Mae Ngai's rich and thought-provoking book focuses on the largely understudied period of immigration and citizenship history in the United States from the enactment of the nation's first comprehensive law of restriction on immigration, the Johnson-Reed Immigration Act of 1924, to the passage of the more liberal Hart-Celler Act of 1965. Ngai maps the origins of the illegal alien in U.S. law and society and es- tablishes the regime of immigration restriction as instrumental in shap- ing the concept of illegal alienage. Ngai further reveals the fluidity of the concept, demonstrating that "illegal alienage is not a natural or fixed condition but the product of positive law; it is contingent and at times it is unstable" (page 6). In case studies discussed below, Ngai deftly traces the histories of Filipino, Mexican, Chinese and Japanese migrants and exposes the blurred lines between illegal alienage, legal alienage and citizenship. In a related theme, Ngai also explores how the new regime of immigration restrictions resulted in new racial formations, solidify- ing the boundaries of the "white race" and the foreignness of Asians and Mexicans. In Part I, entitled "The Regime of Quotas and Papers," Ngai ana- lyzes the regime of restriction
Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law Online – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2006
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