This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Monday, July 4, 2011

Anti-Immigration Legislation Bubbling Through the South--Redux

The Fourth of July is a good time to contemplate various aspects of freedom, and the opposite of that--namely the anti-immigrant laws recently enacted in several states in the south. An editorial in the New York Times picks up the theme:
If you thought the do-it-yourself anti-immigrant schemes couldn’t get any more repellent, you were wrong. New laws in Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina are following — and in some ways outdoing — Arizona’s attempt to engineer the mass expulsion of the undocumented, no matter the damage to the Constitution, public safety, local economies and immigrant families.
The laws vary in their details but share a common strategy: to make it impossible for people without papers to live without fear.
Keep in mind that for the first 100 years after the American Revolution there were no restrictions on immigration to the US--if you wanted to come, you came. Period. But, the very first restrictions were, like those today, essentially racist in origin. In 1882 Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act. Then in 1924 Congress passed the Japanese Exclusion Act, following the 1921 passage of the Quota Law of 1921 which put the first numerical limit on migration into the country, aimed especially at southern and eastern Europeans uprooted by World War I. The fact that we have a rather sad history of racist immigration laws does not, of course, excuse the current round of legislation. Rather, it should serve as a reminder that those whom we used to wish to exclude are now regular members of American society, and we can hope that the same will be said in the future about those currently being discriminated against simply for wanting to take the jobs that are on offer in this country.

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