racist attitudes toward the Japanese, a provision was then included within the Act to prevent entry into the country by any alien who was ineligible for citizenship. This meant a total ban for Japanese who, according to the Gentleman’s Agreement of 1907, could immigrate for purposes of work but were prohibited from naturalization. Despite Japan’s protest that this violated the 1907 agreement, the stipulation remained. Promoting eugenics was more important than a good relationship with the country of Japan. Japan, viewing the legislation as an insult, commemorated the day of May 26, 1924 as a national day of humiliation. Japanese passions were so incensed, a Japanese man publicly committed suicide outside the American embassy in Tokyo. This resentment would eventually grow and create the tensions that ultimately resulted in Japan becoming an enemy to the U.S. and engaging in an act of war, the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Once again the gringa has a new perspective on an important event in U.S. history. The educational propaganda of my youth never taught me this lead up to the Pearl Harbor event. The propaganda I was taught in history class was always the drill that we were the good guys, they were the bad guys. To be a good little patriot, the textbooks at my school were full of examples proving that the good ol’ U.S.A. was founded by people persecuted for their religious beliefs and created a nation that would be open to all and where all could be equal. Where were all the other historical facts? You know, like the ones I found when researching this article? The gringa can only cock her head, squint her eyes and point her finger at D.C. and say, “Japan was demonized for this attack yet it could have been prevented if the U.S. hadn’t been greedy racists who befriended them for profit, then stabbed them in the back for racism and profit, thus making an enemy of them.”

In 1921 the Emergency Quota Act had determined the ratio of quotas to be three percent of ethnic group census totals. The 1924 legislation would further restrict immigration by lowering this ratio to two percent of ethnic group census totals. In 1924, the American people demanded even fewer immigrants. In order to further squeeze the numbers, the new act established the use of census totals from 1890 rather than 1910. Also, rather than just tally the totals for ethnicities of foreign born people, the entire population of the U.S. was used. This resulted in a large, ethnically British group. These new methods served two purposes: (a) to increase the immigration potential for the British, as well as Northern and Western Europe while (b.) diminishing the immigration potential for Southern and Eastern Europe. This is yet another deliberate attempt at eugenics through immigration controls.

Northern Europe is represented by the countries of Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Northern Ireland, Norway, Scotland, Sweden, United Kingdom, and Wales. The countries of Western Europe are Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, and Switzerland. Eastern Europe is comprised of Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia Federation, Slovakia, and Ukraine. The countries of Southern Europe are Albania, Andorra, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Greece, Italy, Macedonia, Malta, Montenegro, Portugal, San Marino, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey. It’s easy to see the line in the sand between white Europeans and Slavic/Mediterranean Europeans.

If anyone doubt’s the racist agenda behind this act, pay attention to the words of Detroit’s Republican Congressman Robert H. Clancy who, when debating the Act in Congress, defended Jews, Italians and Polish as Americans and described the bill as racially discriminate. He said, “…today it is the Italians, Spanish, Poles, Jews, Greeks, Russians, Balkanians, and so forth, who are the racial lepers… In this bill we find racial discrimination at its worst… so that a blow may be aimed at peoples of eastern and southern Europe, particularly at our recent allies in the Great War – Poland and Italy… Much of the animus against Poland and Russia, old and new… is directed against the Jew… We have many American citizens of Jewish descent… active in every profession… particularly active in charities… One of our greatest judges, if not the greatest, is a Jew. Surely no fair-minded person with a knowledge of the facts can say the Jews… are a menace… Italian-Americans… are found in all walks… of life… and make themselves good citizens… They do the hard work that the native-born American dislikes. Rapidly they rise in life…” He went on to explain that despite the fact that Italians only made up about four percent of the U.S. population, they comprised ten percent of our fighting force in World War I. Yet our country, because of racism, demonstrated no pride or loyalty toward this patriotic ethnic group within our nation. Clancy added, “… tens of thousands of Polish-Americans living in my district… are essentially home builders,… They learn the English language as quickly as possible… they become assimilated and adopt our institutions… in the World War the proportion of… volunteers of Polish blood was greater than the proportion of Americans of any other racial descent… they are at least entitled to justice… My mother’s father fought in the Civil War… to fight against racial distinctions and protect his country… I cannot stultify myself by voting for the present bill and overwhelm my country with racial hatreds and racial lines…”

Unfortunately when it comes to racial superiority, America has no sense of loyalty to any darker skinned nation that may have stood by us, strongly, in a time of trouble. To comprehend the direct results of this legislation, take a look at the numbers: from 1900-1910, about 200,000 Italians immigrated to the U.S. annually. The quota determined by the 1924 law resulted in less than 4,000 Italians entering annually yet over 34,000 could emigrate from Great Britain, although actual numbers put the average number of British immigrants at about 50,000 annually. Germans increased to an average 45,000 immigrants annually. From 1880-1924 about two million Jews entered, which translates to an average of 143,000 annually. One year after the passage of this law, only 10,000 Jews entered the country. Because of this legislation millions of Jews from France, Poland and Germany were denied visas and died at the hands of the Nazis. The country’s restrictive policy allowed only a few thousand of the highest educated into the country. Despite U.S. propaganda depicting itself as the friend of the Jews, the nation actually left these people to their fate in their enemy’s hands. The Americanism of 1924 was one of white supremacy and the opinion that foreigners threatened jobs and wages.

The obvious goal of American legislators was to continue to strengthen the Caucasian population and limit other ethnic groups. This would be the country’s immigration policy until the 1960’s and it stank to high heaven of eugenics. If the dear reader doubt’s the eugenics angle, let us then explore the interest groups representing eugenics who used biological arguments to promote immigration reform that favored Caucasian ethnic groups and restricted other ethnicities.

As early as 1914 the Surgeon General’s office was staffed with officers who were active members of eugenic groups and were responsible for the medical inspections of immigrants entering the country. Harry Laughlin, director of the Eugenics Record office, conducted a research program to determine ethnic origins for “hereditary defectives” that populated America’s prisons, mental hospitals and charity homes. This research was performed at the request of a political interest group, the Immigration Restriction League. The findings of this research were used to create the legal definition used by Congress to categorize “idiots, imbeciles, feeble-minded persons, epileptics, insane persons… persons of constitutional psychopathic inferiority… and mentally or physically defective…” people as those who were “likely to become a public charge” and therefore denied entry into America.

In 1920, Laughlin’s eugenics study was used by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Immigration and Naturalization to argue that the gene pool of America was being contaminated with immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe who were defective on intellectual and moral grounds. The restrictive immigration act of 1924 is a direct result of Laughlin’s eugenics research convincing Congress to reduce the number of “inadequate” ethnicities from entering the United States. Ultimately, eugenics wanted to halt altogether the immigration of Italians and Eastern European Jews. The motto coined by President Calvin Coolidge at the signing of the bill, that continued to be echoed throughout the white majority American population was, “America must remain American.” So, that meant, white.

The Jews were unacceptable because of their religion. The Italians were also unacceptable because of Catholicism. But what about those Eastern Europeans? Well, the gringa blames the Red Scare, which occurred during 1919 and 1920, for creating a nationwide fear and distrust aimed at these ethnicities. The civil liberties of these groups of people were abused as Americans feared something similar to the Bolshevik Revolution might occur on U.S. soil because of subversive activities of dissidents, communists and socialists. This resulted in an expression of passionate patriotism by the American people.

The U.S. propaganda machine, under the direction of George Creel, as head of the U.S. Committee on Public Information, used art, advertising and motion pictures to indoctrinate the masses and encourage Americans to report persons who spoke out against the war and in favor of peace. Americans were denied their liberty under the guise of patriotic protection of liberty. Sound familiar? The hypocrisy is obvious now, yet, caught up in the fervor, Americans were ignorant that the very liberty they thought they were protecting they were actually denying to others simply because they expressed a different opinion, philosophy or belief. Sounds a lot like what goes on today when peace proponents criticize the warmongers in D.C. and the “patriots” accuse them of being un-patriotic.

During World War I, the U.S. discovered that war was profitable for the nation. The country had no complaints about all those hard-working immigrants during the fat years. The wartime economy of America had almost nine million Americans employed in war related jobs and about another four million serving in the military. When the war ended, vast unemployment created economic trouble and worker unrest. And, guess who got blamed for all of that trouble? Yep, you guessed it, true to the pattern of the past, the immigrants who were “more different” than the eugenics ideal Caucasian American were to blame.

A socialist group in northwest America created a union which held a strike in 1919. Although no violence occurred, the workers were charged with attempting to incite a revolution. Seattle, where this occurred, became the rally point for nationalist propaganda. Subsequent worker strikes around the country were considered crimes and conspiracies against society and the government. Workers who involved themselves in union activities became more and more persecuted. Despite this, workers continued to unite across the country, demanding better pay and working conditions, such as Boston’s police force and the entire country’s steel industry. Many colleges were considered to be fertile ground for such communist and socialist radicals.

As a result of all of this unrest, in the spring of 1919 the American Legion was created. Their pamphlets declared their mission was to “to foster and perpetuate a one hundred per cent Americanism.” The question I ask is, “Who is defining what ‘one hundred per cent Americanism’ is?”  The Legion’s “patriotic” purpose in action was vigilante justice meted out to suspected “Red” radicals. Their notoriety was so great the phrase was coined, “Leave the Reds to the Legion”. Today’s American Legion posts holding their bingo nights and dances where they serve up gallons of beer to its members was headquarters to the very types of racist oppression we see modeled in KKK activities in the 50’s and 60’s, it was just a different ethnic group that was targeted.

The summer of 1919 delivered to America the General Intelligence Division of Bureau of Investigations with the Justice Department appointing J. Edgar Hoover as its leader. Hoover was to uncover Bolshevik plots and detain or deport all involved conspirators. Civil liberties was the price the nation paid as the nation ignored its own Constitution that guaranteed all equal liberty and protection to all. Freedom of speech, the legal right of all on American soil since December 15, 1791, was all but forgotten if your speech disagreed with what was defined as “American”.

So, what happened to finally soothe this nationalist fervor against people who just didn’t quite fit in and had strange political ideas? Newspapers started feeling the pain in the pocket book when anti-sedition policies interfered with their sensational, headlining stories that sold lots of newspapers. Big industry began feeling the pain in their wallets as well when they realized much of their cheap labor was either in jail or on a boat back home. Racist America began realizing they had shot themselves in their own foot with their bigoted behavior. They decided it was time to behave so the good times could continue to roll. The tables turned and the Americans who had gone after the “Commies” with a rabid vengeance now turned on the “Commie” hunters. Once again we see that true “Americanism” is about pure capitalism with loyalty to no idea or person. Loyalty is solely to the almighty dollar and how to earn another one.

Once patriotic passions had calmed, legislators created the Emergency Quota Act of 1921 as a temporary measure to stem the tide of the immigrants who were considered to be the instigators of all the social trouble of 1919 and 1920. The Immigration Act of 1924 was to be the permanent solution. Purposely left off of the quota list were the Latin ethnicities who were immigrating through Mexico and provided much of the nation’s cheap farm labor. These people would become the new class of cheap imported labor to replace the troublemakers from Southern and Eastern Europe. Specific wording of the legislation defined “non quota immigrants” as originating from Canada, Newfoundland, Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, The Dominican Republic, peoples from the Panama Canal Zone, and Central and South America.

Inspired by the trend of eugenics, it is easy to see the philosophy of Madison Grant as instrumental in the expected goal of this legislation. In his book “The Passing of the Great Race”, penned in 1916, he teaches that eastern Europeans were physically and mentally substandard to Protestant society that descended from northern and western Europeans. He proposed that population controls must be put into place in order to protect the quality of life of current society. The legislation of 1924, specifically the immigration reform that was contained in that pile of paperwork, was the culmination of eugenics. For the next twenty years the population of America would be groomed to be populated by a majority of people of British, and Western and Northern European ancestry. That was the Americanism of 1924, the nation wanted a new and improved white America.

Sources:

https://history.state.gov/milestones/1921-1936/immigration-act

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/coolidge-signs-stringent-immigration-law

http://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/europe.htm

http://www.eugenicsarchive.org/html/eugenics/essay9text.html

http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5078/

http://immigrationinamerica.org/590-immigration-act-of-1924.html

http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/SaccoV/redscare.html

http://newsmine.org/content.php?ol=coldwar-imperialism/hoover-red-scare-1919/hoover-red-scare-1919-ch1.txt

http://www.upa.pdx.edu/IMS/currentprojects/TAHv3/Content/PDFs/Immigration_Act_1924.pdf

http://encyclopedia.densho.org/Immigration_Act_of_1924/

Photo credit: www.hsl.virginia.edu

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Married Women’s Act of 1922


For the most part, up until the year 1922 in American history, women were rarely mentioned in immigration legislation, except for the Act of 1875. That year Congress dealt with the Chinese prostitution issue.  United States culture of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries considered women under the identity of their husband. It was presumed that any woman would eventually marry and her identity would be tied to her husband. The result of this attitude was a 1907 immigration law requiring women assume the nationality and citizenship status of their husbands upon marriage. This meant that even women born on U.S. soil who married a non-U.S. citizen lost their United States citizenship status. If her husband’s country of origin was involved in a war with the U.S., she may be considered an “enemy alien” and stripped of property and her employment. This happened to scores of women who were married to German and Italian born men when the country entered World War I. Around $25 million in property nationwide was confiscated by the U.S. Although women may not have felt this was fair and desired to have control of their own identity, there wasn’t anything they could do about it until the law changed.

Most immigrant women were discriminated against because the courts would usually not naturalize an alien woman who was married to a foreign born husband. The husband had to become naturalized and then some courts would automatically classify his wife as naturalized as well as any children between them. A woman’s identity was her husband. This also worked the other way around. If a female U.S. citizen married a man who was not a U.S. citizen, his status became her status. In 1907 the Expatriation Act stripped female U.S. citizens of their status if they married foreign born men. The spirit of this law was racism as reflected in the words of Iowa’s Republican Representative Nathan Kendall who stated, “We do not want our girls to marry foreigners.”

There were some legally savvy women who managed to circumvent this technicality and also obtain their own personal property by way of the Homestead Act, thus maintaining their legal status of U.S. citizen even though they married a foreign born husband. However, not every woman was successful choosing this route. The reality for women in the early history of America was that society discriminated against women in general, and even more harshly discriminated against white women who married another race. If the gringa had faced this national attitude after meeting her Peruvian caveman, she would have gladly traded her country for her man.

Prior to 1907, there was no specific legal language written into immigration laws regarding women. Immigrating women then could only hope in their case being handled by a sympathetic court because each court applied their own interpretation of current immigration laws. From 1790 until 1802 immigration laws specified “free white persons” as having the right to the naturalization process without gender determination. It was the social practice of that time to interpret “persons” as being male and this male represented the females of his household. The only women specifically mentioned by immigration laws were the widows of men who had qualified and applied for citizenship but died before the process was complete or foreign born women who became citizens when they married American men.

On August 18, 1920, the power of the women’s suffrage movement resulted in the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which gave women the right to vote. It is no coincidence that within two years of this event politicians realized they were going to have to listen to the voices of half the country’s constituents. The Married Women’s Act of 1922 (also known as the Cable Act, the Married Women’s Independent Citizenship Act or the Married Women’s Independent Nationality Act) is the second monument to the empowerment of women of that generation. Section three stated, “That a woman citizen of the United States shall not cease to be a citizen of the United States by reason of her marriage after the passage of this Act, unless she makes a formal renunciation of her citizenship.” A woman who had lost her citizenship status from 1907 until 1922, because of marriage to a foreign man, could apply for naturalization. The only exception was if they married a man who was ineligible for American citizenship because of his race, such as Chinese, Japanese, or Filipino. However, nine years later, on March 3, 1931, an amendment allowed these women to finally maintain their U.S. citizenship status. At last, women were a recognized class of American citizens in their own right.

Prior to 1920, a woman’s citizenship status was not considered important because they could not vote and any property they owned became their husband’s. This was the legal practice of “coverture”, a British legal principle imported with the founding fathers. The Nineteenth Amendment changed that. In order to vote, a woman had to be a citizen. It was now more important than ever that a woman retain her individual identity no matter who she chose to marry. Legislators who wanted or needed the female vote were going to have to respond with legislation to protect the citizenship status of their electorate. Again, we see immigration reform motivated not by the minds of lawmakers opening and maturing with a new-found respect for a woman’s right to be treated equal but rather by the desire to maintain power by pandering to a class of people who will respond to their actions favorably and give them their votes. So, in 1922 legislators gave this newly empowered voting class what they wanted. A woman’s nationality was her own with naturalization terms equal to that of men.

The United States had come a long way from the society of our founding fathers. The dreams of the wives of those founding fathers had finally come true. In 1876, in a letter Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, President John Adams, she stated, “I cannot say that I think you are very generous to the ladies; for, whilst you are proclaiming peace and good-will to men, emancipating all nations, you insist upon retaining an absolute power over wives.” Even earlier than Abigail Adam’s letter, in 1790, Judith Sargent Murray, an American poet and advocate for women’s rights, wrote “men generate inequality and formulate rules of society for their own benefit with no regard for women’s needs”. Once again the true history of the United States reveals a nation originally designed to be a male dominated, capitalist society, preserving the racial superiority of the white majority and serving national and international economic and political interests rather than the needs of the women and non-white races within the country. None of this surprises the gringa.

 

Sources:

http://immigrationinamerica.org/397-cable-act-of-1922.html

http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/1998/summer/women-and-naturalization-1.html

http://www.ndhs.org/s/1012/images/editor_documents/library/issues_and_controversies_in_american_history_-_cable_act__1922_.pdf

http://www.history.com/topics/womens-history/19th-amendment

https://www.academia.edu/1508503/Married_Women_s_Citizenship_in_the_United_States_for_a_Century_and_a_Half_An_Overview

 

Photo credit:

www.thephonograph.co.uk

Emergency Quota Act of 1921 And The Spirit of Eugenics


Immigration policies of 1921 depict a government using legislation to design a population. New immigration laws were created to control the flow of immigrants into the United States according to ethnic and education classes. Laws of 1917 were to weed out undesirable classes of immigrants that had certain mental and physical health problems as well as prevent poor people from entering the U.S. In 1907 the country slammed the door on the Japanese. 1888 was the year the Chinese were rejected. 1875 established that America’s home-grown hookers were acceptable but Chinese hookers were not. Does the dear reader see a pattern emerging or is the gringa guilty of paranoid conspiracy theory syndrome?

1921 was just more of the same as far as America’s national racist agenda. If the country had not yet been clear enough that only upper class white immigrants were the preferred class of immigrants, legislators decided to pass one more Act just to make sure the rest of the world heard us loud and clear. The first thing they did was place limits on the number of people that could immigrate. True to form, our nation’s bureaucrats adopted a complicated formula of basing immigration numbers to three percent of the number of foreign born people, designated by ethnicity, according to the 1910 census. In other words, all counted immigrants would be classified by country of birth, then tallied to come up with totals of how many immigrants of each nationality were present in the U.S. This total would be used to determine the three percent who would be allowed in for the year. For example, if there were 100 German immigrants on the 1910 census, only three new German immigrants would be allowed entry. In 1921, America added controls and limits on European immigration to their dirty laundry list of discriminatory acts.

The wording of the legislation seemed to be an honest attempt to sound unbiased and fair since it’s all based on the numbers, right? WRONG! Have my dear readers not learned anything since I’ve been blogging about all this immigration mess from the beginning of the nation’s origin? Haven’t we discovered along this journey that every immigration law passed in the United States has thus far been motivated by greed and racism? Has it not been revealed that American bureaucrats are master propagandists determined to convince the world of the humanitarian spirit of the nation when the real truth is that the U.S. is a nation designed to be a capitalist utopia? Why in the world, then, would anyone be fool enough to think that suddenly, in 1921, immigration laws would be passed that would actually be fair and show no preference for one ethnicity over another?

First of all, the act provided exceptions for immigrants who were artists, performing artists, professionals, or religious leaders. These types of people were always acceptable no matter what their skin color or language barrier. With regard to how the details were actually applied and worked out, a thorough study of the end result numbers makes it clear that masters of deception were at work skewing the numbers in favor of certain ethnicities. When you get right down to the nitty gritty, bottom line, immigration figures actually reflect that the Act had little impact on the number of immigrants allowed into the country who originated from northern and western Europe. There were no limitations placed on immigrants from the Western Hemisphere. It was the “other” people that Americans were worried about.

This Act was right on the heels of the close of World War I. After the first Great War, practically all of Europe wanted to start over in the New World. Americans were afraid of the country being flooded with undesirable classes of people. This racist pressure motivated U.S. lawmakers to use this seemingly “fair” legislation to discriminate in order to prevent an influx of immigrants who would not properly assimilate into white American culture. Preferred ethnicities originated in western and northern Europe. Southern and eastern Europe were home to the “undesirables” such as the Polish, Greeks and Italians.

Ethnicity and culture was not the only consideration America had on their minds. At this time the United States didn’t need to import cheap labor any longer because the country now enjoyed a steady supply via Canada and Mexico. The nation didn’t want new working class people showing up and possibly causing a drop in wages for the existing working class. When immigration law was actually applied, professionals enjoyed fewer restrictions while working class people found it harder to gain entry to the country.

As I read through the Act, the word “eugenics” kept popping up in my mind. Although limited by a lack of technology in 1921, the spirit and philosophy of eugenics was alive and well in U.S. politics. If eugenics endeavors to improve humans by controlling reproduction in order to weed out undesirable inherited characteristics, America sought to do this through immigration control. That was the spirit of 1921 America. Has the white majority really advanced much further in its social tolerance of today? To be on the safe side, this poor, working class, epileptic gringa chooses to stay where such prejudice doesn’t exist, in the warm, accepting arms of la gente de mi barrio.

Sources:

http://library.uwb.edu/guides/usimmigration/1921_emergency_quota_law.html

http://immigrationinamerica.org/589-immigration-act-of-1921.html

http://northamericanimmigration.org/95-emergency-quota-act-united-states-1921.html

Photo credits:  www.in.gov

1917: The Year I Would Have Been Banned From The U.S.


Chapter 29 of the Second Session of the Sixty-Fourth Congress of the United States of America, February 5, 1917, passed “An Act To regulate the immigration of aliens to, and the residence of aliens in, the United States” (also called the “Asian Barred Zone” if you want to do some research yourself). If I had been alive and not a U.S. citizen at the time this legislation took effect, I would have been among the immigrant hopefuls who would have been banned from entry. I would have been a “defective” person on the “prohibited” list, an “undesirable”.  That’s what this piece of law was all about. The United States was expanding its category of people to discriminate against. Rather than list all the legal rigmarole that are the basic nuts and bolts of the wherefores and heretofores, the gringa will get to the heart of the matter. I will focus on the sections that express the minds and wills of the white majority of the United States in 1917.

Section one defines the term “alien” as any person not a native-born or naturalized citizen of the U.S., but specifically excludes the Native Americans of North America and the Native Islanders of U.S. territories. At this time the Philippine Islands and Hawaii were U.S. territories. Once the term alien was defined, the U.S. could then make it clear who was, and who was not, invited to the party. The following were to be banned from entry into the United States:

  • Idiots (good thing all those legislators got here before 1917)
  • Imbeciles
  • Feeble-minded
  • Epileptics (that would be me)
  • Insane persons
  • Anyone who had a single attack of insanity at any point in their life (that rules out pretty much everyone I know here in the barrio where shit gets real from time to time)
  • Persons with a “constitutional psychopathic inferiority” (At first I thought that must mean psychopaths, until I looked up the definition of those words according to that time period. “Constitutional” means a condition you are born with. “Psychopathic” means regarding the realm of the mind or emotions. “Inferiority” means sub-standard in function, adaptability and self-progress. So, persons who were born with a mind, or set of emotions, that was below average were prohibited.)
  • Alcoholics
  • Paupers
  • Professional beggars
  • Vagrants
  • Persons sick with a contagious disease
  • Persons with a mental or physical defect that would affect the ability to earn a living
  • Convicted felons of moral crimes
  • Polygamists (again, the Mormons)
  • Anarchists
  • Prostitutes
  • Contract laborers
  • Persons likely to become a public charge
  • Persons who had their passage paid for by another party
  • Stowaways
  • Unaccompanied minors
  • Asians not originating from a U.S. territory
  • Prior deported persons
  • Illiterates, unless returning residents or immigrating to escape religious persecution

The classifications of some of these people, such as, idiots, imbeciles, beggars, epileptics, feeble-minded, physically defective, etc., became the basis for a following trend in American municipalities to pass what were commonly called “ugly laws”. Not only did the white majority in America want a “white” America, they also wanted a “pretty to look at” America. It remains ironic that these same classes of people who were prohibited from entering the country would often pass by the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor, an icon of hope, bearing a plaque which read:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

What a big, fat, American lie. And America’s been lying to everyone since the day the Puritans first set foot on the shores of Plymouth. The immigrants here in my barrio, however, are nobody’s fools. What I find incredibly interesting is that most of my immigrant neighbors are better educated on the true history of America than most native born Americans. Where they got a stiff dose of startling truth in mandatory world studies of their country of origin’s education systems, we native Americans get brainwashed with the propaganda machine our country created to make us good little American boys and girls, isolated from the rest of the world, and puffed up with a sense of superiority. Being a gringa in the barrio is a humbling experience. Especially when I realize that many of my immigrant neighbors were not on my country’s reject list like I, myself, would have been.

Sources:

http://library.uwb.edu/guides/usimmigration/39%20stat%20874.pdf

http://scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2850&context=jclc

https://books.google.com/books?id=pXW69O5po3AC&pg=PA165&lpg#v=onepage&q&f=false

Photo credit:  en.wikisource.org

Gentlemen’s Agreement of 1907 – Proof Of U.S. Insanity?


As I researched materials for this week’s blog about the next chapter in United States immigration policies, the gringa found it difficult not to burst out in sarcastic laughter at the audacity of American legislators to entitle a piece of racist immigration policy a “Gentlemen’s Agreement”. I don’t find anything at all “gentlemanly” about the racism that permeated white American society toward the Japanese. The country had already kicked out the Chinese. I suppose it was only logical that the Japanese would soon be getting their eviction notices as well.

Although Theodore Roosevelt is generally thought of with affection and romanticized as a rough and tumble “man’s man” in our nation’s presidential histories, the truth is, he was just another racist president in a long line of racist presidents. Although we can thank him for our wonderful national parks system and for creating the Food and Drug Administration, I give him a big “up yours” for the Gentlemen’s Agreement of 1907. A “real” man would have stood up for what was right, which would have been to tell the bratty, white Americans to behave themselves, quit their temper tantrum throwing, be accountable for their own plight rather than play the blame-game and point fingers at the Japanese, treat their fellow human beings with dignity and respect regardless of race and skin color and to hell with re-election popularity for the party. I mean, in the barrio that’s how we mamacitas roll.

The years preceding this agreement the United States experienced a labor shortage. Probably because of their short-sighted, emotional, racist actions that resulted in expelling and banning Chinese immigrants whom they had originally imported for cheap labor. The solution to this new labor shortage was to import a new group of cheap labor. The United States turned to Japan. In 1895 the Anglo-Japanese Treaty was ratified by both nations and provided the framework for open immigration between the nations, as well as equal rights of residency and property ownership for immigrants of either nation. Japan became the new favored nation for the U.S., and we all know how well that turned out for China just twenty years earlier.

When Japanese immigration subsequently increased, California once again led the charge of social hostility toward a particular ethnic working class group. After San Francisco’s memorable earthquake of 1906, schools had to be rebuilt. Taking advantage of this opportunity, the racists of California that had revived their hatred of the Chinese and redirected it toward the Japanese, supported the decision by the San Francisco school board to segregate schools according to a specific Japanese/Caucasian line just as they had already done with the Chinese.

Such discriminatory actions struck a nerve when word traveled back to Japan. President Teddy made an effort to smooth things over with Japan. Now, don’t jump to any conclusions about President Roosevelt actually caring about the feelings of the Japanese. His desire for friendly relations with the Japanese had nothing to do with any form of admiration for their culture. The U.S., as usual, had only one interest, securing power and wealth for the nation.

At this time in history, the biggest threat to power and wealth for the United States was Russia. From 1850 until 1910 Russia was second only to America in population growth. After the terrible insult the United States had given the Chinese, China established broad and extensive trade relations with Russia. Russia was even allowed to build a naval base and sea port in the city of Vladivostok. Before the Treaty of Peking in 1860, the city of Vladivostok had been Chinese territory and was called Hǎishēnwǎi, which, translated, meant “Sea Cucumber Cliffs”. Things were warm and fuzzy between the Chinese and Russia in 1907. Understanding the true history behind the relationship of this political love triangle, I now am not so naïve as I once was when my nation’s propaganda machine goes into high gear depicting Russia and China’s alliance as a great threat to our nation. The gringa can only cock her head, squint her eyes, poke her finger at the White House, and say, “You started this big mess with your two-faced, racist, back-stabbing, behavior toward the Chinese!”

By 1907 Russia’s expansionist policies were evident to the rest of the world. It had also set its sights on Japan. Russia’s ally, China, had been engaged in hostilities with Japan for some time. In 1895 Japan achieved an important victory that led to Russia getting involved in the conflict. Ultimately President Roosevelt would negotiate mediation between all factions. The important result of all this and how it affected political consideration of the Japanese in the United States, is that the U.S. government recognized the strategic naval position Japan commanded in its geographical orientation with regard to China and Russia. America would be wise to have Japan as a friend. Strategic military interest, rather than racial respect, was Teddy’s motivation to smooth over Japan’s ruffled feathers at the nasty treatment Japanese immigrants were receiving at the hands of white America.

The result was direct intervention by President Roosevelt into the San Francisco school segregation actions. Promised by the President that he was going to deal with the Japanese issue, the San Francisco school board rescinded its segregation order. Soon after, the country saw this presidential promise fulfilled in the acceptance of the Gentlemen’s Agreement. This was not legislation but an informal agreement between the U.S. and Japan based on an exchange of diplomatic letters.

Despite the fact that no official record of the agreements was ever published, a wealth of historical evidence can still be found about how things changed in America for the Japanese that were here. In response to Roosevelt’s intervention of discrimination against Japanese on U.S. soil, Japan agreed to no longer issue passports to Japanese laborers who intended to seek work in the United States. Only Japanese professionals and Japanese business men could immigrate to the U.S. Japanese laborers already present in the U.S. would still be able to bring over their families, but single Japanese laborers that were here would not be able to look forward to new arrivals of lovely, single ladies from back home. However, one “loophole” in this agreement was that Hawaii, being a U.S. territory, could still accept Japanese labor immigrants. This resulted in the “picture bride” system of Japanese laborers in the U.S. getting a mail-order bride via Hawaii. Despite the best attempt of the Gentlemen’s Agreement to thin out the Japanese population in America, Japanese families still continued to grow and thrive. Hey, a guy’s gotta do what a guy’s gotta do because everybody deserves a little lovin’ when they get home from a hard day’s work. At least that’s how my caveman feels.

As the gringa reads the historical documents recording this sad tale, the most disturbing aspect of it all, aside from the obvious, the racism, is the fact that the nation was repeating the events of just twenty years prior. I am reminded of the tongue in cheek definition of insanity, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Again, the gringa can only cock her head, squint her eyes, poke her finger at the White House and say, “What the hell were you thinking? Are you insane? Did you really think you could do the exact same thing that you did with China and it would somehow end better?”

Once again the United States has proven that it’s immigration policies are determined by greed and power. Borders are opened to an unsuspecting nation who is wooed like a predator stalking an unsuspecting victim. Cheap labor is imported. The country grows fat. The new immigrants start to get too big for their britches. The Caucasian hordes cry foul. The politicians want to secure re-election so they “burn the witch” as the angry masses demand. The only advice I can give any immigrant is, “Immigrant! Beware!”

Sources:

http://www.history.com/topics/gentlemens-agreement

http://www.americanforeignrelations.com/E-N/Extraterritoriality-Japan.html

http://countrystudies.us/russia/6.htm

http://www.britannica.com/event/Treaty-of-Peking

http://ir.library.osaka-u.ac.jp/dspace/bitstream/11094/9499/1/oulr056-001.pdf

http://www.britannica.com/event/Gentlemens-Agreement

http://immigrationinamerica.org/516-gentlemens-agreement.html

http://aapcgroup11.blogspot.com/2009/12/gentlemens-agreement-of-1907.html

http://encyclopedia.densho.org/Gentlemen’s_Agreement/

https://diva.sfsu.edu/collections/ga1907

Photo credit:  www.dneiwert.blogspot.com

Naturalization Act 1906: U.S. Citizenship – Only Whites Need Apply


1906 was the next year Americans saw big changes in immigration reform. Many people refer to this period of American history as “progressive” and/or “industrial”. I suppose both are true, depending on how you define them. As a social movement, progressives at this time believed government could be used as a tool to fix what was wrong with society. The policies of President Theodore Roosevelt reflected this ideology. Many of the ills facing society were a result of industrialization, such as: child labor, corporate greed, unsanitary and unsafe conditions in the workplace. One of the many pieces of legislation the Roosevelt administration delivered to the American people was the Naturalization Act of 1906, approved June 29, 1906. Its title indicates specifically the purpose of the laws contained within the pages that follow, the establishment of a government agency of immigration and naturalization with uniformity in how immigrants are received and naturalized.

  • Sec. 1 – Authorizes the new name for the agency, “Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization”. Designates the Secretary of Commerce and Labor as controlling director. Upon entry into the U.S. all aliens are to register and the immigrant will receive a certificate of registry.
  • Sec. 2 – According to budget appropriations, the Secretary of Commerce and Labor is authorized to provide for the Bureau necessary office space, staff and supplies.
  • Sec. 3 – Court jurisdictions are designated and will be furnished with necessary forms by the Bureau.
  • Sec. 4 – Conditions for citizenship are stipulated:
  1. Declaration on oath before clerk of court that, at least two years prior, and after reaching the age of eighteen years, it was his “bona fide” intention to become a citizen of the United States. Any allegiance to any foreign power is renounced forever, and such power is specifically named.
  2. Within a 2-7 year time window after the declaration is made, the immigrant must file a petition in his own handwriting stating his full name and address, occupation, birth place and date, place of origin of immigration, arrival location within the U.S., name of port and vessel he arrived in, time and place and name of court of declaration, and, if married, name of wife and any children. He must deny he is an anarchist and polygamist (the polygamy inclusion probably had to do with sentiments towards Mormons who were believed to be infidels and disloyal to the country because of their practice of polygamy). He must state his intention to become a U.S. citizen and renounce forever any allegiance to any other foreign power. He must reveal any denial for citizenship rendered by any U.S. court and on what grounds and prove if such denial has been resolved and removed. Two U.S. citizens, acting as credible witnesses, must provide affidavits declaring personal acquaintance of at least five continuous years with the applicant and attest to the applicant’s good moral character and qualifications to become a citizen. The petition must be filed with a court clerk.
  3. Applicant must make open court declaration on oath that he supports the Constitution and absolutely renounces allegiance to any foreign power, name that specific foreign power, and declare his support and defense of the U.S. Constitution against all foreign and domestic enemies.
  4. The court must be satisfied that the applicant has resided in the U.S. for a minimum of five continuous years and has behaved as a person of good moral character reflecting the principles of the Constitution. Two witnesses must testify to corroborate these facts.
  5. Applicant must renounce any hereditary title of nobility.
  6. After making declaration of intent, if applicant dies before becoming a citizen, by complying with the laws of this Act, his widow and children may become naturalized.
  • Sec. 5 – After petition is filed, the court clerk will make public notice of final hearing and provide, if necessary, summons or subpoenas for any witnesses.
  • Sec. 6 – Naturalization hearing dates are fixed by the court after 90 days and cannot be held thirty days prior to any general election.
  • Sec. 7 – Prohibited from naturalization are polygamists and anarchists.
  • Sec. 8 – Prohibited from naturalization are people who cannot speak English, except for those physically unable or for applicants who are homesteaders on public lands.
  • Sec. 9 – Final hearing will be in open court.
  • Sec. 10 – Exceptions to the five year residency requirement require the testimony of two witnesses.
  • Sec. 11 – U.S. has the right to cross examine the applicant and any witnesses and to produce evidence and witnesses regarding any opposition to naturalization.
  • Sec. 12 – Outlines duties and time requirements of court clerk with regard to filing, duplicating and issuing required documentation as well as establishes penalties for failure of duty.
  • Sec. 13 – Outlines duties of court clerks regarding the collection of fees for receiving, filing and issuing required documentation, subpoenas and court costs and the disbursement of collected monies to the various U.S. governmental departments with fiscal responsibility.
  • Sec. 14 – All documents must be bound in chronological order and consecutively numbered, blah, blah, blah, and various other boring details of handling the paperwork.
  • Sec. 15 – Outlines guidelines in which U.S. district attorneys are authorized to cancel certificate of citizenship on legitimate grounds of fraud.
  • Sec. 16 – Establishes punishment for participating in any fraud related to naturalization by fine and imprisonment.
  • Sec. 17 – Establishes punishment for participating in the counterfeit of citizenship documents by fine and imprisonment
  • Sec. 18 – Declares it a felony for anyone to issue a certificate of citizenship contrary to the provisions of this Act, and punishable by fine and imprisonment
  • Sec. 19 – Anyone found guilty of possession of a blank certificate of citizenship with unlawful intent to use, can be punished by fine and imprisonment
  • Sec. 20 – Any court officer who mismanages finances regarding naturalization can be punished by fine and imprisonment.
  • Sec. 21 – Court officers who demand money that are not lawful fees can be punished by fine and imprisonment.
  • Sec. 22 – Court clerks who certify a petitioner or witness was present when they were not, can be punished by fine and imprisonment
  • Sec. 23 – Anyone who is naturalized and knows they are guilty of violating any part of this Act, as well as any accomplice, can be punished by fine and imprisonment.
  • Sec. 24 – Statute of limitations regarding naturalization crimes is five years.
  • Sec. 25 – Any crimes regarding naturalization prior to the passage of this Act, existing laws remain in full force and effect.
  • Sec. 26 – Any laws inconsistent with this Act are repealed.
  • Sec. 27 – Establishes wording and format of forms to be used in naturalization proceedings: Declaration of Intent, Petition for Naturalization, Affidavit, Certificate of Naturalization, Stub of Certificate of Naturalization.
  • Sec. 28 – Secretary of Commerce and Labor has authority to make rules as necessary to fulfill duties of this Act, including all required documentation.
  • Sec. 29 – Declares appropriated provisions for carrying out the effects of the Act.
  • Sec. 30 – Exceptions to residency requirements are outlined.
  • Sec. 31 – Act comes into effect 90 days after passage.

Most of this was a whole lot of bureaucratic hoo-haw. What did all that hoo-haw boil down to? What is the meaning of this all in a nutshell? It mostly meant paperwork, paperwork, paperwork and some time in the pokey if you didn’t do your paperwork right.

At the time this Act passed into law, the following people could become naturalized U.S. citizens:  free, white guys and descendants of black slaves born in the U.S. The following people were banned from immigration, thus from citizenship: all Chinese, convicted felons (unless it was a political crime). This new legislation adds three more classes of people to the “banned” list for citizenship: polygamists, anarchists, and non-English speakers. However, for the first time women are specifically mentioned as eligible for citizenship in number 6 of Section 4. Score one for women!

You would think Sec. 26 may now mean Chinese can immigrate. Perhaps this is a brave, new era of open-mindedness for the U.S. Well, in 1922 this specific law was put to the test in the Supreme Court case of Takao Ozawa v. U.S. Mr. Ozawa lived in the U.S. for 20 years. He was a high school graduate, three year college student, had children educated in the U.S., attended church regularly, and English was the language of his household. There was no question he was qualified for citizenship, yet he was denied. Why?

It seems it all came down to the definition of the word “alien” and clarifying which classes of aliens qualified for citizenship and which classes were banned from citizenship. Justice Sutherland explained in his official court opinion: “In all of the naturalization acts from 1790 to 1906 the privilege of naturalization was confined to white persons… (with the addition in 1870 of those of African nativity and descent), although the exact wording of the various statutes was not always the same. If Congress in 1906 desired to alter a rule so well and so long established it may be assumed that its purpose would have been definitely disclosed and its legislation to that end put in unmistakable terms”.

He went on to explain that the court must assume the point of view of the original framers of the first U.S. immigration law and the subsequent law that extended citizenship privilege to descendants of African slaves. The court must consider that Asians were not specifically excluded because the original framers did not have the perspective to consider that ethnicity to ever be a possibility as immigrants on U.S. soil. Thus, the original framers did not include wording with regard to the Asiatic races. However, since “free, white person” is specified, we must assume the original framers intended for the United States of America to only be populated by Caucasian citizens. No other race had that privilege except for the descendants of U.S. African slaves. And, until some legislator comes along and lawfully redefines the term “alien”, the courts will continue to define it as it was originally meant to be defined, a free, white guy.

Although the U.S. continued to bamboozle non-Caucasian immigrants by keeping its borders open to all races and taking full advantage of any way they may help the nation prosper, by the time poor, non-white immigrants realized they had been had and would never be a part of the privileged class of U.S. citizens because they were the wrong ethnicity, it was too late. By then they were American through and through, as well as their spouses and children, and, maybe,even their grandchildren. No matter how good their moral character may have been, not matter how much they may have contributed to the growth of our nation, if they just weren’t “white” enough, well, too bad. Second class residency status was the best they could hope for.

As I peruse the annals of immigration history I keep saying to myself, “The next immigration bill, now THAT’S gonna be the one that truly reflects America as being a nation that treats all people equal.” Hey, the gringa can hope, cain’t she?

Sources:

Hansan, J.E. (2011). The Progressive Era. Retrieved 6/16/15 from http://www.socialwelfarehistory.com/eras/progressive-era/

The American Journal of International Law, Vol. 1, No. 1, Supplement: Official Documents (Jan., 1907), pp. 31-47. Retrieved 6/16/15 from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2212339

TAKAO OZAWA v. US. Retrieved 6/16/15 from http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-supreme-court/260/178.html

Photo credit: www.chickasaw.tv

Scott Act of 1888, A Dangerous Precedence


From a young age my school drilled into my little gringa head the virtues of the United States and how those virtues are all wrapped up in the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution. I have been taught that the strength of my country and the legitimacy of my right to liberty are the results of these documents penned by the founding fathers of my country. I hear political pundits and legal eagles claim that these documents are irrefutable, unchangeable, unchallengeable. All my life I have believed that no matter how dark things may seem in my own country that, because we all have the inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, in the end, all will come out right. Boy was this gringa wrong. All who pound their political pulpits about our nation being created and determined upon the legal foundation established by these three documents, I tell you the legal validity of these three documents was all shot to hell in 1888.

The Act of 1888, commonly called the Scott Act of 1888, was signed into law October 1, 1888, during the administration of President Grover Cleveland by the First Session of the Fiftieth Congress of the United States. It can be found in the 1064th Chapter and contains four sections that are supplemental to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 which modified the terms of the Burlingame-Seward Treaty of 1868. The Burlingame-Seward Treaty opened America’s borders to all Chinese immigrants. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 prohibited immigration of Chinese prostitutes and “coolies”, Chinese laborers who entered under a labor contract. There were many Chinese on American soil lawfully at the time the Scott Act was enacted. However, they were no longer welcome. The Scott Act of 1888 stipulates the following:

  • Sec. 1 – Prohibited entry into the country of any Chinese whether a new arrival immigrant or even if a returning Chinese resident who left with legal resident status before the passage of the act and returned without knowledge that their status had changed. All Chinese with legal residence status, even if they are still within the borders of the U.S., will become illegal at the passage of this act.
  • Sec. 2 – Any certificate issued according to immigration law affected by the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 becomes invalid by the passing of this act.
  • Sec. 3 – Taxes and penalties for violation established by past legislation remain in effect.
  • Sec. 4 – Any law contradictory to this act is repealed.

In essence, the United States was making it very clear that Chinese were not welcome and were, in effect, being kicked out of the country and banned from entry. Unfortunately, there were some poor souls who departed America before the passage of this legislation and had no idea that, although they had legal resident status when they left the U.S., they would get their eviction notice when they returned. These were people who had lived and worked here for years. They had built a life here. All of their possessions were here. They had money in the bank here. And, they lost it all without any notice. I believe that to be a serious injustice executed by a country that claims to offer equality and protection to the oppressed of the world and invites them to immigrate and build a life in the great melting pot of the United States of America. What a load of horse crap. You can have the rug pulled out from under you at any time if your skin color is not the right shade or if you are practicing the wrong religion.

Eventually over 20,000 Chinese would be displaced by this law. Exiting the country with legal residence status and proper documentation, they were denied entry upon their return to the U.S. A denial that meant they lost all possessions they had accumulated during the years they had worked and contributed to the country. Another 600 Chinese had left their native country before the passage of this act. In good faith they invested an incredible amount of money and time to hazard a long and dangerous ocean voyage to work in a strange country that had given their homeland favor nation status only to arrive and have the door slammed in their face.

A prime example is the Supreme Court case Chae Chan Ping v. United States, which was decided in favor of the U.S. (big surprise) on May 13, 1889. Ping was a Chinese laborer who had been working and living in San Francisco, California from 1875 until 1887 when he left for China with the intention of returning. When he departed the United States in June of 1887, the passage of the Scott Act was well over a year away. Ping had all the legal documentation he was required to have and innocently returned in September of 1888 and was denied entry and detained aboard the ship he arrived in. He filed a lawsuit that he was unlawfully restrained and denied his liberty. The court ordered he be remanded into the custody of the shipmaster. The United States treated as a criminal a man who had abided by the law as he knew the law. A man who had worked and contributed to the growth and production of our country was treated like a criminal. Why? Because he was a Chinese who was in the wrong place at the wrong time and the documents he thought provided a status that would entitle him to rights and protection had been invalidated behind his back.

A Supreme Court Justice who opined on the Chae Chan Ping case stated, “[T]he act is assailed as being in effect an expulsion from the country of Chinese laborers”. I find very troubling this reversal of section five of the Burlingame-Seward Treaty of 1868 which established: “The United States of America and the emperor of China cordially recognize the inherent and inalienable right of man to change his home and allegiance, and also the mutual advantage of the free migration and emigration of their citizens and subjects…”

If immigration was an “inalienable right” and yet was outlawed by U.S. Congress what does that mean for the security of the rest of the American population? Dictionaries define “inalienable right” as meaning a natural law and not one that can be denied by manmade law. This is how it is interpreted and applied when used with regard to the U.S. Declaration of Independence. The inalienable rights of all humanity, as set forth in the Declaration of Independence, are the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Scott Act of 1888 has therefore set a dangerous legal precedence of the power the United States actually wields over what it defines as an “inalienable right”.

In 1868 the United States declared it an inalienable right of man to change his home and freely migrate where he pleases. Twenty years later, motivated by greed and racism, the United States revoked this inalienable right. The Supreme Court of the land supported the position and authority of the United States to do so. The legal precedence has been set. It is actually at the pleasure of the United States government that we get to exercise our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These rights can be revoked at any time the U.S. government pleases.

As I consider the fickle unfaithfulness of the U.S. government’s policies toward the Chinese, this gringa can only think, “My, my, my, how quickly we forget our roots. The Americans of 1888 obviously do not remember that they descended from uninvited guests who arrived as strangers to this country after a dangerous voyage at sea and were welcomed and fed and cared for by the natives of this land.” I look around my barrio and believe I find much more integrity, kindness and loyalty wrapped up in skin that is darker than my own. I am proud that the people of my barrio have adopted me as one of their own. In the barrio it’s not about skin color, it’s about culture. If you work hard, love greatly and help generously, you are welcome. I thought that’s how it’s supposed to be in America. Sadly, it’s not.

Understand that America is a country that conditions its people to believe the U.S. government is “by the people and for the people” and its purpose is to protect our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It’s not. The purpose of the U.S. government is to keep the masses manageable so that the country can continue to grow richer and more powerful. If you interfere in that process, you and your “rights” will get the boot out the door.

Sources:

http://everything2.com , The Scott Act of 1888

http://immigrants.harpweek.com, The Chinese American Experience: 1857-1892, Scott Act (1888)

https://supreme.justia.com, The Chinese Exclusion Case 130 U.S. 581 (1889) U.S. Supreme Court

http://dictionary.reference.com, (definition of inalienable right)

http://www.archives.gov, The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription

Photo credit:  www.migrationpolicy.org