Tag Archives: immigration

The Wild West Meets the Southern Border

4 Jun

Northwest Iowa Center for Regional Studies

Tombstone’s reënactors re-create a peculiar and selective representation of the past. Photograph by Chris Verene for The New Yorker

Shakespeare is in New Mexico. Tombstone, in Arizona. Both are old mining towns near the U.S.-Mexico border. They came into existence in the eighteen-seventies, during the silver strike, but soon suffered the same fate as most of the other mining towns in the region: boom, depression, abandonment, and then a strange kind of afterlife.

Some years ago, I spent a summer in the Southwest with my then husband, our daughter, and my two stepsons, and we visited both places. It was 2014, the immigration crisis was very much in the news—unaccompanied children from Central America were arriving at the border in unprecedented numbers, seeking asylum—and I was beginning to do research on the situation. My husband and I were obsessively meeting deadlines, and the kids were getting impatient with us, feeling…

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How the Census Changed America

1 May

 

The inventor Herman Hollerith devised a punch-card system to record census information. His invention transformed data-processing technology. Photograph by American Stock Archive / Archive Photos / Getty

In April, the Supreme Court began to hear arguments about one of the central requirements of the Constitution. It’s right there, in Article I, Section 2, clause 3: For a government of the people to function, the people must be counted. The Founders wanted an “enumeration” to occur within three years of the first meeting of Congress, and then “within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.” A census, in other words.

So begins Ted Widmer’s brief consideration of some of the history of the U.S. Census. While he rightly notes the partial exclusion of African Americans for much of this history, he fails to note the even longer exclusion of most American Indians. Indians were not declared U.S. citizens until an act of Congress in 1924.

You may read Widmer’s entire New Yorker article here.

Evangelicals and Immigration: A Conflicted History

18 Mar

In yellow paint, the words "I was a stranger and you welcomed me - Jesus" are written on brown, rusty fence slats.

Last June, a national outcry followed the Trump administration’s policy to separate children from their parents at the U.S. border. In response to the public outrage, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions pointed to the Apostle Paul’s “clear and wise command in Romans 13,” recorded in the Bible. In this passage, the Apostle urged Christians to obey the governing authorities, Sessions claimed, and implied that the asylum seekers had violated this biblical mandate. Indeed, obedience to the governing authorities has informed evangelicals’ thinking on immigration for well over a decade. When it comes to immigration, white evangelicals value the unity of families and the rule of law, with a preference for the latter. For many evangelicals, the immigration debate starts and ends with the Apostle Paul’s exhortion to “be subject to the governing authorities.”

White evangelicals, in particular, consistently favor hard-line stances on immigration. As a Public Religion Research Institute survey published last October shows, they are the only religious group which believes that immigrants threaten American society (57 percent) and which supports banning refugees from entering the U.S. (51 percent). And while evangelicals of other ethnicities have somewhat softer attitudestoward immigrants, Latino evangelicals supported President Trump in surprisingly large numbers, despite his extremely anti-immigrant rhetoric and policy proposals (49.4 percent, compared with under a third of all Hispanics), as political scientist Ryan Burge has found.

But as a look at evangelicals’ long history of ministering to immigrants and refugees shows, evangelical skepticism of immigration is a relatively recent development. Before the 1990s, evangelical Christians were busier resettling the newly arrived refugees than banning them from entering the United States. Before they became immigration restrictionists, evangelicals actively endorsed and participated in a large-scale legalization effort for undocumented immigrants (and, indeed, some evangelicals still assist undocumented immigrants in that way). In cooperation with the Justice Department’s Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), evangelical churches across the country helped legalize thousands of undocumented immigrants during the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act’s legalization program.

So begins Ulrike Elisabeth Stockhausen’s summary of her dissertation. To read the rest of her summary at Process, the Organization of American Historians blog, click here.

An Iowa Governor Worth Remembing: Robert E. Ray, 1928-2018

9 Jul

Northwest Iowa Center for Regional Studies

Image result for Robert Ray Tai Dam

My friend Jim Schaap has posted a fine remembrance of former Governor Ray. It is worth your read, here.

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Yes, your ancestors probably did come here legally — because ‘illegal’ immigration is less than a century old in the U.S.

21 Jun

Yes, your ancestors probably did come here legally — because 'illegal' immigration is less than a century old

When Nathalie Gumpertz arrived in New York in 1858, she was 22, single and ready to build a life in her new country. Without thinking twice about her legal status, she got off the boat, made her way to the Lower East Side (then known as Klein Deutschland, or “Little Germany,” due to the preponderance of German immigrants in the neighborhood) and eventually married, had four kids and settled at 97 Orchard St., the historic tenement house that is now the heart of the Tenement Museum, where I serve as president.

More than six decades later, in 1925, Rosaria Baldizzi arrived in New York to join her husband Adolfo at the same building, 97 Orchard. Baldizzi had a cloud hanging over her head that would remain there for the next two decades, one that Gumpertz never worried about: She had not entered the U.S. legally, and therefore had to worry about possible deportation.

What happened to make these two women’s experiences so different? In the years between their arrivals, “illegal” immigration was invented.

So begins Kevin Jennings’ brief history in the Los Angeles Times of U.S. immigration law. You may read the rest of his piece here.

Holland America & Rotterdam: From Rotterdam, Many Left for a New Life

25 Apr

ROTTERDAM, the Netherlands — They came from Russia, Poland, Germany and Ukraine, bearing tickets bought in the field offices of the Holland America Line passenger ships. They were fleeing the pogroms, escaping tyrants, running from war or just seeking a better life. About two million people made their way to Rotterdam harbor during the peak years from 1880 to 1920 to begin a trans-Atlantic journey that would often end at Ellis Island.

The stories of these migrants inspired the former Rijksmuseum director, Wim Pijbes, and the group he leads, Stichting Droom en Daad (Foundation Dream and Do), to transform a crumbling warehouse on the Rotterdam piers into a kind of Dutch sister-site to Ellis Island. The nonprofit organization he directs, founded in 2016 to support arts in Rotterdam, acquired a city permit in March to turn the old Holland America Line warehouse into an institution that will commemorate those journeys.

So begins Nina Siegal’s New York Times story on the Holland America Line site in Rotterdam. You may read the rest of the post here.

The Western origins of the sanctuary movement

14 Mar

Churches in the West are once again at the forefront of a grassroots effort to save immigrants from deportation. Read Sarah Troy’s cogent report on the history and current directions of the reawakened Sanctuary movement here at High Country News: The Western origins of the sanctuary movement — High Country News

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