10/2/20 Week 6 Immigration Act of 1924 Hist

First, we get insight about Hill’s job in formulating the quotas and its different degrees of support throughout different parts of the nation. Hill expresses the challenge to submit these quotas to be both fair and accurate, and despite his extensive horror in the job, Hoover enacts the Quota Boar’s report after his election to office. We see the race-based nativism welcoming northwest Europeans rather than southeast Europeans with influence from the Immigration Act of 1924. 

This article argues the Immigration Act of 1924 “reconstructed racial categories, in which race and nationality- concepts that had been loosely conflated since the nineteenth century- disaggregated and realigned in new and uneven ways.” European immigrants could’ve taken on the European and American nationalities, and used the single race of whiteness, while undesired immigrants like Chinese, Mexicans, Filipinos, blacks, and Japanese, or other non-European immigrants had their race and ethnic identity merged. The article configures how immigration law aided in constructing race and nationality in 1924 through the aspects of invented national origins as immigration quotas being process into practical policy, second the concept of ineligible citizenship applied to Asians to maintain the culture of exclusion and racism, then turns to see the role of immigration law with the racial formation of Mexicans and the restrictive Border Patrol processes. 

In making national origins, the Quota Board subtracted Western immigrants, aliens, slave descendants, and American aborigine descendants to calculate U.S. citizens, and when defining who what immigrants belonged to coming over, we had to completely start a foundation of what to refer to as new nation-states as, differentiate native stock and foreign stock, national origin, nationality, etc. Amid so much world conflict and already unspecific global census takings, the U.S. had to start from the bottom to conceptualize categories into the immigration system. As an effect, all non-white inhabitants were discredited from American nationality. Race was a determining factor, encouraging more white persons from white countries over colored races globally. The census results became a huge supporting piece for conservative, nativist, restrictionists which argued native birthrate increases would tarnish America and they would’ve been a threat to low-skilled jobs available. While Francis Walker researched to encourage restriction, Hill tried to add census questions to measure assimilation and better establish race theory.

Multiple conditions arose to distinctively descendants. Hill expresses a grave challenge in creating the Census that there was a lack of legitimate documentation tracking origins of the white, native-stock population. Among intermarriage, descendants were still separate, and race was defined by blood quantum, applying the “one drop of blood rule” to negros specifically. The possibility of intermarriage between non-white and white races wasn’t given respectable attention. 

As for the lack of eligibility to citizenship and the rule of racial unassailability… over half the world’s population was barred of the Far East and Asiatic zone. The elements which evolved along the racial requirements for citizenship included how we define white as well as the rule of racial unassailability. In the Nationality Act of 1790, free white persons were eligible for citizenship, then the 14th amendment invited Africans of descent to former slaves. The Nationality Act of 1870 later arose, even including the undesirable southeast Europeans to pass as white. This act created a black-white construct of prerequisite to citizenship based on race, and while the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 barred Chinese, it was still unclear where other Asians and non-white, non-Europeans categorized. There were a handful of cases challenging the racial prerequisites and most of the time, the court denied biological arguments as it was faulty to separate race already. The arguments of Caucasian embodying non-white and purity took shape and then, the ineligibility to citizen was extended to Asian countries and other discrete ethnic groups to better compromise admittance for those immigrants in the gray areas. 

After these groups were naturalized but not given citizenship, land laws and other general discriminatory practices were targeted at these groups but excused as the non-discriminatory laws applied to aliens. In order to separate Asian citizens from aliens, nationality was constructed as a racial category, like the merging of the two occurred for Euro-Americans. 

Now that Asians were declared not white, the similar problem existed trying to classify Mexicans. Mexicans were already considered a conquered population after the Mexican American War, but the previous cross over of citizenship in the previously ceded area made the politics in classification complicated. The courts extended the right to naturalize to Mexicans, not citizenship. There was arguments against how subjective classification of Mexicans, such a mixed race were. In the late 1920’s legal restraints on Mexican immigration skyrocketed and the problem of illegal immigration was associated nearly directly with Mexicans. They were the race which was accounting for about 80% of voluntary departures. In the same case proposals, the different races of Euro-Americans had extreme amount of increased privilege and resources in contrast to the Mexicans. The harsh illegal stereotyping against Mexicans diminished our ties with them to mostly Mexican laborers working for American agricultural owners. In 1930’s, the Census assigned Mexicans their own race box, signaling a failure of assimilation, and reducing our conceptualization of Mexicans to be an illegal immigration issue. 


  • Immigration policy created internal and external political, social, and econ boundaries 
  • Race and nationality, or their overlapping areas depicted Americans in a racialized light
  • The Immigration Act of 1924 racialized immigration groups around our newly constructed perceptions of whiteness, foreign non-whiteness, and illegality. Eugenics and nativism contribute to racial formations and racial distinctions which reflect in America today even. 

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