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Immigration & the New Illegality

Program #CHOA001. Recorded in Cambridge, MA on January 29, 2015.

Audio sample:

Xenophobic tendencies in U.S. immigration policy are nothing new. The creation of a “permanent impermanent status” for millions of undocumented immigrants today can be seen in a historical context when we learn about The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the Asiatic Barred Zone in 1917, and the mass deportations of Mexicans in the 1930s and 1950s. Currently there are nationalist sentiments demanding the deportation of 12 million undocumented immigrants no matter how impractical, no matter the cost. Even the humanitarian gesture to expand the numbers eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA is overruled by activist judges. And we can still hear immigrants blamed for everything from bedbugs to measles. But these attitudes are losing traction as the “browning of America” continues. More humane proposals to integrate displaced peoples are slowly moving through state legislative bodies. But on the national level, the plight of new arrivals to the United States seems to twist in the proverbial political wind.


Avi Chomsky

Avi Chomsky is a Latin American History professor at Salem State University and author of Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal and They Take Our Jobs and 20 other Myths about Immigration.

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