Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Immigration Article of the Day: Making America 1920 Again? Nativism and US Immigration, Past and Present by Julia G. Young
Making America 1920 Again? Nativism and US Immigration, Past and Present by Julia G. Young (The Catholic University of America)
This paper surveys the history of nativism in the United States from the late nineteenth century to the present. It compares the current surge in nativism with earlier periods, particularly the decades leading up to the 1920s, when nativism directed against southern and eastern European, Asian, and Mexican migrants led to discriminatory national origin quotas and other legislative restrictions on immigration. The paper finds similarities between the nativism of the 1870-1930 period and the current era. However, there are key differences as well, including the targets of nativism and President Trump’s consistent, highly public, widely disseminated appeals to nativist sentiment. Historical studies suggest that nativism does not disappear completely and that immigrants themselves can and do adopt nativist attitudes. While eradicating nativism may be impossible, a focus on avoiding or overturning nativist immigration legislation may prove more successful.