Immigration and Ethnic Group Relations in 20th Century America

Introduction

Chronology of U.S. Immigration History
An Outline History of "Ethnicity" in the United States


Block #1

The Roots of Emigration
Immigration to the US, 1870-1920
The New Immigration in Comparative Perspective
Transplantation and Transformation of Immigrant Culture
Immigrants in the U.S. Economy
Immigrants in American Politics
The Racial Roots of Immigration Policy
American Immigration Restriction, 1875-1929

Examination #1


Block #2

The Northward Migration of African-Americans
Immigration from Mexico
Refugee Issues during and after WWII
Domestic Conflict during World War II
The Economic Assimilation of European Ethnics
The Social Assimilation of European Ethnics
Video Presentation
Spring Break
The Political Assimilation of European Ethnics
The Triple Melting Pot and Beyond
The Immigration Reform of 1965

Examination #2


Block #3

Immigration to the U.S. since 1965
The Undocumented
U.S. Refugee Policy
Immigration and Economics
IMMACT90 and Pending Proposals
Immigration, Ethnicity, and Race since 1965
The Debate over Multiculturalism
Current Evidence on Assimilation

Examination #3




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Schedule

Introductory Week

Text:
Thomas J. Archdeacon, Becoming American: An Ethnic History, Chapters I-IV


T: 21 January
Chronology of U.S. Immigration History

We shall review the syllabus and the ground rules for the course. For the benefit of students who know little about immigration history, I shall then provide a quick history of the various "waves" of immigration to come to the U.S. I shall provide a little more information about immigration in the colonial period and in the Pre-Civil War era, which will not be covered in this course, than about immigration in later years, which will be the focus of our attention. The goals of the lecture are to help students develop a context in which can place what they will learn in the course and to provide them an outline of the material to be covered in regard to the history of immigration.




R: 23 January
An Outline History of "Ethnicity" in the United States

The goals of this lecture are analogous to those of the first lecture: to develop a context and to provide an outline for the history of ethnic group relations and ethnicity. Once again, and for the same reason, the colonial and pre-Civil War periods will receive a little more attention. We shall examine, across the span of American history, the patterns of initial interaction and eventual accommodation between earlier arrivals and those who came later. Moreover, we shall call attention to debates relating to the extent to which ethnic identities have survived - or ought to survive - in the U.S.



Block 1
Immigration and Restriction, 1870-1930

Text: Thomas J. Archdeacon, Becoming American: An Ethnic History, Chapters V-VI


T: 28 January
The Roots of Emigration

Though the geographic origins of immigrant flows have changed over time, the causes and processes of human movements across borders have shown strong elements of continuity. In general, emigrations occur in the wake of a population "explosion" in a donor country that has become at least partly integrated into the economic system of one or more potential receiving nations. Once emigration begins, networks linking early arrivals with those still in the home country intensify and sustain the flow of people until the destination nation becomes less attractive or takes action to restrict entry. This lecture examines the complexities behind that apparently simple line of argument.




R: 30 January
Immigration to the US, 1870-1920

Late in the 19th century, the primary source of immigrants to the United States shifted from the North and East of Europe to the South and East of that continent. At the same time, small numbers of immigrants also entered from Asia and Latin America. This lecture examines the size and causes of the flows from particular countries, including Germany, Ireland, the Scandinavian states, Italy, Russia, and the Austria-Hungarian empire. We can only touch on the basics, and, for information in depth on particular groups, students will have to pay close attention to the summaries provided for the supplementary readings.




T: 4 February
The New Immigration in Comparative Perspective

Historians have often described the surge of movement to the United States occurring between 1880 or 1890 and 1930 as the "New Immigration," and the influx was, in some ways, different from earlier ones. In the thinking of some scholars, however, the term has wrongly de-emphasized continuities between periods and incorrectly dated some of those changes that did occur over time. It has also unintentionally given credibility to racial stereotypes that turn-of-the-century entertained about certain immigrant groups. This lecture considers what, if anything, was new about the "New Immigration."




R: 6 February
Transplantation and Transformation of Immigrant Culture

Through the first half of the 20th century, observers assumed that immigrant cultures and ethnic identities faded rapidly in the U.S. Some of them also believed that shock of immigration had severely disruptive effects on immigrant families. In recent decades, scholars have become increasingly cognizant of the extent to which the immigrants' original identities not only persisted but also helped them adjust to the new realities of their world. As with most such pendulum-like swings of interpretation, the most reasonable position probably lies at some distance from either extreme. This lecture discusses the roots of the interpretive controversy and the evidence related to important aspects of it.

Reading: Hasia Diner, Erin's Daughters in America: Irish Immigrant Women in the Nineteenth Century




T: 11 February
Immigrants in the U.S. Economy

Regardless of the era, the role of immigrants in the economy of the host society has been a source of controversy. Foes of immigration hardly ever see a benefit, and advocates of it rarely see a cost. Assessing the issue is difficult because the questions asked are politically charged, the analytical requirements for answering them are technically quite difficult, and the final judgment often involves a value-driven balancing of competing goods. This lecture examines evidence relating to the problem at the beginning of the 20th century and discusses the problematic relationship between immigrants and a labor movement struggling to improve the lives of the working poor.




R: 13 February
Immigrants in American Politics

Politics permeates issues relating to immigration and ethnicity, and this course will take several looks at the topic. This lecture focuses on how immigrants -- most of whom, in certain groups, were not citizens -- were represented politically, and on how questions germane to immigration and ethnicity affected debates about domestic and foreign policies. It discusses the emergence of second-generation ethnics in urban politics, and it will pay special attention to the impact of World War I and its aftermath on popular perceptions of immigrants' loyalty to the interests of the U.S.




T: 18 February
The Racial Roots of Immigration Policy

Economic and political fears probably constituted sine qua nons in the movement to restrict immigration to the United States. Those, however, were not the only issues. This lecture examines prejudices about the effects of religious and cultural diversity as well as popular and supposedly scientifically based fears about potential social costs that an unsuccessful effort to assimilate groups presumed to be innately inferior might produce. Such concerns were very important in shaping the particular program of restriction that was eventually enacted.




R: 20 February
American Immigration Restriction, 1875-1929

Serious efforts to control immigration began in the 1870s. For the next quarter century the Congress enacted programs aimed at turning back immigrants whose individual personal, physical, or socioeconomic characteristics made them unwelcome additions to the population. As time passed, critics found those programs inadequate and turned to remedies that would close the gates to larger numbers. Those later initiatives directly or indirectly had their greatest impact on people culturally, ethnically, and racially different from the dominant population. This lecture discusses both the early efforts and the later programs, which culminated in a series of sharply restrictive laws enacted in the 1920s.




T: 25 February
Examination #1






Block 2
From Immigrants to Ethnics

Text: Thomas J. Archdeacon, Becoming American: An Ethnic History, Chapters VII-VIII

David M. Reimers, Still the Golden Door: The Third World Comes to America, Chapters 1-3


R: 27 February
The Northward Migration of African-Americans

To allow inclusion of the African-American experience in this course to imply that it can be reduced to a variant of the immigrant experience would be wrong, and so I am explicitly disowning such an equation. Nevertheless, some discussion of the black experience is not only beneficial but also necessary. Some persons of African descent have freely immigrated to the United States -- usually from islands in the Atlantic and Caribbean, and the migrations of native-born African-Americans within the United States often mirrored and complemented the immigration of peoples across national borders. This lectures examines the exodus of African-Americans from the South to the North and West, and analyzes similarities and differences in the experiences of African and non-African movers.




T: 4 March
Immigration from Mexico

On the one hand, people of Mexican ancestry have been residents of lands that are now part of the United States from a time prior to the birth of this country. On the other, most Latinos currently resident are either immigrants themselves or descendants of persons who entered the United States from Mexico, or from some other Hispanic state, after the North Americans had established the present boundaries of this nation subsequent to the annexation of Texas and the Mexican War. This lecture focuses on permanent and temporary Mexican migration to the U.S. during roughly the first half of the twentieth century. The reading will also be relevant for our later discussion of the extent to which European groups experienced assimilation over that period.

Reading: George J. Sánchez, Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900-1945




R: 6 March
Refugee Issues during and after WWII

International law ­­ especially as defined by Western Powers ­­ sharply distinguishes refugees from persons who cross international borders for reasons other than to escape persecution from which they are individually at risk for reasons that are essentially political. The substance of the distinction between refugees and other immigrants, however, is disputable and has not always been clear in concept or law. This lecture examines the refugee issues stemming from World War I, the effects of U.S. immigration policy and racial attitudes on efforts to deal with refugee populations created by Nazi persecution, and American efforts as well as those of the United Nations to deal with displaced populations after World War II.




T: 11 March
Domestic Conflict during World War II

World War II was, in many ways, a defining moment in the history of racism. The United States entered the conflict in part because the Nazi racial ideology had implications so extreme that Americans, despite their own penchant for racism, could not accept them. Moreover, for combatants on both sides of the conflict in the Pacific, racism played a central role in defining their enemies and the objectives to be won. This lecture touches on those topics, but concentrates on domestic events in the United States during World War II. It discusses episodes of conflict between the dominant population and Japanese, African, and Mexican minorities as evidence not only of racism but also of changes that would ultimately lead to the rise of an anti-racist movement.




R: 13 March The Economic Assimilation of European Ethnics

For a score of years after World War II, observers believed that ethnicity was waning as a force in American life. Part of the reason for that assumption lay in the prosperity of the era. This lecture examines the emergence of a substantial middle class among Americans of European descent and the impact of that development on popular perceptions of ethnicity. It also addresses the extent to which ethnic origin - and religious and racial backgrounds as well - continued to limit prospects for opportunity and social mobility.




T: 18 March
The Social Assimilation of European Ethnics

Social scientists have looked not only at changes in economic standing but also at shifts in residential patterns, intermarriage, and public opinion for evidence regarding the amount of assimilation that occurred in the U.S. population after 1930. This lecture examines their methods and their findings. It also analyzes the extent to which nonwhite and other minority groups shared in the experiences of persons of European descent.




R: 20 March
Video Presentation

I am scheduled to be at a conference in Washington, DC.






Spring Break








T: 1 April
The Political Assimilation of European Ethnics

Persons descended from the European immigrant groups of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were highly visible political players in American politics by the middle of the 20th century. The support of American ethnics and of the urban political machines that helped organize them was essential to the New Deal, which, in turn, helped the descendants of the immigrants to achieve their goals of economic security and political opportunity. These developments, however, were coincident with, and ironically contributed to, a decline in the salience of ethnic and religious identity. This lecture examines the phenomena of ethnic politics between the symbolically important elections of 1928 and 1960.




R: 3 April
The Triple Melting Pot and Beyond

By the 1950s, the fears of any earlier generation that immigrants and their progeny could not or would not to American ways had receded. Commentators recognized that complete assimilation had not taken place, but they chose to deem the glass half full rather than half empty. In the thinking of most opinion makers, residual differences in ethnic and religious identity seemed non-threatening. Some, including President Kennedy, even used evidence of the diminishing role of ethnicity and religion as a call to face the seemingly more intractable problem of reducing differences between blacks and whites. This lecture examines the evolving thinking of mid-century commentators on the role of ethnicity in American society and the effort to extend the paradigm of the European experience to African-Americans and other minorities.




T: 8 April
The Immigration Reform of 1965

Sad lessons taught by World War II about the costs of racism and growing satisfaction with the apparently diminishing role of ethnicity in their society led Americans to reevaluate their immigration policy. Even the McCarran-Walter Act of the conservative 1950s, despite its retention of most of the restrictions imposed in the 1920s, shifted the rationale for the limitation of immigration to less racist grounds and opened the gates somewhat to the entry of Asians. The Immigration Act Amendments of 1965 - part of a package of reforms passed as Lyndon Johnson's fulfillment of the Kennedy legacy - effectively disavowed the ethnically discriminatory intentions of existing legislation. This lecture reviews the reshaping of immigration legislation, but it will also emphasize the limitations on the changes that the reformers intended to achieve.




T: 15 April
Examination #2

Note that examination takes place on the Tuesday one week following the end of the block rather than on the class day immediately after it.



Block 3
Immigration and Ethnicity since 1965

Text: David M. Reimers, Still the Golden Door: The Third World Comes to America, Chapters 4-8


R: 10 April
Immigration to the U.S. since 1965

Due to demographic and socioeconomic forces at work worldwide, and in part as an unintended consequence of the Immigration Act Amendments of 1965, immigration to the United States has risen to unprecedented levels over the last 30 years. This lecture examines the causes of emigration in our time and discusses conditions particular to several major donor countries. It also analyzes the connections and differences among flows of traditional immigrants, undocumented immigrants, refugees, and temporary workers. Once again, I must state that the lecture can only touch on the basics, and that, for information in depth about particular groups, students will have to pay close attention to the summaries provided for the supplementary readings.




T: 15 April
Examination #2 (material from Block 2)

See statement above.


R: 17 April
The Undocumented

"Undocumented immigration" is a less inflammatory term for the phenomenon popularly called "illegal immigration." Scholars prefer the former phrase because illegally entering the U.S. is a civil rather than a criminal wrong and because the line separating undocumented from documented immigrants is quite blurred. The two groups reflect the same pressures and ambitions, and numbers of those who come to the U.S. legally have at some point lived in this country illegally. This lecture examines the size and sources of the undocumented population, compares illegal and legal immigrants in terms of their characteristics and economic impacts, and analyzes the effects of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) and of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on the problem.




T: 22 April
U.S. Refugee Policy

This lecture examines the evolution of U.S. refugee and asylum policy since the Hungarian Crisis of 1956. In particular, it discusses the Refugee Act of 1980 and the movement from a system that equated refugees with opponents of Communism to one eschewing such ideological determinations. It also examines the extent to which practices have changed to match the change in principle, the overlap and differences between refugee and asylum policy, and current debates over applications for refuge from residents of Central America, Cuba, Haiti, Russia, China, and Southeast Asia.




R: 24 April
Immigration and Economics

Once again foes and advocates of immigration are arguing about the economic effects of immigration on the economy of the United States and on particular subsets of American workers. The issue has a remarkable ability to create divisions within rather than across liberal and conservative ranks. Spokespersons for Hispanic and Asian groups find themselves allied with editorial writers for the Wall Street Journal, and Patrick Buchanan reaches out to those who see immigrants undercutting opportunities for advancement in the African-American community. This lecture attempts to analyze responsibly the strengths and weaknesses of the competing points of view.




T: 29 April
IMMACT90 and Pending Proposals

Concerns over the impact of immigration on the U.S. were extensive in the 1980s and led to the passage of the Immigration Act of 1990 (IMMACT90). This lecture examines the background of that legislation and the political pressures that affected its structure. It focuses on the tensions inherent in efforts to balance the goals of keeping immigrant families together, securing an appropriately skilled work force for the American economy, and preventing ethnic discrimination in admissions policies. The lecture also examines current legislative initiatives.




R: 1 May
Immigration, Ethnicity, and Race since 1965

Since 1965, a special synergy has existed among issues involving immigration, ethnicity, and race. The rationales for easing restrictive immigration policies had common origins with the roots of the civil rights movement. The influx of newcomers from Latin America and from Asia made the racial structure of America more complex and weakened, at least for the short run, the prospects of creating a more homogeneous society. Lines of cooperation and competition among various ethnic and racial groups became increasing intricate. This lecture analyzes the "new ethnicity" of the post-1965 era.

Reading: Mary C. Waters, Ethnic Options: Choosing Identities in America




T: 6 May
The Debate over Multiculturalism

Even before the 1960s, many observers had rejected that goal of creating a homogenized American "melting pot" in favor of more modest one of building a society in which the authorities would not attempt to eradicate cultural differences and in which ethnic, religious, and racial identities would be private matters without impact in the public sphere. By the end of that decade, the continuing frustration of African-Americans, a reassertion of ethnic identities among Americans of European descent, and the presence of the growing numbers of Latino and nonwhite immigrants in the population extended the boundaries of the debate to include arguments that the government must act to preserve differences and to insure an equitable allocation of social goods among groups. This lecture analyzes the concepts of pluralism and multiculturalism, including differences between them, and examines the implications of ongoing debates for the America of the future.




R: 8 May
Current Evidence on Assimilation

Among the most important issues facing the United States concern the prospects facing its African-American, other nonwhite, and Latino populations. How long will those who are black be overrepresented among those who are disadvantaged, and will the integration of other nonwhites and of Latinos into the United States follow the European or the African model? This lecture examines the evidence currently available regarding socioeconomic standing, residential segregation, intermarriage, and popular attitudes.




T : 13 May
Examination #3
(material from Block 3)

The final exam. Time is 7:45 A.M. Location to be announced.