History + Immigration in the Usa

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Universidad Nacional de Cuyo
Facultad de Filosofía y Letras
Secretaría de Postgrado

MAESTRÍA EN LITERATURAS EN LENGUA INGLESA
20TH CENTURY HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES AND GREAT BRITAIN
DOCENTE: Dra. Viviana Marsano

IMMIGRATION HISTORY AND LEGISLATION IN PRE AND POST 9/11 U.S.

MAESTRANDA: PROF. PAOLA ARLOTTA
FEBRERO 2006

September 11, 2001

The news shook up the entire world. On September 11, 2001, the world bore witness to the unthinkable, a direct attack on one of the icons of world capitalism: the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center in New York. This act of terrorism awakened a latent fear of the Other, meaning by “Other” anyone who is not born American. Such fear, especially in the early decades of the twentieth century, had given birth to an upsurge of nativism and racism on the basis of a need to keep the Arian race stock pure1, as well as on a need to keep for Americans the scarce jobs available at times of economic crisis. The Bush administration wisely manipulated this fear by redirecting it to both immigrants living in the United States and to prospective ones. With the objective of guaranteeing homeland security, new legislations were passed, which, although aimed at detecting and preventing any other possible terrorist attacks, had a direct impact on immigration. In the midst of the war against terrorism, some Congressmen saw the long awaited opportunity to introduce bills that contained provisions to stop the flow of immigrants to the United States.

Although the consequences of 9/11 are all worth analyzing, this paper will deal with one of them, that is, the new and harder legislations on immigration and the abuses committed against immigrants, particularly Mexicans, either of a legal or illegal status. First, there will be a historical overview of the waves of immigration to the USA in the last three centuries, with a focus on the twentieth century, Americans’ reactions to immigrants in the early decades of that century-a time of economic crisis- and a brief analysis of the causes and consequences of nativism and racism; secondly, this paper will explore the psychosis following 9/11 and the disastrous consequences it brought on immigrants. Finally, some conclusions will be provided.

The two planes that crashed onto the Twin Towers on the morning of September 11th, 2001, henceforth known as the iconic 9/11, not only changed the physiognomy of New York and one of the most famous post-card skylines, but also contaminated Americans’ attitude towards immigrants and the legislations on immigration thereafter. The spread hysteria and paranoia following 9/11 became a trampoline to a sea of injustices, cruelties and murder which, though at surface-level meant a crusade against terrorism, also determined to reinforce existing and restrictive immigration policies, especially towards Mexican immigrants.

“Immigration into the U.S. is an issue that makes for strange bedfellows. Supporters of current immigration levels include corporate interests that profit from cheap foreign labor, ethnic lobbies seeking to increase their political base, and religious activists, humanitarians, and civil libertarians who focus on human rights and other ethical concerns. Opponents include nativists who view non-European immigrants as a threat to American culture, environmentalists who dread immigration-fueled population growth, and labor advocates who fear that immigration is taking jobs from U.S. citizens and depressing U.S. wages. On the right of the political spectrum, free marketers square off against cultural conservatives. On the left, civil rights and ethnic advocacy groups oppose environmentalists and job protectionists.” Stoll, David2

An overview of the history of immigration in the United States

The history of immigration to the United States can be said to have gone through four main phases before September 11th, 2001: 1798-1875...
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