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AmericanismNew Perspectives on the History of an Ideal$
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Michael Kazin and Joseph A. McCartin

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780807830109

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807869710_kazin

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The Unlovely Residue of Outworn Prejudices

The Unlovely Residue of Outworn Prejudices

The Hart-Celler Act and the Politics of Immigration Reform, 1945–1965

Chapter:
(p.108) The Unlovely Residue of Outworn Prejudices
Source:
Americanism
Author(s):

Mae M. Ngai

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/9780807869710_kazin.8

This chapter explores how liberal scholars and policymakers, most of whom were the children of European immigrants, invoked a conception of “equal rights” derived from the black freedom movement to influence the 1965 reform of immigration law. It explains how this ideological framework unintentionally brought about regulations that encouraged illegal immigration and failed to take into account the particular experiences of the large numbers of Mexicans and East Asians who began to enter the United States at that time. It argues that the unintended consequences of the Hart-Celler Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 can be traced to the pluralistic brand of Americanism advocated by liberals during the Cold War era. The chapter examines the intellectual underpinnings of the political and legislative discourse on immigration reform in the twenty years that followed World War II, paying particular attention to the influence of postwar liberal commitments to pluralism and equal rights in relation to nationalism as they were applied to immigration policy.

Keywords:   immigrants, equal rights, immigration law, illegal immigration, United States, Americanism, immigration reform, pluralism, nationalism

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