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The political regulation of immigration in the United States, 1894-1924

Decker, Robert Julio (2012) The political regulation of immigration in the United States, 1894-1924. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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DeckerThePoliticalRegulationofImmigrationintheUnitedStates.pdf
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Abstract

This thesis analyzes the role of the Immigration Restriction League in the political regulation of immigration in United States between 1894 and 1924. The League promoted the exclusion of the so-called new immigrants, assumed to be not ‘fully white’ and therefore inferior to Anglo-Saxons. Similar to other progressive movements, the League’s activities included the scientific investigation of a problem, the creation of public awareness and, eventually, the implementation of solution through legislation and government agencies. Based on a wide range of source material, the thesis investigates the IRL’s engagement in the racialization of the new immigrants, its interaction with eugenicists, other progressive reformers and state agencies involved in research on immigrants and border control. The League’s activities are interpreted as a biopolitical and governmental project at the intersection of political self-regulation, the construction of racial identities and the increasing power of the modern nation-state to control and regulate the population. The thesis argues that the IRL can be understood as an example for a changing mode of power in the progressive era that relied on its citizens’ participation in the optimization of the state. Since the League equated the American state with the supposedly superior Anglo-Saxon race, it concentrated on informing other white citizens of the putative racial threat posed by the new immigration. Compiling and interpreting statistical data, the IRL argued that new immigrants were more likely to be criminal, insane or paupers due to inherent racial characteristics. It thus appealed to citizens, educators, scientists, reformers and politicians to engage in the protection from this threat, resulting in stricter border controls, the passage of a literacy test and the establishment of the quota system.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of History (Leeds)
Depositing User: Repository Administrator
Date Deposited: 02 Jul 2012 13:51
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:49
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/2587

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