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City of InmatesConquest, Rebellion, and the Rise of Human Caging in Los Angeles, 1771-1965$
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Kelly Lytle Hernández

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781469631189

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469631189.001.0001

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Not Imprisonment in a Legal Sense

Not Imprisonment in a Legal Sense

Chapter:
(p.64) 3 Not Imprisonment in a Legal Sense
Source:
City of Inmates
Author(s):

Kelly Lytle Hernández

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469631189.003.0004

The third chapter is a western tale of national and global import. That tale, which sutures the split between the history of incarceration within the United States and the history of deportation from the United States, swirls around the passage of the 1892 Geary Act, a federal law that required all Chinese laborers in the United States to prove their legal residence and register with the federal government or be subject to up to one year of imprisonment at hard labor and, then, deportation. Chinese immigrants rebelled against the new law, refusing to be locked out, kicked out, or singled out for imprisonment. Launching the first mass civil disobedience campaign for immigrant rights in the history of the United States, Chinese immigrants forced the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a set of sweeping and enduring decisions regarding the future of U.S. immigration control. Buried in those decisions, which cut through Los Angeles during the summer of 1893, lay the invention of immigrant detention as a nonpunitive form of caging noncitizens within the United States. It was then an obscure and contested practice of indisputably racist origins. It is now one of the most dynamic sectors of the U.S. carceral landscape.

Keywords:   Chinese exclusion, immigration, deportation, Geary Act, civil disobedience, immigrant detention

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