Question Selected: How did laws that were passed in the U.S. from 1790-1924 about immigration, naturalization, and citizenship rights undermine the American ideals of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for men and women of different classes and races?
Part I: TakeHome Essay Question (40 points)
Choose one question to answer from the options provided below.
The essay must be wordprocessed, doublespaced, paginated, no less than 750 words and no more than 850 words.
You must have a separate title page on which you include your name, date, essay title, question/prompt number, your LIB 133 section and instructor’s name, and the word count for your essay. The title page and works cited page text do NOT count towards the word count.
In your essay, you must use specific and substantive examples from at least three (3) articles or books on the course syllabus (through paraphrasing, quotes, etc.). In addition, you may also incorporate examples from films/documentaries and class lectures in your essay. Film transcripts do not count as readings. All materials should be properly cited according to MLA intext citation standards.
Your essay must have a thesis statement and be organized thematically, not by readings. Use the MLA Style Sheet in citing the sources that you use in your essay, both in the body of the essay and in your list of citations at the end.
Below is the correct citation format for citing an article in the edited LIB 133 Rothenberg Reader:
Consult the MLA style sheet web source shown below for your other citations:
(Use Purdue OWL site which has a clear explanation of MLA intext citation and Works Cited format. The URL for the webpage on intext citations is here: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/02/ and they also have a good explanation of how to do Works Cited entries here: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/06/ ). The library also has a wiki Citation Style Guides: https://mcphs.pbworks.com/w/page/30951308/Citation%20Style%20Guides
Example of a Citation on Your Works Cited Page:
Shah, Sonia. “Asian American?” LIB 133 American Culture, Identity, and Public Life Course Reader. Ed. Paula S. Rothenberg. New York: Worth Publishers, 2013. 217219. Print.
NOTE: Do not use Rothenberg as the author/title of the article you are citing. You must use the name of the article’s author and the title of that article in the text of your paper and on the works cited page.
The Essay Question:
How did laws that were passed in the U.S. from 1790-1924 about immigration, naturalization, and citizenship rights undermine the American ideals of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for men and women of different classes and races?
LIB 133 faculty take cheating very seriously, as does the University. Refer to the University honesty policy as stated in the student handbook: Students must abide by the Academic Policies and Procedures set forth in the MCPHS College Catalog. Important information regarding Excused Absence Approval, Disability Support Services for students, Academic Honesty and Plagiarism and other academic policies is set forth in the Academic Policies and Procedures section of the MCPHS Catalog. http://www.mcphs.edu/academics/college catalog. Students must read, understand, and comply with all of these policies and procedures.
Should turnitin.com show evidence of plagiarism, the violation will be processed as stated in the student handbook in collaboration with the Dean of Students staff. A determination that plagiarism did occur will result in a “0” for the entire exam. In addition, a letter of academic misconduct will be placed in the student’s permanent file.
Sources to choose from:
Behrens, “It’s About Immigrants, Not Irishness”:
American perceptions of Irish immigrants in the 19th century
Racialization of Irish immigrants
Maine’s Governor LePage, his heritage and attitude about current immigrants Americans’ perceptions of current immigrants
Berhens’s ideas about St. Patrick’s Day
Rubin “Is This a White Country, or What?”:
Differences between 19th century and contemporary American immigrants
Attitudes about immigrants based on their countries of origin and race or ethnicity
White working class and American perceptions of new immigrants in contemporary America Attitudes connecting race and immigrant status
Influence of economic downturns on American attitudes towards immigrants
Ngai, “Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of America”:
1924 Johnson Reed Immigration Act (National Origins Quota System for determining who could enter the country)
Connections between race and illegal status for immigrants to the U.S.
Racial exclusion from immigration and naturalization
Undocumented immigrants as both “welcome and unwelcome”
Difference between Mexican and Canadian deportation cases
1965 HartCeller Act
1917 Asiatic Barred Zone
Shah, “Asian American?”:
Why the term “Asian American” is a “problematic” panracial category
“Strategic value” in unity among Asian American groups
Lui, “The Economic Reality of Being Asian American”:
The solar system as an example of racial economic structure
Exclusionary policies regarding immigrants from Asian countries
“Bipolar” description of the U.S. Asian population
The “Asian Strategy” for socioeconomic advancement
Web Articles and Readings
Current Citizenship Readings (listed in the syllabus)
Benefits of becoming a naturalized citizen
Reasons people do not become citizens
Process of becoming a citizen
1790 Naturalization Act:
Requirements for immigrants who wish to become American citizens “Free white person”
Declaration of Independence (1776) Significance and purpose of the document
John O’Sullivan’s writing on Manifest Destiny (1839)
American values and characteristics
“American Progress” (the painting)
Corinne T. Field, “ARE WOMEN … ALL MINORS?”: Woman’s Rights and the Politics of Aging in the Antebellum United States,” Journal of Women’s History 12.4 (Winter 2001): 113137.
Antebellum era in U.S. history
Three reforms women’s rights activists’ fought for
Jacksonian democracy and the common man
American citizenship and access to voting
Independent citizenship for men and for women
Women and marriage
Connection between men’s age and citizenship and voting
Changes in men’s voting rights in the early 1800s
Differences between men and women and designation of adult status
Age, stage of life, marital status and women’s citizenship and voting rights
What does it mean to be a minor?
Limits to Americans’ citizenship rights in the 1800s compared to today
Molina, Natalia. “Borders, Laborers, and Racialized Medicalization: Mexican Immigration and US Public Health Practices in the 20th Century.” American Journal of Public Health Vol. 101 NO. 6 (2011): 10241031. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3093266/pdf/1024.pdf)
Mexican immigration and public health
Immigration timeline and significant occurrences
“Ideology of Manifest Destiny”
MexicanAmerican War and perceptions of the MexicanAmerican War
Reasons for Mexican immigration in the early 20th c.
What does Molina mean when she wrote “how a problem is defined shapes the solution”?
Mary C. Waters, “Immigration, Intermarriage, and the Challenges of Measuring
Racial/Ethnic Identities,” American Journal of Public Health Vol. 90, NO. 11 (November 2000):
17351737. (http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/pdfplus/10.2105/AJPH.90.11.1735 )
Changes in immigration to the U.S. after 1965
Race, ethnicity and American identity
Racial definitions (whiteness/blackness) in the U.S. and other countries
Intermarriage, multiracial people and the U.S. census
Irish immigrants and “race suicide”
Difference between a racial group and an ethnic group
What is “ancestry data”?
What is “multiple race reporting”?
Accuracy and concerns about of the U.S. census
Jose Antonio Vargas, “What Does It Mean To Be An American?” Huffington Post, July 4, 2012. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joseantoniovargas/joseantoniovargasmeaningofamerican_b _1647894.html
His idea of the American Dream and what it means to be an American
Francisco Jimenez, The Circuit: stories from the life of a migrant child
Legal status and deportation experiences Nature of migrant agricultural labor Father’s work ethic and labor experiences
Mother’s work experiences and contributions to family economy
Comparison to bracero’s experience and attitude
Teachers’ influences on Panchito’s learning
The butterfly story’s significance
Mexican migrants’ lifestyles and issues:
access to education
family members’ roles and responsibilities privacy at home
health and access to health care
social relations outside the family
religion and culture (such as healing traditions)
The New Americans: The Indian Technical Worker (if you watched it in class)
Anjan’s father’s perspective of Americans and life in the U.S.
Anjan’s100week plan and his expectations regarding his work experience in the U.S. Harshini’s experiences living in the U.S.
Their expectations of what it would be like to live in the U.S.
Job security and the impact of an economic downturn on Anjan’s job and visa status
Harvest of Loneliness: The Bracero Program
Bracero Program (dates it was in effect, ethnic group for which it was developed)
Guest worker program
Relationship of agricultural interests/farmers with government in order to acquire labor force Experiences of family members braceros left behind in Mexico
Economic exploitation of workers by their employers
Physical problems experienced by braceros
Human rights, American ideals and the bracero program
The House We Live In (excerpt, Race: The Power of an Illusion Episode 3)
Characteristics of immigrants entering the US from the 18901920s (the “New Immigrants”)
Race, immigration, whiteness, and naturalized citizenship (1790 Act)
The “Melting Pot” model of assimilation
Takao Ozawa and Bhagat Singh Thind U.S. Supreme Court cases regarding citizenship 1924 JohnsonReed Immigration Act
“Japanese Internment” (Office of War Information Committee of the Motion Picture
Association, 1943) (if you viewed it in class)
Which states were affected by the removal and detention of Japanese heritage people? Reasons for putting Japanese heritage people – immigrants and their American born children who were U.S. citizens – in detention camps
Life in the camps (housing, schools, work, families) The use of this documentary as a propaganda tool
Naturalization, Immigration Laws and Citizenship Rights – How the Laws Undermined the American Ideals
The naturalization and immigration laws of the U.S. formed and passed from 1790 to 1924 undermined the American ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for different groups of Americans. The U.S. Constitution consists of the Bill of Rights and civil rights that protect and uphold the liberties, justice and the freedom of every American. However, the naturalization and immigration laws formed in the mentioned period worked against the ideals the Constitution promotes. For instance, the U.S. Naturalization Law of March 1790, which outlined the first principles and laws for granting national citizenship undermined the ideals by limiting naturalization (Lee 118)to free white immigrants of good character. Immigrants of other races and certain social class were excluded from naturalization by the law (Jiménez 83). This essay discusses the naturalization and immigration laws passed between 1790 and 1924, their influence on citizenship rights, and most importantly, how they undermined the American ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for people of different races and social class.
The U.S. Naturalization Law of 1790 undermined the American ideals by promoting racism. The law allowed the immigration and naturalization of free white people of good character and excluded any other race from the enjoyment of the right and the pursuance of happiness in the U.S. According to the law, American Indians, African Americans, and Asians were excluded from the law and thus denied their right to attain American citizenship. Even when the law did not place restrictions on immigration or any other restrictions on non-whites, it denied them a fundamental right provided for in the Constitution. The elements of the Declaration of Independence promoted the ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all men considering them equal, and created by the Creator with unalienable rights. The enforcement of a law that denied non-whites the right to pursue happiness and to be free in the U.S. undermined the American ideals (Harris and Tichenor 200).
Moreover, other laws such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 undermined the ideals on racial grounds. The Act restricted the immigration of the Chinese for ten years and prohibited their naturalization (Kil 663). The reason for the restriction and denial of naturalization was mainly racism and the threat of the cheap labor provided by the Chinese workers. The provisions of the Act constrained the rights of the Chinese immigrants to attain citizenship and pursue their dreams and happiness in the U.S. According to Kil (677), the Act was a great impediment to the right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It undermined the ideals that the Constitution seeks to promote by denying the Chinese naturalization on racial grounds. Chinese laborers who had lived in the country for long to gain naturalization were denied citizenship under the law.
In addition, different laws created between 1790 and 1920 undermined the American ideals by denying people of different social class liberty and the right to the pursuance of happiness. For instance, the Naturalization Act of 1790, the Page Act of 1875, and the Immigration Act of 1903 undermined the ideals in different ways. On the one hand, by limiting naturalization to free whites alone and denying the indentured servants and slaves the right to citizenship, the law undermined the American principles embedded in the Constitution. It denied the slaves and indentured servants the right to naturalization due to their lower social class. On the other hand, the Page Act of 1875 undermined the American ideals by denying persons considered as undesirable immigration to the U.S. and attached racism into the law by citing all Asian laborers immigrating to the U.S. as undesirable (Chen 298). The application of the law in preventing the immigration of Asian laborers into the U.S. on the basis of their race and social class was a gross violation of the American values as depicted in the Declaration of Independence which cited all people equal.
Moreover, the laws denied individual suffering from
particular illnesses and depicting physical disabilities the chance to naturalize
and immigrate to the U.S. Such laws undermined the ideals of the U.S. of
liberty and the pursuit of happiness (Harris and Tichenor 200). The Immigration Act
of 1903, the Immigration Act of 1907, and the Immigration Act of 1918 are some
of the major laws that undermined the American ideas. For example, the
Immigration Act of 1903 (also the Anarchist Exclusion Act) denied anarchists,
people with epilepsy, and beggars the enjoyment of the American ideals of freedom
of speech and expression and the right to pursue happiness (LeMay and
Additionally, the Acts of 1907 and 1918 restricted the immigration of the disabled
and some diseased people and anarchist respectively. As such, the laws undermined
the very ideals the U.S. constitution promoted. The equality of humans, liberty
for all, and the right to pursue happiness.
Chen, Joyce J. “The Impact Of Skill-Based Immigration Restrictions: The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.” Journal of Human Capital 9 (3) (2015): 298-328.
Harris, Richard A and Daniel J Tichenor. A history of the U.S. political system : ideas, interests, and institutions. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2010.
Jiménez, Francisco. The circuit : stories from the life of a migrant child. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998.
Kil, Sang Hea. “Fearing Yellow, Imagining White: Media Analysis of The Chinese Exclusion Act Of 1882.” Social Identities 18 (6) (2012): 663-677.
Lee, Erika. “U.S. Immigration And Naturalization Laws And Issues.” Journal of American Ethnic History 20 (2) (2001): 118.
LeMay, Michael C and Elliott Robert Barkan. The immigrant’s gateways to America : a documentary history. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1999.