The disconnect between national rhetoric, the law, and public policy
The "Huddled Masses" Myth
Immigration and Civil Rights
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Kevin R. Johnson
Despite rhetoric that suggests that the United States opens its doors to virtually anyone who wants to come here, immigration has been restricted since the nation began. In this book, Kevin R. Johnson argues that immigration policy reflects the social hierarchy that prevails in American society as a whole and that immigration reform is intertwined with the struggle for civil rights.
The "Huddled Masses" Myth focuses on the exclusion of people of color, gays and lesbians, people with disabilities, the poor, political dissidents, and other disfavored groups, showing how bias shapes the law. In the nineteenth century, for example, virulent anti-Asian bias excluded would-be immigrants from China and severely restricted those from Japan. In our own time, people fleeing persecution and poverty in Haiti generally have been treated much differently from those fleeing Cuba. Johnson further argues that although domestic minorities (whether citizens or lawful immigrants) enjoy legal protections and might even be courted by politicians, they are regarded as subordinate groups and suffer discrimination. This book has particular resonance today as the public debates the uncertain status of immigrants from Arab countries and of the Muslim faith.
"The 'Huddled Masses' Myth is remarkably well conceived and written. Kevin Johnson takes up consistently interesting and fundamental questions about immigration law and then covers all the bases. He mounts his claims not through rhetoric, but through careful and meticulous work. This is a first-rate book on a very timely topic, and Johnson's treatment will prove to be very important in domestic debates about immigration."
"Johnson's unique approach to both immigration and civil rights fills an important gap. He broadens the discussion by bringing together the discourse on race, ethnicity, immigration, and citizenship that until the last few years remained virtually isolated from each other. The 'Huddled Masses' Myth is an important contribution to moving away from a binary race paradigm and one that truly considers contemporary U.S. experience as well as challenging previous assumptions about the construction of race as black and white."
"[I]nformative...well documented and very readable. The text presents facts, analysis, and opinion in a balanced manner without straining the reader's attention with excessive details. It is very enjoyable and highly recommended for those interested in race relations, public policy, law, or politics."
"[F]or those unfamiliar with the [immigration policy] field, this is an informative book. ...students can definitely benefit by reading his account."
"What Johnson adds to the discussion is his broad-based analysis, not only of the racialized nature of immigration law and policy, but of the connections between public discourse of 'race' and broader notions of civil rights and citizenship.
"Through the glasses of a liberal scholar trained in law, Johnson offers a perspective on the history of immigration to the United States and its relevance to the issues in the post-September 11 United States.... Johnson's study is highly polished, well argued and accessible."
"[The book] will be an instrumental resource for historians and other non-legal scholars of immigration. Johnson is able to explain and document the legal minutiae of various laws and administrative and court decisions that often stymie non-specialists."
"[The book] presents a valuable analysis of U.S. treatment of immigrants."
"Johnson's work compels readers to question how America treats its minorities and dares America to live according to the letter and spirit of its creed."